Typical Conversations I Have

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2008/05/typical-conversations-i-have/

This conversation happened with a family member this week; but friends are guilty too, and honestly, this could be any old week of my life.

Family: We’re having this get-together Saturday! You have to come.

Me: I can’t, you know I work weekends.

Family: But why.

Me: Like I’ve said before, if I don’t get enough work done on the weekend, it cuts into homeschool time (for those who don’t know, I homeschool my son).

Family: Well, that’s dumb, you can take a few hours off.

Me: Yeah, on a weekday.

Family: But everyone else works on the weekdays.

Me: Not me. How about we have a get-together on a weekday.

Family: Why would we do that? We work on weekdays.

Me: Well, then you get my issue, because I work on the weekend.

Family: Yeah, but you JUST work at home. You can take time off.

Me: I don’t ask you to take time off from your job.

Family: (again) but you work at home… all you do is write.

Me: Sigh.

Family member then has other family members call me to try and get me to come over, and I get to have the same conversation ad nauseam.

It’s not just stuff like this. Because I JUST work at home, people expect me to take care of everything going on at the house while I work, because I just happen to be at home. People call and want to chat. Folks continually say cool things like, “Man, you’re so lucky you don’t have a real job.”

My least favorite comment is when I mention something cool going on at one of my blogs, and the person responds with, “Hey, are you ever going to get published again? Now that’s neat. I like when you’re in magazines!” I still had people pulling the same stunts when I wrote magazine articles and business copy, but at least then my name was in print, and for whatever reason, my friends and family took that to mean I actually did some work now and again. Since it was my decision to switch over to FT blogging vs. other sorts of writing, this nonsense irks me more than other comments.

It would seem I don’t have a job. Nothing I say can convince 80% of my family and friends otherwise. So, instead I resort to tactics like turning my phone off when I’m working, and ignoring the rest of the comments. Overall, while I like blogging, this is an ongoing issue in my world. Slacker me without a job (or so people think). I’ve come to the conclusion that only other writers and bloggers get it.

Do you get it? Do you get the same slacker grief from family and friends – and is it worse with some forms of writing vs. others – say proposals vs. blogging.

Comments

  1. I could have written this! The worst is when I will tell my mother every day in a row for several days that I have a magazine deadline on a certain day (plus she has access to an online version of my Outlook calendar at Google). Then the morning of my deadline she will call me up and ask, “What are you doing today?” Of course, she actually does that almost every day. She always gets the same answer “working” and it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

    I do magazine work as well as my online work. I am in a start-up phase on several sites and am incredibly busy. I have some flexibility in when I choose to take my time off, but I don’t get much time off. That’s hard for some people to understand I guess since “working at home” wasn’t around in their generation.

  2. Oh my goodness, I too could have written this post. I also homeschool my son, plus I have a toddler. It’s challenging trying to balance it ALL. I do ignore the phone during the day often and Lord knows, if there is a technical glitch with a site or wordpress, THEN it gets really sticky. We are kindred spirits as I do magazine work,I blog and am working on 2 sites to be up and running soon. Sometimes when my husband calls and asks what I am doing, I say, “watching my soaps and drinking coffee.” He knows I don’t do either, so he gets the message. Usually, HE gets it, but I have no idea how to help others. Most people in my circle think of a blog as just rambling on the net, they have not idea that it can actually be a JOB.

  3. You make a very valid point and I feel we are not alone in this predicament! I am going to pass your article on at Homemaker Barbi because I think it will help in case any of my people read it.

    It’s very difficult for those who aren’t writers to understand that writing is a job, and that any type of freelancing is a job for that matter. It doesn’t matter that you don’t go somewhere else to do your work everyday! Running only 1 blog is putting me at 50+ hours per week. I work a lot longer hours now than I ever did working for someone else. Nevermind taking care of 2 kids while I work also….

    My favorite line is when people say, “Do you actually get PAID for what you’re doing?”!

    Thank you so much for this great article. I’m glad I’m not the only one who expereinces frustration in this arena! Hopefully it will change with time. Keep your chin up!

