THE WRITER’S LIFE
I am an unholy trinity of pimp, whore and slave; to myself. People who owe me money have defaulted on their debts, but that’s just an aside. It’s like when a customer didn’t pay an invoice when I ran a business. In fact, it was a good way to pay people to no longer exist. But that’s another story.
Lately I’ve had to adopt a much more business-like approach to writing, because of what it’s become for me (my life) and because I need to keep the various aspects of it separated. When your job is your life and you’ve been a slave to both in the past, that’s difficult.
It’s the way I live: This studio is not much more than a glorified office, albeit one with a leather sofa, a sound system and a TV; and a huge collection of CDs and DVDs. Like most offices, the toilet is off-suite and there’s nowhere to sleep, so I bed down on the floor. It’s a studio.
I was keen to find some sort of work / life balance but that’s difficult when I enjoy what I do so much. So having written various things for other people in the past, I thought I’d explore the gig economy. Obviously it’s poorly paid and very competitive but I don’t need to make a lot of money, I’m my own boss and I enjoy what I do. Pimping myself as a writing whore is proving to be just what I needed: Now I can enjoy writing for other people and getting paid, and still write purely for the enjoyment. I can place a divider somewhere in my already wonky day, so that it’s part paid, part not, but all satisfying.
Some freelance sites are better than others. Many are just a means for the operators to make money from desperate writers, with promises of great rewards for financial investment. Others require the writer to earn bidding rights, which can be done by writing more assignments for clients; or by “enhancing” one’s listing: basically, in-app purchases in the publishing world. Although I accept that writing has become democratised – mainly for the good – and that writers need to have credentials, I don’t believe that should come at a cost.
A few sites will only accept writers upon completion of a timed on-line assignment and with my trusty copy of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook always to hand, I did some research. As it happens, I’ve signed up with three freelance sites: Upwork, Freelancer and Copify. The latter is the one which required learned qualification but I’m a whore and a pimp. They only accept writers on merit and I completed a random piece on “The Legacy of the London 2012 Olympics”: 200 words in 20 minutes, including proof-reading and editing. Some of the freelance work placed by clients demands that kind of skill and speed and I was accepted as a writer. I can’t share the article here because it was written for someone else and therefore I forfeit copyright: It’s the way the industry works and I’m a whore.
I’ve run businesses before and they failed because I was drunk. I’m sober now but I know how a business works. By effectively going back to running my own business, I’m making a separation in my mind, so that it doesn’t get all mixed up again. It’s a coping mechanism; it’s a continuation of the life-long recovery process; and it’s got my life back.
It’s dividing the writer’s life into work and personal. The difference is, I enjoy both now because of what I do.
As my intellectual stock has risen and I’ve become more marketable, I wondered if my website ought to be more professional; at least, minus the alcoholism and mental health issues. But people buy from people and if people are going to work with me, it’s the real me they get.
I can’t delete the past when my life is my business now but I get to choose who’s in it.