The Ugly Side of Freelancing

There are so many positives to freelancing from sites like Upwork (full disclosure, this is where I freelance from). You can earn some money on the side to earn an income. If you’re really lucky, like I have been a few times, you can find clients that will pay you as much as a part-time job. The plus side is that you don’t have to worry about daycare. They market to this group of people. The ones that need extra money to help make ends meet. Some sites, including soon Upwork, charge for the services of finding a job. Though I may consider ending this relationship, should they also take a cut of my earnings in addition to helping me find work. Because that’s double dipping and I’m not sure that I’m okay with this.

The main reason why this is a problem is because you’re essentially paying someone to not do anything but process payments. You’re paying someone for work, only so that the clients can not pay you without any repercussions. There are no payment protections for freelancers, unless you get the coveted hourly paying job. In those cases, you can sometimes get protections so long as you are logging the hours and not putting them in manually. These are sites that are meant to benefit the organization that connects the freelancers and their clients. These are meant to benefit the clients. They are the ones who get to literally pay pennies for work, while expecting $15 an hour worth of work. You can’t have it both ways. Or you can, because who’s going to stop you? This is a system that isn’t a level playing field where both parties gain a benefit.

For instance, I have a client that pays about $2 per 500 words. It’s ghostwriting so not only do I get paid only $2 per 500 words, I also don’t get credit for the work to build up a portfolio to show my experience. I get emails sometimes at 7 or 8 at night, expecting the work to be done that day. Sometimes I have to write 4000 words in only a few hours because that’s when I have to go to bed. Or I don’t get full instructions or any instruction then I have to rewrite something that if they had offered instructions, I would have given them exactly what they wanted. Best part of this gig? Sometimes I go 3 or 4 months without getting paid. And there’s nothing I can do about it. Because there are more clients like that than not.

That isn’t to say my entire experience on this site is terrible. I have found some amazing clients on this site, one of whom I still work with and is easily one of the best clients ever. Another one paid very well and was also very generous, but they didn’t need freelancers anymore. But the bad experiences make me hesitant to find more clients, despite the fact that it would be extremely helpful if I could find something great again. The main point is that there aren’t enough protections for freelancers when they do get stuck in terrible contracts. If they just leave, they get a bad review that hurts their rankings. Considering I’m a Top Tier freelancer, that would hurt my amazing rating on the site. But that doesn’t help the fact that sometimes clients just don’t feel like paying so they don’t. Which is insane when you think about it. Because you know that some clients are getting paid $15-$20 an article, paying you only $1-$2 per article, while they earn the “big money”. It’s essentially a pyramid scam that you think will work out for you.

With the high amount of the workforce that is currently freelancing, you would think that something would change. But there is no regulation, likely because it would be a logistical nightmare to try. Instead, I get to make myself feel better about the ugly side of this industry that could have so much promise for people like me who need to be at home with their kids. Those who may not have any marketable skills outside of the arts, also like me. Freelancing sites need to do better about protecting their freelancers and making sure that they get the money that they earned, without feeling defeated.

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Watching Things Grow

I’m a creator. I like putting my time and effort into things and watching them grow or taking the shape of something that I envisioned. I like to sculpt and the challenge of working towards a design in my mind. I like to draw, watching these images in my head get translated in a mediocre way on paper. I like to write and watch that writing turn into a complete work. I especially like it when my hard work gets noticed, even accomplish a specific deadline or goal with it. I particularly love the reactions I receive. Maybe this is why I enjoy parenting.

It’s always great to see what your hard work and determination can accomplish. I love the thrill of seeing your hard work pay off, especially when you get the exact outcome that you were hoping for. That’s one of the best things about being an artist. You agonize over every detail, just hoping that you will get a product that you will be proud of even if you had to make a few pivots along the way. That’s the great thing about art though. You take it where it leads you, throwing away whatever plan you may have had.

I can’t wait to share some upcoming good news with you guys on new projects and the like. But for now, I can hold my head up high knowing that maybe I am on the right path after all.

