Summertime when we were kids 25-30 years ago (cringe with me, friends) may have been the last gasps of unstructured play. The moms were mostly home and if not, an older sibling and anyone else home on the street were accepted as generally enough supervision. These moms did not want their kids or anyone else’s inside their house if they could help it. It was summer. We were told to go outside or at least play in the garage. As long as the door wasn’t slamming too much, the moms were happy.
One game we returned to many summers was “bank.” Pens, notepads, Monopoly money and an old 1970’s date stamp with ink pad were all we needed. Somehow this game entertained us for hours. It was quiet, much to the delight of my Mom. By afternoon we might have moved on to go-cart or fort building, or a good game of “chase” with cap guns, but the next morning we would set up our bank office again.
These days my morning routine has not changed much since leaving The Job two months ago. I still get out of bed early, walk the dog, make the coffee, and with a full bottle of drinking water sit down to work at 8:30. Only now the commute is 20 feet rather than 20 minutes. I check email, review my calendar, peruse online news, then pick up where I’ve left off on reading or writing projects.
My big consignment shop desk is a not-so-ergonomic catch-all so a secondhand typewriter table has new life as a laptop table. To my left is an end table that holds a vertical file and behind me is another end table that supports a laser printer and the collection of paper to go with it.
In the back corner is a two-drawer file cabinet that also holds the home office inkjet printer/scanner/copier/fax machine. A wireless hub connects me to the outside world, and a “cloud” wireless external hard drive in the basement is my document back up.
I have pens, pencils, files and notepads. Soft classical music is my chosen “white noise” and style manuals and reference books are an arm’s length away. Invoices I’ve sent out come back with real checks that I deposit in the bank. I carry business cards everywhere and have had occasion to hand out more than a dozen in the last two weeks.
So why do I sometimes feel like a fraud? Why am I remembering those summers when all the neighborhood kids played “bank”?
Being a freelance writer is a small business. The writing is the easy part. Being the small business, I’m finding, is the hard part. I have been trying to read my way to legitimacy, but I have taken myself as far as I can go on my own.
The type of freelance business I want to run is community-based as opposed to taking jobs from online word-mills where I would be paid approximately 2 cents per word. I’m worth more than that. When I shake someone’s hand and tell them I am a freelance writer, my next move is to find out how their business might need my writing expertise. Then when I hand them my business card, as far as they know I am a real live professional.
I’m pulling myself up by my bootstraps, as they say, by taking a five-week small business workshop series from a local non-profit, S.C.O.R.E. (Service Corps of Retired Executives – although not everyone involved is retired). Aside from a global bank affiliation that I prefer to ignore, these guys in their khaki pants, blue button-down shirts and brass-buttoned blazers are starting to grow on me. (There are women, too, but they seem not to have received the memo on the uniform).
They dress the part. Now they’re teaching me how to act the part. My next writing project? To write my own business plan.