This morning, I happened to mention in a Facebook comment about two jobs I had to work just to put food on the table for what has become known as the “lean times” my daughter and I went through while here in Oregon. They may NOT have been officially “jobs” jobs but, upon reflection, I had to think, wow, I sure put in a lot of hours for those two jobs, more than what would be a normal fulltime job! For example, with the babysitting job, where I was paid only a dollar an hour, it was for 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Then after that ended, I took a brief nap (because I started at 5 a.m.) and then I went next door to clean my neighbor’s house for 5 hours. For both times, my young daughter was with me.
And, for a moment, while I was reeling over the 12 hours of babysitting I put in on those days, I recalled there was one other job I had where I worked that many hours, too: Freelance writing. At first, I started working 8 hours a day as a freelancer, Monday through Friday, but later I started working an average of 12 hours a day. I know this meant A LOT of time at the computer and to this day I still regret all the time I missed with my daughter who was a toddler at that time, but I thought if I put in the time, I would earn good money and, hopefully, achieve my goal of getting an article into a glossy. One of those years, I did make good money from freelancing, but I didn’t get into a major magazine. After 10 years at bat for freelance writing, I threw in the towel. I never accomplished my goal, but I started to think I was putting in more than I got out of it. I just didn’t like working for a “possible” check anymore. Eventually, I settled into a regular gig with a guaranteed payout, but that time around, I changed the number of hours I spent at it.
These days, I work another part-time job, and I don’t miss putting in those 8-hour or 12-hour days. (Though, sometimes, with this gig, I do work for 8 hours.) The job is the same as that 12-hour babysitting gig, though this time the pay is a little better. It’s not perfect, but I am SO, SO glad it does not require 12 hours of my time Monday though Friday anymore. No more 17-hour workdays for me! And I’m also glad I don’t start at 5 a.m. again, either.
This babysitting job will come to an end soon. I have been trying to figure out what kind of work I can pursue for the months of July and August. Sometimes I think about trying my hand at freelancing again, just to see if I can finally, FINALLY accomplish that goal of getting published in a major magazine, but I have heard those markets are harder than ever to break into and, if you have not been published anywhere recently or been published in ANOTHER major market, your chances of getting published in a major magazine are even slimmer. That stubborn side of me wants to still give it a try anyway, and I have decided that if I do indeed give it a try, I won’t be putting as many hours into it as before. In fact, the whole aspect of not being guaranteed any check at all from my efforts has made me further decide that I should set my sights on a temporary job that DOES guarantee payment, and just do the freelancing thing on the side to work on that goal.