During the three years that I worked a ‘9-to-5’ (though, in reality, it was more of a ’10-to-whenever-the-fuck-I-say, you-need-this-money- so-I’m-going-to-take-advantage-of-you, need-you-to-come-in-Saturdays-too, sorry-sucker’), I dated a freelancer. A few of them, actually. I can’t say that I learned a lot from those experiences. I probably could have, but I was too busy dealing with soul-crushing hatred for my job to understand anyone else’s.
Eventually, that malice caused me to quit. I set my sights on freelancing. And all of the nuggets of wisdom that’d been thrown at me over the years, disguised as what I fondly referred to as ‘excuses,’ became really, really relevant.
Every field is different, but there are things the masochistic fool who wants to date a freelance writer should know. Here’s your first lesson: anytime that we’re awake can be considered ‘work time.’ 6 AM or 3 PM or Sunday or Saturday; it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we have an idea that we must commit to digital paper. When inspiration hits, we have to pen it down immediately. It doesn’t matter if you’re sleeping next to us or that we were supposed to go to your cousin’s barbecue (we’ll only be an hour late, tops). We can’t ignore the impulse to record something when it strikes, because if we wait, that turn of phrase or perfect anecdote will disappear – and if it’s your fault, we’ll hate you a little. Even if we’re not working on deadline, this is a survival technique to help us get through the hellish periods of time you’ll grow to hate – Writer’s Block Week (or month, or year).
We will be little bitches about Writer’s Block. Please understand babe, we’re not moping around because we stalled out while writing the seventh page of The Next Great American Novel (okay, sometimes we are, isn’t it endearing?) – we’re moping because we need to get paid and we have to write something in order to do that.
So when we write about something that upsets you, like an ex or the embarrassing secret you told us (what? We changed your name), don’t take it personally. Life is our inspiration board, and everyone we know is at risk. This is a great way of keeping people in check, by the way. Has anyone fucked with you lately? I’ll write something totally passive aggressive about them and place it on a high traffic site, and then I’ll share it with you on the social network of your choice. Seriously, I’ll do that for you.
Don’t worry about us publishing negative stories about you when this thing fizzles out. Unless you’re a complete asshole, of course – in that case, you should worry a bit. You could treat this as a sociological experiment – “Can I respectfully end a quasi-relationship, knowing that if I fail, my bad behavior may become apparent to the Internet-At-Large?” The answer is yes, in case you weren’t sure. Most emotionally stable people can. We’re just trying to help you become a better you, is all. Take that and run with it.
Occasionally, we’ll be the asshole in the relationship. We’ll insinuate that you don’t have to work as hard as us. Let’s be real for a moment, as I was very recently on the other side of that fixed-salary fence – sometimes, it’s true. Getting the same paycheck every week leaves little room for incentive. Depending on your work environment, you may get away with doing very little to earn that bankroll. This is a luxury freelancers tossed to the wind; we made the decision to dedicate our waking hours to pitching, editing, transcribing, researching, and plain ol’ writing. We usually have a second income, because what you’ve heard is true and not some deprecating insider joke – writing doesn’t pay very well. (We know that in reality, you probably work very hard. We’re just frustrated. We’ll make it up to you.)
That being said, it’s time to discuss That Time Of The Month. We’re not talking about my monthly Red Rum, babes. We’re talking about ‘Where Is My Scrilla’ time. That Time Of The Month is when we don’t have a check coming for another two weeks (maybe) and we’re broke as the American healthcare system. If you work in the payroll department at your job and you pay your freelancers according to the date on their invoice, your freelancing love interest should be treating you to a bottomless blow job buffet. Getting paid on time is an aphrodisiac. While we love the dough (more than you know), high-maintenance broads and bros need not apply. If we cared about bling, we would not be writing for a living.
If you’re reading this because a freelancer is currently pursuing you and you’re not interested, just tell them. The nice thing about us is that we can handle rejection. Rejection is our occupational hazard (that, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). We’re also used to dealing with flakes, with faders, with doling out effort and getting nothing in return. So if you don’t like us, we’ll get over it. But if you do, if you’re not a flake or a fader, we’ll appreciate you. We’ll wax poetic about the texture of your hair and the color of your eyes. Maybe we’ll even love you.
We’re definitely capable of love, you know? We love our jobs. We wouldn’t play with fire if we didn’t. We’re passionate about writing; we give up almost everything to pursue it – security, time, the opportunity to make more money, and the people we liked who couldn’t hang; the ones who couldn’t date us because that, in and of itself, is a job. You might not always ‘get’ us, we might annoy you or write about you or ask you to foot the bill on occasion – but nothing is quite as pretty as being in love with someone who wants to write it down and put their name on it.