Sorry, But I’m Not Really Sorry

Whenever someone stops by and sees my house, looking like a bomb went off in it, I instantly apologize. Instead of saying “yeah, it’s called my children/husband/dogs, and honestly I was too tired to deal with it”, I apologize and just say that I wasn’t feeling well. Sure, it’s a half truth. The real truth: I’m not sorry. I’m not really even embarrassed. I honestly, don’t really care. Some days, you are going to come into my house that looks professionally cleaned. But most days, you’re going to find a disaster. And honestly, if you have a problem with it then that’s more on you than me. If that dictates how you view me as a friend or a mom, than I’d rather you not come over anyways.

It’s the normal thing to do right? To apologize for a mess? To apologize for anything? I know people can tell I’m not really sorry when I’m really not, but I say it anyways. Because honestly, I don’t think that they care if I mean it. I think they just want me to say the words. I’ll concede that. It’s what we’re trained to do. But I’m not sorry. I really don’t even care.

Mom’s have a lot to do. Stay at home moms, moms who stay home and work from home, moms who go out to work. It doesn’t matter. We all deal with the same struggles of having a list longer than there are hours in the day. We’re on the clock 24/7. I get up at 5:30am, and sometimes don’t get to sleep until 1 or 2 am. That’s not counting the 10000 times that I wake up in the middle of the night for anxiety/kids/dogs/general body not cooperating things. I have my to-do list. I’m not special or a supermom. I’m just a barely average mom. Maybe even a mediocre one.

Stop apologizing for not meeting other people’s standards. You’ll feel much better about yourself if you don’t. Own your mess. You are your own person and if they have a problem with that, they know where the door is. It’s that thing hidden behind the mass amount of recycling that has amassed in your dining room that they barely made it through when they entered in the house.

A Much Needed April Fool’s Day

The day of pranks. The day where your favorite companies put out the most ridiculous ideas for the amusement of their fans. Sometimes their ideas are so ridiculous but so good that you can’t help but to want these plans to come to fruition. It was refreshing to see something so ridiculous that it couldn’t possibly be true and realizing that you weren’t actually reading the news. It was a great change for me.

But the day has ended. Now we are stuck reading news that is too ridiculous to be true but actually is. When your instinct after reading a headline is to check if it’s from The Onion or some other similarly hilarious news site. Where there is a Reddit dedicated to “NotTheOnion” news stories. There isn’t going to be a giant meteor coming down to destroy us; we’re doing an awesome enough job doing it ourselves. I don’t mean this as a compliment.

We are being pandered to and lied to and told that anyone who is against us are the enemy. The Russian investigation? A ploy by the sore loser democrats who are the enemy of the people. The bad media coverage? A ploy by our enemy, the media. Does AOC and Donald Trump get unfair coverage from the “other side”? Absolutely. But if you ask me, there shouldn’t be an “other side” when it comes to reporting. It should be facts, not opinion wrapped up in a box titled “facts”. The enemy isn’t the one correcting the facts; it’s the one that’s spreading misinformation and enjoying the ignorance in those who blindly follow.

Are there media outlets and pundits willingly misleading us? You’d be silly to think that they aren’t. These people aren’t in it for their journalistic integrity; that’s a thing of the past. They are a business. And the best business model right now is feeding into the misinformation and half-truths by offering more, not correcting the news.

It’s more important than ever to look at things from someone else’s point of view. To listen to each other. To be kind to each other. These people are only profiting off of us fighting about what’s fact and what’s fiction. We can change it.

Overcoming the Writer’s Block

A submission is due in 10 days for an anthology. 10 days. I keep writing, but I end up tossing everything. It doesn’t seem right. I don’t like the start. What was I thinking when I wrote that? My brain tells me to go again and I do. It’s a long struggle. I have stories in mind that I want to write. In fact, I have manage to plan out NaNoWriMo already with a new idea isn’t of trying to add 50,000 more words to last year’s. I have considered reworking the 25,000 words I completed last year to create a 5,000 word short story. But I didn’t feel I could. It’s not a great time.

It’s not as simple as just writing. That’s the problem when you work in a creative industry. If your brain isn’t functioning that day, you struggle to complete your tasks for the day. You don’t get paid. Other professions, you can have an off day but you still get paid for it. When you have to create ideas and your brain decides “Nah, maybe tomorrow”, you’re stuck. You can try everything in your power to untie this not, but it’s not likely going to work as well as you’d hope.

