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It Just Got Real

By Cheryl Scheir

The most challenging part of a freelancer’s life—more than too many assignments, more than having to be self-motivated, more than paying your own taxes—is the risk of a work interruption.

I won’t go into detail about all the things that could go wrong and cause a work stoppage, so use your imagination. My only superstition is the “jinx”—the idea that speaking about something risky will cause it to happen. That, plus saying, “I’m only going to jump headfirst off the top bunk one more time,” is a guaranteed trip to the ER.

Right now, though, I’m facing the possibility of a work interruption in the form of my Dad’s increasingly difficult health situation. As a freelancer, I have commitments to projects. As a daughter, I have a commitment to him.

For now, I’ve let many of my employers know what’s going on, and they are supremely understanding. One even said to call back as soon as I was available again because I’ve become one of their top writers! How lovely. Still, I worry that pulling back for a couple of weeks will set me back a couple of months.

The lesson here? Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. You have commitments to fulfill, and you can juggle them, but only to a point. Know when to wave the white flag, and wave it. The work will come back, at least it always has for me. Work when the going is good. Save for a rainy day. Then give your all to your “real life” when you need to.

And try not to worry too much.

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