Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Myth #1

"So, how is your life of leisure going?" -- recent comment left by a friend on Facebook.

Myth #1: That working from home is, in fact, a life of leisure.

Reality: Nope, not really.


So it seems that now that I'm an official "writer" I have rescinded myself to aimlessly toodling about the house a la Nathan Lane's character in The Birdcage ("When the schnecken beckons!"), writing every now and then as if it were a chore like vacuuming. Or that's what I gather from numerous comments I've heard from friends recently, like the one above. I just need to vent, but I don't like how people assume that just because I'm not going to an office every day I've somehow lapsed into an "early retirement". Yes, that was another comment. Lucky me, right? (I don't have kids, but I can't imagine how stay-at-home moms must feel when they hear these sort of comments and have the uber-hard, full-time job of raising little ones.)

I don't know how to explain this without sounding defensive (especially when it's said over the phone), but my time spent working in the last week or two has been some of the hardest work I've ever done. And it will be during the next months and years. I hold myself to a high standard (I think most do, right?) and like to feel like I'm producing something. It gives my life meaning. Waking up everyday, brewing a fresh pot of coffee and sitting down to write with Lola at my feet is incredible. It makes me happy to get out of bed. Sure the muse can't strike daily, but even on days when I don't feel like writing, I've forced myself to because it's my job. "Not going" to my job is not an option -- that would be failing. Luckily, too, I can work during whatever hours I feel like. Sometimes it works best for me to write in the middle of the night, long after everyone's gone to bed, so I'm happy that it's flexible.

It's mentally taxing and exhausting, yet stimulating and fulfilling all the same. There are no employee reviews or periodic paychecks. Nothing to tell me I'm doing a good job or advancing along nicely. That comes when I start sending out query letters to literary agents, which comes after I finish and edit my manuscript, which is all still a few months away.

For right now, all I have to go on in terms of a pat on the back to myself is how much I produce each day. The pressure is on, but it's a pressure I relish in! Now I know what people mean when they say they've "put in a good day at work." As opposed to before, I now actually care about my finished product and genuinely appreciate the process. It's my creativity, after all, personified on paper. What can be more gratifying than seeing that daily?

But wait, that's not possible for me to do because I've done so at home. Silly me ... ;)

15 comments:

Trish said...

I work at home too and I just hate when people think I am getting off easy. I sit at a desk and work all day long - same as anybody in an "office." It is a nice perk but I still do actually work - and hard.

Amber said...

I used to have people ask me if I was still in my pjs! I only did that once because my alarm didn't go off in time. :) I would get up, shower, and dress just as if I was "going to work". It is most definitely misunderstood! Good luck! :)

Emilita said...

That's frustrating, but at least you know that you're actually putting yourself to the grindstone.

By the way, I gave notice at my job yesterday. And the words just...came. It was very brief!

I'm back in Maryland, let me know when you're free sometime. We can coordinate with our work schedules. :)

Tami - fete a fete said...

I am literally glued to my desk at home. I hardly do cute lil' lunches or events, believe it or not. It's not as glam as one might think.

Carrie said...

One word: they are jealous. Okay, three words, but you know what I mean.

I was just going to say something about stay-at-home moms and than got to that part in your post....they have the hardest jobs in the world and don't even get paid for it.

Keep on keepin' on! :D

Carolyn said...

Boo i am so sorry you have to deal with comments like that, esp. from "friends". It's hard to respond and not sound defensive, but i'm glad you blogged about it. And rock on sista! You are my idol!!

eemusings said...

I think it's really brave of you to be doing this. I hope one day if I am in a similar position and the situation was viable I'd have the guts to do the same! Best of luck.

Emilita said...

Hey, you might get contacted by a reporter writing about people who recently quit their jobs. He emailed me based on my latest post, and though I don't think I'd be a good fit, I suggested you might. (Of course I said I don't know if you *want* to be interview...but just fyi. Since I think you have a very interesting perspective on things.)

Revanche said...

I just think people who work from home are lucky because they're not in an annoying office with annoying people to interrupt the work. And I think you get MORE work done at home than you would in an office.

But I just have faith, I guess. :)

charkstudios said...

I still catch myself saying to friends that I'm "out of work" even though I'm working from home because my ego needs to be paid for what I'm doing, and I'm not right now. It seems I relied too much on my role as "good little office worker" for affirmation, but slowly I'm seeing a shift in my perception. I see this time as my rite of passage..almost like evolving and forcing myself to learn new skills. I am working harder than ever and need to learn to "pay" myself in different ways...such as treating myself with kindness, exercising my body with Yoga and meditating to reach a point where extraneous stress and pressures from outside influences (people's expectations, conditioning, etc)does not matter anymore...just my own intuition that I am doing the best for myself in this present moment.

annmariegamble said...

Aw, man, I had to respond when I read this, since I work at home and have kids.

It's really distracting. It's tough to keep boundaries (not only when do you get any work done, but when do you stop?). It can be isolating. But I also really like my job and being available for my kids. My boss is tough but fair and has great taste in music. ;)

Hang in there everybody and know you're not alone!

a cat of impossible colour said...

I have the same pet peeve. People assume that I have all the free time in the world and that it's a life of luxury. It drives me completely mad! Good to see others have the same experience. Long live the working-from-home-ers!

Jessie said...

My mother is a professional writer and my older sister still acts like Mom should just drop everything anytime she needs something because Mom is "at home." My sister is 41, by the way. Just let comments roll off your back...Mom has done it for 30 years!! I only take one day a week off to write and I get it too. Didn't you know writing is not a "real" job?Ha ha! We all got ya back, sista! :-)

cristin said...

I have a friend who quit her job a few months ago in order to pursue writing. I used to ask about her writing in order to be encouraging, but I gave up - I don't think I was helping her. I would never dream of treating her as if she didn't have a real job. Coincidentally, a few of my friends are stay at home moms and seriously seem to spend all day on Facebook. I don't even want to think about that, but yeah, working at home is real work and I'm sorry you have been catching flak for pursuing your dream. I also just want to say that I love your blog!

FruGal said...

One of my friends has taken to calling me a 'desperate housewife' since I have started working from home. Charming! I would slap her, but she lives in France.

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