Immediately after I left the Aquarius, I went travelling for awhile to see friends in Quebec City and family in Baltimore. Around Labo(u)r Day, I got back. Since then, I’ve been freelancing– writing without the benefit of colleagues, all-you-can-drink coffee and company paid internet, guaranteed publication or indeed a guaranteed income. Which is a bit like this:
7:45 a.m.: Wake up, mind fizzing with new, half-formed project ideas
8:15 a.m. Go through news and morning emails while listening to CBC shows and waiting for kettle to boil.
8:20 a.m.: Realize that coffee from yesterday is sitting there in the French press, abandoned. Press it, chug it and make up some hot.
8:29 a.m. Learn that the recurring contract that had been waved in front of your face as a slightly-more-than-remote possibility won’t exist after all. Deep breath, bite back tears, burn mouth with hot coffee, keep listening to World Report.
9:15 a.m.: Go through list of pitches that need follow-up
10:00 a.m.: Call and email source who gave you half of what you needed for a story and then disappeared off the face of the earth.
10:40 a.m.: Compose pithy and articulate Instagram captions for cocktail recipes as part of a copy test.
11:20 a.m.: In massive email inbox full of drivel, find a press release related to something you’ve been wanting to pitch. Slap together a pitch, send it to an editor and spend the entire afternoon pressing refresh to see if they’ve received it.
11:45 a.m. Begin transcribing interview for story due later this week. Process slowed down significantly by constant pressing refresh.
12:00 noon: Over lunch, notice a call for pitches that looks interesting. Skim the website and notice they don’t pay. But they are a for-profit company. Who has time for that nonsense? Press refresh. Again.
1:00 p.m.: Receive email from aforementioned editor: “It’s not that I dislike your pitch. I like it a lot actually, but we don’t have the budget right now.” Brief episode of banging head against wall, followed by giddiness that the arts editor of [major urban daily] now knows you exist.
1:25 p.m.: Make third cup of coffee. Forget it in the French press.
1:47 p.m.: Receive email from editor you pitched three days before: “I’d love to go through with this pitch if you can get it to me in x format by y date, for z dollars.” HAPPY DANCE!!!
2:15 p.m.: Compose pithy, articulate questions for human rights activist from beleaguered post-conflict nation.
3:00 p.m.: Get so sick of spending time with yourself that you absolutely can’t stand being surrounded by walls for one more minute. You have two options, the coffeeshop (will set you back a few dollars) and the library (free, but hey, no coffee and you can’t talk on the phone). Sidewalk is full of elderly people, moms with strollers on mat leave, groups of daycare kids on leashes, people begging by the supermarket, drunks on their front steps and adults with developmental disabilities who cheer when the crosswalk signal changes from “Don’t walk” to “Walk.” It’s pretty depressing, really. You pick the coffeeshop and continue your transcribing, constant pressing refresh for this morning’s pitch responses, and occasional detours into the world of cat videos and inane Facebook debates, reassured by the silent kinship of every self-employed writer-type in the neighbourhood.
3:15 p.m.: Skim the paper, look at the want ads. Maybe we need a sideline? See an ad for survey interviewers. Consider it briefly, then remember the job you had in undergrad with the sadistic human resources director, who, when you were late once in two years, managed to make you feel simultaneously completely insignificant and like a basketball player who had missed a league-championship-winning shot. Remember the taste of cheap six-inch Subway sandwiches, scarfed down before the end of the 20-minute lunch break. Ugh. A sideline, maybe, but not that sideline.
3:40 p.m.: Get email from source for story. She actually wants to meet in person. The prospect of human contact gives you a real boost.
5:20 p.m.: Decide to go to networking event. Will you get a contract out of it? Well, it’s always a possibility, but the main reason is that interacting with other humans is generally considered healthy, and necessary to make sure you don’t lose the power of speech. Watch an interesting documentary– well, there’s that at least.
8:15 a.m.: Go to other networking event, for same reasons mentioned above. Walk past a restaurant. Remember when the last time was that you shelled out for restaurant food. Except for that one bar with the really great cheap tapas.
11:10 p.m.: At the house, press refresh one last time. No, they still haven’t gotten back to you. Your deadline is the day after tomorrow. No need to panic– yet. Compose inane blog post. Watch cat gifs. Catch up on John Oliver. Lights out. And repeat.