Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Freelance: a hero's tale

In my search for employment, I have found unemployment. Shit-loads of it. There's so much unemployment in my basement room that it's starting to clog the vents. Wait... no, that's not unemployment, that's cat hair. It's the same stuff that everyone points out to me whenever I wear dark shirts in public. I like to think of it as a full body loneliness badge. Except you don't know you're wearing it until you're already in the restaurant and everyone already knows that where ever you just came from, you were almost certainly by yourself. When I see other people in public covered in cat hair there is always a fidgety exchange of averting eye contact. Hang on, what was I talking about? Oh yea, I'm jobless. How do I always end up talking about my cat?

I had steady employment for about five months, but then Netflix put three seasons of Batman: Beyond on instant queue and I decided I had better things to do. I'm finding it difficult to walk down the street to apply at a Jimmy John's. Am I a terrible person for feeling above that? There are honest, talented people that put on an apron and a Jimmy John's visor every day with a smile on their face, and those people deserve just as much respect as anyone that works hard at their job. That being said, I'm better than these people.

I went to college and got my degree so that I could be better than them. That's what we were told. Get that piece of paper and get a job that you can at least tolerate while you build some experience towards the next, more fulfilling job. Well, I haven't found that tolerable job, and I'm well aware that my less than optimistic outlook on the world has played a role in my situation.

Shut up, Adam.

I'm not here to talk about what's holding me back. I would like more to discuss what I'm doing to move forward. And the minor revelation I've had recently is that perhaps my work is best suited for the freelance market at the moment. In the last week, I've had the pleasure of creating content for three different clients, all of which have given prompt feedback and accepted my work. Compare that to the nail biting process of seeking a job by sending my resume, cover letter, application, references, driver's license, passport, social security number, firstborn child, everlasting soul, whatever the fuck a Curriculum Vitae is, and I think I've found a path with a bit less money and endlessly more satisfaction in its nature.

I haven't given up on the prospect of having the more typical, perhaps more manageable lifestyle of a 9-5 job. I'm sure there's a few more of those in my future, and I welcome the challenge. But at the moment I am enthused by the idea of someone sending me something to do, and letting the quality of the product speak for itself. No hoops to jump through. No pretending to be someone I'm not. No shameful, sweaty sessions trying to tie my hand-me-down tie before an interview.

Perhaps I'm just fond of the romance of being a freelance writer. I was nearly brought to tears when I read Stephen Kings account of how he told his wife that the movie rights to Carrie had just been sold, and they were going to be able to move their two children out of their shitty little one-bedroom apartment. I'm quite a ways from such a breakthrough, and if I'm lucky enough to have one of those moments in my life, it will be preceded by a healthy amount of misery and physical violence towards the desk where my computer sits.

Right now I'm Skype chatting with someone who wants me to write video game reviews for them. Let me repeat that. I am actively communicating with an employer who wants to pay me to create something for him. The thing I am going to create will be based on something I am passionate about, and it will end up being something I'm proud of as a result. Somehow, this is one of the first times that has been a reality since I joined this jaded thing all my teachers have called “the real world.” I put myself in this position by allowing my work to stand on it's own, and someone liked it. So simple. So brilliant. And it allows me to do what may be my favorite thing to do: sit in a basement room with my cat and do nothing in particular. In the weirdest way, that is when I am at my most creative and productive.

The job hunt continues, but I've found a way to use my skills, improve those skills, and be compensated along the way. And since I started doing this, the phrase “2-3 years experience” doesn't seem like the brick wall that it once was. I'll gain experience, but I'm going to do it my way, and it's going to be an experience.