Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Muse

Everywhere I go I meet people who say to me, AYou work at home? Oh, I couldn’t do that – I’d never do any work.” But I’m here to tell you - it=s a myth that you need self-discipline to be a freelancer. I have none. Given a choice, I=d rather read the paper, e-mail friends, or watch movies on HBO than knuckle down to an assigned task. But I can=t do those things any more than you can. I may work from home but I still have deadlines to meet.  My bosses, like yours, expect me to deliver whether I=m wearing a power suit or my pjs.  
Having said that, being able to stay in my pjs all day is a definite plus on the pros and cons list for working at home. I can fall out of bed, stumble into the next room, turn on my laptop, and I=m open for business. No rushing against the clock to iron a wrinkled shirt or dig around for your only pair of tights without runs. 
As for the other pros on the list, my particular favourite is the absence of a commute. This adds a good hour and a half to my day. And in flu season, it is very nice not to have to sit on a crowded train in a miasma of cold germs.
Also, you can do your housework during the day. When I take a break from the computer, I=m not schmoozing at the water cooler, I=m scrubbing the bath or doing laundry. That way, I save more of my precious free time to write or just have fun.
Another pro - you can set your own working hours. Maybe this doesn’t apply to someone with a young family, but for me, it is largely true. Never a morning person, I=ve been known to do my best work late at night, and it does tend to impress the clients when they get e-mails from you written at 3am. What dedication, what energy! On the other hand, sometimes friends assume your daytime hours are at their disposal - but then sometimes they can be.
So what are the cons? Well, it can be isolating – though thanks to e-mail, Facebook and a damn good social life, I’ve never found this to be much of a problem. But neighborhood noise has sometimes threatened my sanity – from barking dogs to leaf blowers, car alarms, house alarms, and jackhammers. A particularly stupid woodpecker drilling away relentlessly on my plastic gutter once provoked me into throwing open a window and banging on a saucepan with a wooden spoon to scare it away!
I do miss having a climate-controlled office, a subsidized cafeteria and access to state-of-the-art computer equipment and – holy of holies – to on-the-spot tech support. But when push comes to shove, we office worker bees are all in the same boat these days – each in our burrows like moles, ruining our eyesight peering at LCD screens all day, surrounded by electronic equipment. Speaking for myself alone, I prefer to do my peering in my own messy burrow with NPR on the radio, a steaming cup of Earl Grey on hand, and a warm cat dozing on my pajama-ed lap. Can you blame me?

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