Freelancing involves many quality-of-life perks, most of them unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but highly helpful to your peace of mind and, well, quality of life.
Foremost among these to me is what you can do with the extra hour or two that you're not commuting. I have been inordinately lucky in the past in terms of commute, rarely racking up more than half an hour in each direction, but most would lose a full two hours per day. Now, I have that extra hour or two for me, or for Parkbench, as required.
As I can place my feet on the floor and be dressed, caffeinated and at work in fifteen minutes, I try to use that extra time (rather than sleep). As I say, many of these gift hours go straight back into work.
This summer, I'm taking advantage of my extra hour to cook nice meals for myself, himself and friends. Staying in, the new going out tra la... you get the idea. Freelancers eat lunch alone bar meetings and the odd lunch date (no, we can't go across town for your lunch hour, that's two hours to us!), and it's great to be able to work at home and plonk these leftovers on a plate for your lunch al desko.
Maybe stick one of these in the oven for a friend for dinner... When's the last time a nine-to-fiver had time to bake something when they got home? Or run to the fishmonger at lunch?
How about some of these for dessert, no?
It may seem like silliness, but when funds are low, going out on the town is a bad idea. It's hard to go from working at home to socialising at home; it feels like you're still at work. Taking your lunch break to make your place the place to be is worth it. Alternate the twelve-hour days with the eight-hour ones that include nice meals with people you like, and you'll be out on the town again in no time.
'Learning curve' is an overused phrase, so I'll put it in a box down the garden. Meanwhile, I've learned a great truth of freelancing.
Freelancers don't get paid on time.
Many clients are like clockwork, no problems, but even the best slip once in a while. I've coded invoices, and yes, I've put them off. I tell you what I've never done: handed in work late.
Thing is, if clients pay late, Parkbench freelancers get paid late, and that is not where we want to be, you'll doubtless agree. I'd be more straightforward than most when it comes to issues of money (though I know that we in the arts are supposed to be beyond such concerns!) but it's a good issue to highlight for all of us, I think.
Some people swear by terms of service agreements. Beyond the most basic good faith agreements regarding hiring and farming out work, I've found resistance to freelance contracts in the publishing world. Late fees for non-payment? If you've failed to get the fee you earned in on time, how do you intend to get in your interest?
Along similar lines, I've had some emails in from freelancers offering to do work for free by way of a test for me. Work for free? No, no, no. Let your experience and your references speak for themselves, hey? Have a little faith.
The same is true for students. As someone about to embark on an MPhil, are students of publishing and translation openly looking to build their portfolios for nothing? Sure, there's a baseline of experience you have to build, but beyond that, you have to wonder...
The Guardian is now accepting nominations for the best Irish bookshop for their bookworm-generated guide. Judging by the breakdown of other regions covered across the UK and across the world, they're meaning to include shops across the island of Ireland.
Do it do it!
I'm thinking of the Winding Stair, but it's much diminished in hours and ambiance since the swank, chain-owned restaurant moved in. I liked the dirty windows and the grimy teapots of yore... I go to Reader's in Dun Laoghaire a good bit, but mainly to sell. Books Upstairs is good, and they have an online service through their fantastic website. My own neck of the woods is disturbingly bookshop-free, so will have to have a think.