Friday, September 30, 2005

The Big Plan

First things first: It is Friday night, and my husband is on an airplane bound for Florida. Am I watching What Not to Wear and drinking a glass of wine? No. Am I out with my friends for a girls' night on the town? No.

I am at the computer (ok, with a glass of zinfandel) listening to the Red Sox-Yankees game on the radio. I was born and raised a Yankee fan, and I'm certainly rooting for the Evil Empire tonight. But I have to admit that a little bit of my heart belongs to Big Papi, Johnny Damon and the rest of the Idiots. Perhaps I've lived in New England too long, or been married to a diehard member of Red Sox Nation too long... but I can't help it. They're a bunch of quirky, funny characters, and it's a lot of fun to follow them.

Just so we're clear: I still want the Yankees to win.

Ok, with that out of the way, I can dive into a post that makes me a little nervous, because it involves writing about work. I'm still not planning to go into detail about my job (no doocing for me, thank you veddy much), but since the Big Plan would involve changing jobs, there's kinda no way around acknowledging some of what the problem is for me at the moment. In many respects, I love my job. It is challenging and fulfilling and tangible -- every time we go to press, I end up with a printed product in my hands that, essentially, I made. No, I didn't make the paper or run the printing press, but I was integrally involved with every other non-sales-related aspect of its production. And that is immensely satisfying. What's more, I love my coworkers and really appreciate the support I get from my boss. The company has afforded me a tremendous amount of opportunity and rarely, if ever, says no to a reasonable request.

And this is where the "but" comes in: This job takes a lot out of me. In large part because of my own high standards, I spend many long hours at work or working at home. And, without significantly lowering my standards, I don't see any way to change that situation. And that's not for lack of trying. As Darren and a few friends in particular can attest, hours have been spent problem-solving about ways to be more efficient, or to delegate more (not bloody likely when everyone else is as overworked as I am), or to simply care less -- all to no end.

[Sorry, it's the bottom of the 5th and the Sox have the bases loaded and Trot Nixon is up. Must pause for a moment.]

[Holy crap, the Yankees just walked in a run. 3-1 Sox. Yeesh. The bases are, obviously, still loaded, and Wang is still pitching. What is Joe Torre thinking?]

[Error by Giambi, and Ortiz scores. 4-1. Egads.]

Wow, it is awfully hard to think deep thoughts about my career when baseball is this exciting. But I will persevere, and cut to the chase: I am thinking very, very seriously about quitting my job and freelancing full-time. [Manny just scored. 5-1.] This is something I've pondered in the past and dismissed relatively quickly: I don't have enough contacts. It's too risky. You have to spend a significant portion of time pitching the next story, and the one after that. You don't have a steady income.

However, I realized over the course of a couple conversations in the last week, freelancing is something I've always planned to do someday. But, like everything else, the time will never be perfect. And there is so much about freelancing that sounds right -- the ability to write about lots of different topics, rather than the one to which I'm largely restricted these days. The ability to set my own schedule. The ability to take advantage of the fact that I write quickly and thus can maximize my free time. The ability to be responsible simply for my own work rather than for the work of others.

So, the task ahead is to figure out whether this is really possible. And partly that's why I'm choosing to write about this here. It all sounded very good and feasible when we were driving through the foothills to our friends' cabin earlier this week, and sitting by the fire and climbing a couple mountains. But as soon as we drove back into town and confronted my email inbox and the bills in the mail and the day-to-day routine, this plan seemed much more distant. I need to say it out loud to make it become more tangible. I need y'all to occasionally pester me about whether I've made any progress on my research, which involves items including determining how much money we have to make in order to cover our bills (and, ideally, save a little), checking with the editors for whom I currently freelance about what kind of work they might be able to send my way if I were available full-time and talking with some friends and acquaintances who are currently freelancing about how they manage their finances and workload. I need to determine whether we can make a go of this. And, if not, I need to look for another job.

[Yankees apparently score two while I am deep in thought about the preceding paragraph. 5-3.]

With that, I'm heading off to wander my blogroll and catch up with y'all. Torre is finally yanking Wang, and it's time to call it a night.