On Dream Jobs and the Freelancing Life

“What a dream job you have!” I’ve lost track of all the times I’ve been told that by nonwriting folks who’ve just learned a bit about my life as a freelance writer and editor. And invariably, their response has surprised me, for I generally consider my job to be plain and simple work—a way to support myself, make an honest if minor contribution to society, and hopefully keep my mind in gear.

As I see it, there’s nothing glamorous or exciting about it at all. Indeed, the most dramatic images that spring to mind when I think of my job involve killer deadlines, late-night soirees with my computer, and a constant conviction that I am woefully underpaid for all the blood, sweat, and tears I expend!

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder about the curious take these “outsiders” express. What do they see that I’m missing? Have I, over time, lost sight of something significant, something that drew me to this career long ago?

Recently, I discussed this subject with several freelancing friends, and more than a few shared my somewhat downbeat perspective. Perhaps, some posited, we’re simply suffering from the grass-is-always-greener syndrome. Maybe we’re just getting old and cranky, another offered none too helpfully. But most agreed that our anemic attitudes might also relate to the way in which we ourselves define our careers and gauge our value. For if there’s one thing most freelancers would agree on, it is that you get pitifully little feedback—good or bad—from the world at large when you work a solo gig.

Dream job? or bad dream?

At any rate, since it seems I’m in this gig for the duration, I decided to take stock of my situation from an external perspective as best I could. And I came to see something that’s eluded me in recent years: Despite its distinct limitations, my freelancing life does have some precious advantages, including the freedom to choose when and for whom I work. Moreover (and this is a biggie), I have no direct boss to cater to or cross swords with, and I never, ever, have to deal with office politics. No small compensations, to be sure.

There are downsides, but …

With such thoughts in mind, as I looked up from my computer in the wee hours this morning after hustling to meet yet another looming deadline, I felt less like a weary worker bee and more like a dedicated professional, less like a bogged-down and put-upon wordsmith and more like the dynamic and creative writer and editor I’ve always hoped to become.

I like that redefined me a whole lot better. In fact, I hope she’ll stick around for a long time!!

Image courtesy of Bing

Joan Sherman

Joan’s long career as a writer and editor has encompassed journalism (with the Denver Post and other newspapers), public relations, advertising, and corporate communications. To date, she has edited over 200 books (primarily nonfiction) and numerous technical publications. She has been a member of Boulder Editors since 2013 and is on the board of the Denver Woman’s Press Club.

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