Freelancers' Blues

A Day in the Life

by Jason Gross

19 April 2009


There’s a great freelancer named Adam but there’s one problem—his name isn’t Adam and he can’t use his real name because he wants to talk to you honestly about his work. You’ve probably seen his work if you read nation-wide music publications in the States and England. Like other full-time freelancers, he has several bosses that he has to report to and keep happy. That also means that he has to juggle his work around, meet several deadlines, always be flexible, be on the ready to do rewrites as many times as it takes and then follow-up to make sure that he gets paid for his work as promised. That’s just his job, even with the reputation that he has.

Out of frustration, he sent me a list of his routine one day, just to show what he goes through, calling it “The Morning of a Freelancer”. I thought it would be instructive to post that here, not just so that other scribes can commiserate with this but also to give outsiders a peak into this ‘glamorous’ life.

1. Log on to bank account to see if check (for $50 less than amount agreed upon with editor) has cleared so that phone bill can be paid.

2. Discover health insurance company has cashed $300 check mailed nearly a month earlier.

3. Note negative balance, exacerbated by $200 overdraft fee on bank account, despite funds waiting to clear.

4. Pick up phone to call bank to complain about overdraft fee when funds are there anyway and, really, what the fuck is up with charging people for being broke?

5. Discover phone is turned off.

6. Wake up roommate, borrow phone.

7. Call bank. Have humanity broken by corporate-speak. Yell.

8. Get overdraft fee reversed by nice Indian woman, who also notes rest of check won’t clear until Friday.

9. Contact editors, find out status of $1,000+ worth of checks due, per their normal payment schedules, a month previous.

10. Get told by one editor that “to be frank, I’m never going to proactively tell you about it” in request for better communication in the future re: payment delay. Feel like demoralized, sub-human beggar for even asking. (Last communication with editor re: payment schedule, quoth editor: “everything is business as usual.”)

11. Dip into savings, wait for transfer to go through.

12. Get email about payment for published article from other publication, observe that it is about $400 less than last piece of same word count for same publication, published six months earlier. Or maybe it’s the exchange rate.

13. Remember the $650 made from selling crappy promo CDs the night before. Brief joy.

14. Bank account shows positive balance, have phone turned back on.

15. Return roommate’s phone.

16. Miss subway.

17. Miss commuter train.

18. Crank up compilation of Mexican tejano jams from the ‘20s. Repeat.

So, you still wanna be a freelancer?

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