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- Spill hot coffee on the table when setting down the full mug, missing the computer by half an inch and finally testing the water-proof cell phone case – check.
- Pour luke-warm coffee into my cleavage because I somehow forgot how to drink out of a cup and missed my mouth completely – check.
- Dream about how quickly bed time finally comes back around (for me, not the kids) – check. Repeat – check. Repeat again – check.
Being a writer is one of the best jobs in the world. It’s my dream career, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. But there are pros and cons to being your own boss in the Indie-writing world, all which can make or break ya.
Here’s my Top 20 list of Pros and Cons of Being Your Own Boss. Enjoy it with coffee, if you’d like. Or vodka. I won’t judge.
TOP 20 PROS
- No Supervisor (unless your editor is waiting for the manuscript)
- No Commute (unless you write away from home often)
- No formal work schedule, or clocking in and out
- No penalties for being late or calling in sick
- No uniforms required. Or washed hair. Or makeup. Or clothes at all, for that matter.
- No formal degrees needed
- Introverts welcome
- Procrastinators welcome
- Multi-tasking dragon trainers, unicorn riders and Middle Earth trail guides always needed
- Ego inflation automatically included for all book awards won
- Tax write-offs for travel. And coffee. And printer ink.
- Knowledge gained in spelling, editing, formatting and marketing
- Mastering of ‘Internet Research’. Followed by, Mastering of panic-mode ‘Clear Browsing History’
- Constant practice in the Art of Humility
- Expansive knowledge gained in caffeinated coffee and tea products. Also in chocolate. Or hard liquor.
- Paying bills with writing income
- Feeling accomplished and successful
- Making friends within the writing community
- Being stalked online by readers
- Spending more time at home with family and pets.
TOP 20 CONS
- No Supervisor (you’re on your own to figure everything out)
- No Days Off (if not writing, you’re thinking about writing – 24/7)
- No formal work schedule
- No employee benefits (health insurance, dental insurance, office romance possibilities or water cooler gossip)
- Showering may become so sporadic that the neighbors notice
- Introverts welcome (being alone full-time does bad things to the mind)
- Procrastinators welcome (an Achilles Heel for some writers)
- Ego inflation can reach dangerously high levels. Friends might be lost. Family might move out. The dog might even run away.
- Self-Employment tax
- Knowledge gained on spelling, editing, formatting and marketing can create madness. And broken laptops due to constant head-banging.
- Weight Gain. Also, Flat-Ass Syndrome
- Bad reviews are guaranteed
- Hearing at every social event for the rest of eternity, ‘You’re a writer? Have I read anything of yours?’
- Addiction to any, or all of the following is expected: Social Media, checking email at least ten times a day, hard alcohol, chocolate, junk food in general, really comfortable pens, notebooks and Forensic Files
- Constantly checking online for pirated work. And laptop sales.
- Feeling accomplished and successful is almost always followed by moments of self-loathing and self-doubt
- Meeting crazy people within the writing community
- Being stalked online (or in person) by readers
- Spending less time with family and pets because writing consumes everything
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You’ll earn some good Karma.
Earlier today, while I was in the living room trying not to die from yet another heat wave in San Diego, my daughter was in the kitchen for the umpteenth time as if something different would be in there with each visit, and she hollered over to me, ‘Hey, Mom, what would be a really great surprise?’
I didn’t even have to think of an answer. ‘Rain. That would be a really great surprise.’
She laughed, and clanked around in the kitchen some more. ‘Uh, but then it would be really humid. How about Channing Tatum showing up at the door with some double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream?’
I blinked. She’ll be twelve next month. Too young in my naive parenting mind to have a Tatum crush. ‘Yeah…that’d be a surprise, all right,’ I mumbled. Then I realized she was opening the cabinets, opening the fridge and obviously not doing dishes, like I thought. ‘What are you doing?’
‘It’s a surprise,’ she answered.
It was well over 100* outside and not much cooler in the house. I doubted she was crazy enough to attempt making something to eat on the stove or in the oven. I was totally wrong. After some verbal and irritated prodding from my sweaty throne upon the couch, she finally told me she was making homemade gnocchi.
I wanted to say to her: You’re crazy, child! It’s a million degrees in this house! Eat an apple! But hey, she had the desire to cook, said she’d been watching a cooking show and was in the mood. So, I let her make gnocchi. And garlic butter sauce. She didn’t burn down the kitchen and they came out pretty good. I’ve full faith she will inherit her father’s abilities in the kitchen, which is a relief.
Fast-forward a few hours to now. I’m reviewing audiobook files for work and put the TV on for background fodder and just happened to click over to CNN where a repeat of the Republican Debate is on. My daughter, wanting to spend time with me even though I’m working with my earplugs in, draped herself across the end of my bed out of absolute boredom and watched the debate for over half an hour. She even chatted about some of the topics, but her comments were mostly about the funny faces that Trump is known for. We aren’t political in this house, definitely not Republicans, but we have an open dialogue about all kinds of things. Regardless of whether or not she understood half of what was discussed, I’m amused she lasted as long as she did. I mean, she could have chosen to watch a Disney channel show instead in her room, alone.
When she finally sauntered off to find something more interesting to do, it struck me how much she’s grown up. Her seven-year old brother grumbles with protests and escapes the room like his butt is on fire any time I put the news on. But she’s slowly transitioning into a young lady. Thankfully, there’s a few years before that truly happens, but I can see little tid-bits of the girl slowly leaving and the teen peeking through.
Her father and I should be happy. We should feel proud and as if we are hitting another monumental milestone with our oldest child, but in reality, it feels sad. Bittersweet. When a baby is born, we can’t wait for the first time they smile, laugh, roll over, crawl or say that first word. But then we panic because a crawling baby gets into everything and we wish for a moment they were still tiny and immobile. A talking toddler is sometimes exhausting and often times rude, making us question why we thought language was an appropriate thing to teach them. And puberty – that’s something different entirely. The first decade of her life is slipping away and she’s inching closer and closer to independence and I’m left wondering how quickly the next few years will go.
I imagine that one day, not too far away from this one, she’ll be living on her own, cooking her perfected gnocchi for her friends and listening to political debates in the background while she moves about her little apartment or house doing chores. And at the end of the day, she might curl up on the couch with a girlfriend or three to relax and watch a movie. No doubt, she’ll be enjoying a bowl of double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, watching Channing Tatum in his latest film.
And she’ll be happy. She’ll be healthy. She’ll be her. The little baby her dad and I brought into the world, that went through the busy crawling months, the rude and stubborn toddler stage, the challenging middle school years and blooming teens to end up the beautiful adult she was meant to be.
I hope to see that happen. To be there as she grows into herself, like she’s doing now, eleven years old, soon to be twelve. The girl who still wants to lounge on her mom’s bed and will suffer through a political debate just to hang out. She’ll get my attention tonight, because one day she may not need it. She’ll have successfully grown up, just like her dad and I have spent years raising her to do, only to realize too late that it wasn’t enough time…
And that is why parenting is bittersweet.