This week has seen us (myself and the children) facing the dreaded return to school – some of us with more stoicism and good grace than others. I’ll readily admit I was hugely unwilling to get up and out on Monday morning, especially because the kids didn’t start back until Tuesday or Wednesday – INSET days are so much less attractive now that I’m one of the unfortunate trainees.
For the children, the return to school means routine, regular hours, a social life – all things which they lack during the summer holidays, living as we do in a semi-rural village with few or none of their friends close by. It means much the same to me too, of course, but with the added complication that I must resume juggling the day job with my freelance (writing and editing) work.
Most writers will, at some point or other, have combined writing with another job. Unless you do it as part of another occupation (if you’re an academic, say, or a journalist), writing will rarely pay enough by itself to support a home and family – and those lucky few who do hit the big time and make their writing PAY are the envy of the rest of us.
For me at least, freelance editing is much the same – I work regularly, but not frequently enough to be able to depend on my earnings to support my family. For the first couple of years of my editing career this was not a problem because my partner was working, but when he lost his job very suddenly in early 2009 I needed to start bringing in regular money, and in June of that year I started working as a TA at a local school.
Since then I’ve combined editing and writing with working 8.30am to 3.30pm during term-time, and mostly it has worked well. I’m able to be at school during the day, at home with the kids between 3.30pm and bedtime, and then I work into the evenings, and I suspect most of my editing clients don’t even know I also have a day-job. (They do now…) Of course, as long as I work with them professionally and efficiently there’s no reason why they should know, or why it should matter, and since I’ve been working at school I’ve continued to build a freelance client base and have also written a novel, a novella and numerous short stories and articles. Some of these have even been published.
This is not to say it hasn’t sometimes been difficult, but in fact the problems have usually occurred when I haven’t been at school – during holidays, when manuscripts arrive for editing and publication deadlines loom while the children wreck the place for lack of entertainment. However, with a bit of forward planning (and a few late nights) those times can be kept to a minimum, so that we can all take time out together. Which, after all, is the whole point of flexible freelance work in the first place.