Friday, September 28, 2007

Respect my work schedule

One of the problems with being a writer, especially a freelancer, is the general lack of respect for my work schedule that is exhibited by others.

Now some of my schedule problems this semester were of my own creation, and were the result of me planning based on best case scenario. For instance, when picking my classes this semester I scheduled an hour and forty-five minutes between two classes (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Originally, I planned on doing some writing between these two classes.

Three things has changed this plan.

The first of which was that the Auraria campus library in an effort to crack down in the homeless camping out in the library is requiring that you reserve a computer in advance. All public libraries (Auraria is a Federal library) in Denver are doing this. Given the fact that the class I am getting out of is Martin (Marty) Sabo's Microeconomics, it is occasionally difficult to figure out when I am leaving class. And considering that you are only allowed to use the computers for one hour--well, it is just easier to do other things during that time period.

(*The phone rings, and Morgan ends up walking outside to look at something*--an illustration of what he is talking about today as you will see.)

So I have chosen to do the occasional bit of homework, and errands during this little slot of time. The errands tie into the second thing that happened. Toni, my wife (common law), decided that she was going to go back to college. She is aiming for a Masters in Spanish to suppliment her skills as an art teacher. Due to this, she is swamped with homework, and many of the errands which were normally ran on the weekend are now being done during the week. This second part ties into the gist of today's blog--just wait.

And the third thing that happened is that one of my class mates from the philosophy class is also free during this hour and a half. Somehow, we have became friends, and generally agreed to set aside any thought of homework and other matters unless they are urgent. A lot of our discussions end up being about philosophy and reading, so it ties into school and my writing. I am willing to pay the opportunity cost of a Helium article a week to chat with someone.

At least, it was a mutual agreement to divert this time into friendly discussion. And so, we end up back at the second thing. Thanks to Toni being back in school, I have ended up running a lot of errands that should being done on the weekend. *sigh* I have lost track of the number of bank runs that I ended up doing for her.

The sad part is that it started before the semester did. And it illustrates completely my gripe of the day (too bad it happens so often that it is a common gripe among writers), the general lack of respect that people have for the work schedules of writers.

At the root of it, I think that people consider freelance writers to be unemployed. While I am beginning to make a steady tickle of nickels and dimes, it is not large enourgh to convince Toni that I am working. Occasionally, I whine that I could be making thirty thousand a year and she would still consider me unemployed. I firmly suspect that unless the job involve being on someone else's payroll and working in an office downtown that she will consider me unemployed.

It is a sore point for me. Especially when I have penciled in a day of writing, and it ends up being wasted on errands that I can run because I am "unemployed." Even when she is home, she just generally presumes that I am doing nothing. If she was home right now, despite the fact that I am typing at the computer, she would have no problem with interrupting me.

I am not allowed to do this when she is throwing pottery (a part time business she does), nor can I bug her when she is doing homework or paying bills; her concentration is sacred, mine is not.

And it is not just her.

Today is a prime illustration of this. Yesterday, one of Toni's friends called to ask if he could borrow the trailer that we have. I said that he could borrow it if he helped me unload the stuff that was being stored in the back of it (primarily ceiling board for the studio's ceiling). I wanted to do it this weekend, instead I end up doing it today. There was no asking me if it was good timing for me or not. Fortunately, I didn't have any hot projects, or overdue homework to hack out. But it distrubs me. Especially because he is also self-employed (locksmith, mechanic and general handyman).

What makes his profession rate higher in the scheme of things? What makes his schedule more important than mine?

I don't know. It irks me.

And other writers that I have talked to are also irked by things like this.

I have no solutions for the problem. I know that someday it will become a major issue for me.

In my case, I know that the emotional side of the problem comes from my childhood. My mother used to consider her schedule and needs more important than anything that I needed to do. A large part of my bad grades in High School can be contributed to the fact that babysitting my brothers and sisters were more important than me doing homework or showing up to my first class on time. I am programmed to put everyone else's need before my own.

But it is not right that I do so. Nor is it right that others expect me to do so either. Yet it happens all the time.

I beg all of you to respect the work schedules of writers. Especially mine. If you need me to change my schedule--ask, don't impose.

No comments: