31. March 2011 · Comments Off on Dreamweaver · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, General, Veteran's Affairs

My daughter and I just lamented this week – that for two people who are not employed full-time, we are indeed awfully busy. We must maintain a calendar, to keep track of it all, and when one of us is due someplace, to do something or other. The patchwork of part-time jobs that we hold between us is sufficient to our needs. I am retired military; she draws a small disability pension from the Veterans’ Administration and is intermittently going to school in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. I write books – which brings in a trickle of royalties and direct sales – blog for pay at a local realtor’s website, partner in a small publishing firm, free-lance edit and write, also part-time at a tiny ranch real estate firm, occasionally constrict a website . . . all of this does not produce a predictable income-stream, but it does produce one. Free lance; that is, I am a soldier of writing fortune, and to put it in modern terms, an independent contractor. I work for straight pay, when I want to, and take my pay from those who I agree to work for on specific projects for writing services rendered.

It’s fun – perilous but fun. I just can’t look at the beginning of the month and predict with any degree of absolute confidence exactly how much will be in the bank account by the end of it. That there will be enough to meet needs – is usually the case. It’s just that I never know when or where they will be coming from. Something always turns up, usually without any warning at all. It’s a bohemian way to live without the je ne sais quoi of actually being a bohemian, but it does have rewards, such as being able to set one’s own work schedule. I know what I have to do, to finish the current job; I can do it early in the morning, on the weekend, on a holiday, there is no one hanging over me, logging every key-stroke, I can kick back on a mid-week afternoon and we can go to a movie, if we feel like it.

I worked for all kinds of businesses after retiring from the military, none of which I built a second career out of, although I had kind of counted on doing exactly that. But it just didn’t work out. My business partner in the Tiny Publishing Bidness says that it didn’t work out for her for very long, either – she got bored, and couldn’t work days. For myself, I could never work for a monolithic big company again – reliable and enduring – but also boring as hell. I also worked for small local firms, which turned out to be just as unsatisfactory but in a different way. The best of them went broke or relocated out of state, and the worst of them were advertised to me as places which regarded their employees as just like family. What I came to realize is that they treat them as part of a viciously dysfunctional and abusive family. OK, then – getting out from under that kind of burden is another reward of being a free lance.

My daughter also has an eccentric work schedule, aside from her occasional classes: she cleans house once a month for a neighbor who has health issues and is confined to a scooter-chair. Lovely person – lives just around the corner from us. She also had a gig doing computer training for another neighbor who was just dipping her toes into this new-fangled computer/internet thingy, and needed about an hour of coaching once a week, in order to cope with her email and her Netflix account. Twice a week, she collects the children of another neighbor from school, and baby-sits them until their older brother gets home from school. She also works as my personal assistant when I do a book-talk, which is no-end useful to me, although currently this is for no pay. She’ll inherit the rights to my books, though – so that’ll work out. And when it comes to doing what we call “being a real Arthur” – having an assistant helps no end. She has an occasional job, delivering for a local company which does fruit-flower arrangements, thanks to a friend who recommended her. It’s only on major holidays, but she is trusted as a reliable and professional part-timer; every month that there is a gift-giving occasion in it, she’s there and on the job for anything from two to five days. She’s also been helping with the work of the Tiny Publishing Bidness, and is thinking of taking classes in graphic arts – and courses which would be of use to a tiny independent publishing firm. And she also earns a paycheck with the Tiny Publishing Bidness; doing housekeeping for my business partner twice a month, and weekly performing errands and fix-it stuff. This makes her income a little more predictable. She was let go from her own full-time/flex time job two years ago; another one of those local Tiny Bidnesses which could no longer afford an office manager. So – there it is. I think we got our hard times a couple of years ago, and now we’re ahead of the game, at least by a couple of lengths.

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