Break Time

I’m coming up on four years as a freelancer, and in all that time I’m not sure I’ve ever had a proper vacation. Under-employment, which was my status the first two years, is not the same thing as having time off. You have the luxury of taking the day to play games or go hang out in a coffee shop nursing a single latte (they love it when you do that, by the way), but that free time carries feelings of guilt. “Why aren’t you pitching?” is a constant refrain. And if you ever hope to be more than under-employed, chances are you work harder at getting work than you would if you had a steady job.

Anyway, I’m on break now. I didn’t go home for the holidays this year, the first time I’ve not spent Christmas with my family, but it has been the right move.  No travel, no dividing time among families, no coming home in early January more tired than when I left.

So what have I been doing with all this leisure? Well, trying to remember how to enjoy it. The thing about a long-overdue vacation is that you realize all the ways you have let yourself get a little crazy. It’s not just a matter of stopping work and picking up a book. The day after Christmas, I noticed I was tempted to start writing up pitches and get started on some deadlines due in mid-January. Watching people returning to work on Twitter, and half the editors I’ve ever known suddenly getting new gigs, I start to feel like I’m already back at work and I need to start surveying the freelance landscape. It’s even more complicated for me because my home is my office, which is awesome until you realize all your work habits persist right into a break.

So oddly enough, I’m working really hard at not working. I was flat-out exhausted by the end of 2011, and I still need some time before I can get back to fulfilling assignments. My last few months, I felt like the creative part of my work was completely overtaken by the dictates of deadlines and professionalism. If I’m to have a productive and happy year, I need to adjust that balance.

I have plenty of help right now. I’ve spent a lot of this break with friends old and new, and this weekend I’m heading out of town for a weekend of experimental cooking. You can usually find me curled up with a good book and a glass of whiskey, or perhaps I’m under a blanket watching a movie. I just finished Arkham City and will have a lot to say about that soon. Bioshock 2 “Minerva’s Den” and The Witcher both beckon. And I’m even getting a nice walk in just about every day. Who knows, I might even make it to a gym before I head back to work!

But seriously, if it ever looks like I might be working too hard, or I go silent for too long, feel free to drop me a line and let me know I might be overdoing it. Because I find the times I most need a detached perspective are the times when I absolutely lose mine.


  1. See I’m the opposite right now. I had a bit of a thing last fall but got a layoff call two days before Christmas, so one of my main options is to start freelancing this winter. Any suggestions on where to send pitches (other than Escapist)?

    • Dan
    • January 20th, 2012 12:47am

    More writing on can’t be a bad thing, especially to keep my attention away from my own writing problems. I definitely understand what you are saying about the problem of a combined home/work place as well as the unease-bordering-on-feelings-of-guilt which occur whenever you are not working. I have a solution for the first (coffeehouses! if they don’t like you staying all day…fuck em), but I definitely need to develop a strategy for the second.

    Any chance you’re coming out to the Midwest sometime this spring?

      • Flitcraft
      • January 20th, 2012 12:01pm

      Man, it would be nice to come visit the Midwest this spring, but I’ve got travel and conferences like every month for the first half of the year. Time and money will be tight. The big issue with PKT Alumni Weekend is also that it tends to conflict with a very big gaming party my friend throws every year, one that doesn’t take two or three flights to reach. ;)

      We’ll see. In the meantime, aren’t you getting married or something? I imagine that will necessitate some travel.

    • Dan
    • January 21st, 2012 4:29pm

    Yeah….wedding=not happening. Feel free to come to Alumni weekend to commiserate with me.

  1. No trackbacks yet.