Freelancing: the key to happiness

June 26, 2014 § 5 Comments

* Note: This blog was written as part of the Elance Blogathon at the Common Room in Parkhurst, Johannesburg. Other entries may be viewed at

Imagine the freelance life. You sleep till the sun softly pokes a finger around your curtains. You stretch, you yawn, you stroke the dog gently sleeping beside your bed. You stumble to the kitchen for the finest arabica coffee, and enjoy it outside on the terrace, where geraniums spill out of terracotta pots onto the paving around you, and the sparrows hop hopefully under the table.

Then it’s time for some yoga, or perhaps some tai chi. You breakfast on croissants and apricot preserves, take a steaming bubble bath, and settle down to work in your new silk pyjamas, the ivory ones with grey piping on the edges. But you’ll just tinker for an hour or two. After all, there’s that fabulous new movie showing at the local arthouse, and you simply must see it today…

And then you wake up and your tea is cold. Stone cold and slightly murky. But you drink the dregs anyway – because you can’t afford to waste the tea bag.

The key to happiness if you’re a freelancer, you see, is to lower your expectations. No, lower… a little lower… yes, that low. About as low as you can go… perfect. Basically, if a Russian circus acrobat couldn’t do the limbo under those expectations you’ve hit the right spot.

So come a little closer while I tell you a tale. A day in the life of a freelancer goes something like this…

5.15am: Press ‘snooze’ on your alarm at least three times and stumble to the kitchen in the dark. You have to save electricity, after all. It’s damn expensive.

5.30am: Have a cup of the best instant coffee you can afford. Have another. You worked till midnight and it’s bloody early. You deserve a second cup. Maybe even a third. Run out of milk and decide today’s the day you’ll start drinking your coffee black.

5.45am: Settle down at your computer and answer your emails. Yes, even the one from that annoying client who micro-manages your every freaking move. Be polite, be sweet, be patient. If it’s cold, put your ratty robe on over your pyjamas. And thick socks. Damn. You really need to buy new socks. These are really looking threadbare.

6.15 am: Work. It’s too early to eat breakfast anyway, and there are deadlines to meet. Besides, the working world will wake up soon, and then you’ll be fielding calls and queries every five minutes.

7. 30am: Breakfast. Toast is the easiest, so today you’ll have peanut butter for a bit of variety. Ooh, look at you, splashing out with apricot jam as well – but only the smooth sort; it may not even be made of actual apricots. Still, it fills the gap.

8am: You should probably get dressed. Nah, not today. You’re not seeing any clients anyway, and these Hello Kitty pyjamas might be frayed, but they’re friendly. Back to work .

9am: Read the entire Internet. Yes, all of it. You cannot possibly afford to miss anything – it might be essential to your work, you know. Essential.

11am: Time for more coffee. Can it be so long since you had the last cup? You’d better do something productive, so you call that client who hasn’t paid you from six months ago. Oh, and the other three from two months ago, and the one from last month. Sigh. Bloody clients. Can’t live with them, can’t get them to pay on time.

11.30am: Smile grimly at the excuses you’ve heard  a gazillion times. Realise your jaw has locked into the tooth-gritting position again. Hold your coffee cup against it in the hope the heat will release the spasm. Gaze out of the window for a bit.

11.4oam: Tinker with a something you’re supposed to be doing. It doesn’t go well. Pick something else . Oh hell, you need to tweet and be on Facebook as well. Apparently a social media presence is good for your profile, but no Actual Work has materialised as a result yet.

12.40pm: Damn. You really should get to work, but it’s practically lunchtime. You’d might as well eat something, keep up your strength. A salad would be nice, but you only have a tin of baked beans and half an avocado that’s slightly black… Besides, you tell the dog, “I never could stand rocket.”

1.30pm: Fall asleep on the couch, drooling slightly.

5pm:. Wake up from a horrific public nudity dream, your heart pounding.

5.10pm: Work, drink coffee, answer queries, bite your tongue, shift in your seat. Forget to eat dinner.

11.49pm: Shut down your laptop and crawl into bed, ready to do it all again tomorrow.






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§ 5 Responses to Freelancing: the key to happiness

  • Kit says:

    Liked the bit about having to read all of the internet! All of it!
    And the juggling of the school runs didn’t make it in there, I guess because of having to get out of pjs to do it and ruining the continuity… but otherwise a very accurate portrait!
    I used to work through Elance, when I first started writing. Still have one client from those days, and occasionally look in there, but not so much nowadays. Do you get work through them?


    • It’s only partly autobiographical – I don’t even like avos! But I had an 800-word limit, so to add in all the juggling with school lifting and forgotten lunches would’ve made it too long. I haven’t even registered with Elance yet; just heard about the blogathon and decided to enter.


  • Rami Ledwaba says:

    After reading this, I wanna be a full time freelancer 🙂

    Yes, I think I will make a brilliant one!!! Beautiful hilarious read my Mandy, love it!!!


  • mariekeates says:

    That sounds like my three months of being unemployed 🙂


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