    Homemaker Barbi (Danelle Ice-Simmons)

  4. Hey ladies, glad to see I’m not alone.

    @Nancy it’s hard to balance two sorts (or more of writing) that’s one reason I mostly blog only now; plus I never liked queries. But my family has copies of mags I’ve been published in and none of them read my blogs – so I know what they like better.

    @Loretta I’m a single mama, but when I used to live with my son’s dad, he was obnoxious. It’s one reason we’re not together. He’d come home from work saying, you don’t know what it’s like to have a job, and then when he was home he’d be no help, because I’m there so I can take care of stuff. Now that he has Cedar (our son) all to himself 2 days a week he gets how tough it is to clean, cook, care for Cedar and try to rest or do other stuff. Oddly, he’s way more supportive of my work now, so that’s cool. Your soaps remark is a good one :)

  5. I got it from my husband during my first go at trying to work from home. After 6 months I ended going back to work. It was expected that not only would I earn an income, but I would take care of the house watch the kids and then do all my writing at night.

    This time we have a better understanding of how things are going to work – this is a job and it has to be treated with the same respect.

  6. Jennifer!

    You are so not alone. I also took to unplugging my phone, only to have friends, family, and assorted repair/utility people stop by to tell me my phone was out of order.

    In the last year or so (I’ve been freelancing full-time for about four years), I seem to have moved into a new phase. Let’s call it the “borrow money from the ‘successful writer’ who I know will be home” phase.

    I’m not sure it’s an improvement. :-)

  7. Here it is: My Job: Full Time Blogger, Freelance Writer, Work at Home Mom.

    @Jennifer:

    About the obnoxious ex: I had one of those and I understand what you mean. (The comments about not knowing what it’s like to have a job.) *sigh* At least now he gets to see how much hard work you do, even if for only 2 days a week!

    Danelle

  8. Jennifer, I screen calls. I’m guilty of not answering the phone or returning calls of family who bug me. I blame it on the answering machine. One annoying phone call from certain family members can put me in a bad mood for hours.

    I don’t really have the weekend issue though. I mostly take weekends off since that’s when Michael is off work. However, then I don’t have an excuse for the family weekend functions I’d rather skip! In general I hate all large gatherings. I’d much rather visit with people in smaller, quieter groups.

  9. @Danelle I love the expanded version. Very nice. I love the rules (of sorts) you give to family and friends. Sometimes I seriously wonder; do they think I knock over banks in my spare time. How do I pay my bills with my fake job? I must be getting the $ from somewhere. Geez. Great follow up though, and thanks for the link.

    @Harmony I used to have to do all my writing at night when I lived with the ex and it so didn’t work well. Too little time, when I was already tired. It works way better now that I work weekends. I hope this time around works out for you :)

  10. @Sandy People stop by! Lord. And now want money huh. Too funny. Having the boy, I only make enough to cover bills plus a bit extra right now, so thankfully (or not?) I don’t have that borrow money issue.

    @Peggy I tell people I turn off the phone, and they still call. It’s like they can’t help it. My best friend will text if it’s an emergency (like her baby is sick and she wants advice) and I do take calls from Cedar’s dad, because he’s learned to only call if there’s a problem (i.e. Cedar is sick.) But after the weekend, I have to go through and listen to all the messages from people saying, “Hey, where are you?”

  11. Great post, Jennifer.

    I balance a “day job” and blogging, and a friend said to me the other day — “you are always working, even on your days off.”

    Yep. But the good thing is that blogging has allowed me to cut back a little on the day job hours, and has paid for some very nice vacations and treats. People are starting to get it now.

  12. Hey Mary Jo :) Well, it’s nice when people start to get it. It’s also nice if blogging can help pay for some cool extras over what you might be able to accomplish with your day job.

  13. Husband: Are you going watch TV with me or go play on the computer?

    ‘nuf said!

  14. @Lela Ugh, that’s the worst. I’ve heard stuff like that too, it makes me cringe.

  15. It’s not just writers! As an independent filmmaker I get that all the time. My mother doesn’t understand that I can’t just drop everything to go to a family get-together JUST because I contracted an actor to work that day not long before. You have my full sympathy, ma’am!

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