Yesterday was probably my most productive day I’ve had in a while. The good news is I still have saved the 2 pieces I have started. The bad news is I’m still not feeling it. I hoped that a few days away would have helped the creative process along. It didn’t. But, I’ve always been a “crunch at deadline” kind of writer. Something will hit me and then I will be unstoppable writing. The problem when you spend your writing energy freelancing and ghostwriting to earn money, is that you exert all of your creative energy on those projects. Sometimes for only a few dollars per article. Then when it’s time for you to work on your own projects, it doesn’t work out well.

It isn’t easy being someone in the creative industry. There is no definitive on how good you are. Art is appreciated by some and mocked by others. I still love it. Here’s to hoping that getting through my projects gets a little bit easier now that the weather is getting nicer and I can enjoy some fresh air to clear my head.

Parenting is All About Figuring it Out

It would be really easy if you could look in a book and learn all about how to be the best parent. You can’t, though. It would be great if children fit into some textbook mold so you can know what to expect. But they don’t. The reality is parenting is about the unexpected and walking around like you have no clue what’s going on most of the time, but are just really happy that everyone survived the day. Even if it did require a Deathwish french press coffee in the morning and only God knows how many other cups of instant caramel latte you consumed throughout the day.

I had my first child at 18. Imagine all of that insane wisdom that came with it for my friends in their future. When they mentioned a birth plan, I laughed. There is no planning it. There’s a “dream”; not a plan. I guarantee for the most part, nothing will go as planned. My birth plan at 18? Not to die in childbirth. I like to set the bar low. My birth plan at 29? Can’t say that it was much different. Just simply having a healthy baby and not dying in a pool of my own blood was sufficient enough. When I hear people start planning out their home birth, I do roll my eyes. I do judge. That’s great and all, but what about the unexpected? People need to learn to not be so rigid if they are going to have kids. Because the unexpected is your life now.

I have been very open about the differences between my oldest and my youngest. My youngest, who seems to be in an endless loop of observations and interventions. When he went to preschool for his IEP, I was happy that he was going to get the help that he needed. Or at least that first year, that they would be able to see that he needed speech therapy and set it up. They did. He got it for his second year of preschool. Then he satisfied his IEP and he went into Kindergarten with no plan. Aside from some anxiety issues, he didn’t do terribly in Kindergarten. For a kid who never spoke before 4, he was not only on par with his class in speech, he was exceeding some. He was a little “active” and had “attention” problems, but we all attributed them to his sensory disorder. It was fine.

Then at his parent teacher conference back in November, it was suggested that they do an occupational therapy evaluation on him because of some issues such as his handwriting and need for noise cancelling headphones in class. His teacher has been great. Eventually I finally got a letter a couple of months later. I was anxious to see what the results were. If they mailed it, that means they didn’t need to setup a meeting for an IEP, right? It turns out, it was a letter to inform me that there was more testing needed. It was stressful. When you have been dealing with evaluations for practically his whole life for various things, it does get into your head a little. It isn’t about me thinking he’s less than anything because of these interventions. It isn’t about what other kids will think of him. It’s all about wanting to do the best for your child. If he needs the help, I’m going to make sure that he gets what he needs. I want him to succeed. I want him to thrive. I just hate the waiting game, because that means you just sit around worrying until the results come in.

No one expects watching their young child go into surgery when they are planning out the nursery. No one expects struggling through evaluations when they feel that first kick. No one expects that they are going to agonize over every decision that they make because who knows what the repercussions are for their future. There is no greater responsibility in the world than being a parent. My best advice that I have ever given to any other parent is: “At the end of the day, as long as you did everything that you could to make sure everyone made it out alive, you did exactly what you were supposed to.” You can’t control what happens, but you can give them the best odds possible.

When You Get Into the Inner Layers

I admit, I look pretty together. People come to me for advice like I have a wealth of knowledge. I wouldn’t necessarily say I have knowledge. I have experience that I gained from really just winging it. Every bit of parenting “wisdom” that I have? There was no real knowledge behind those decisions. There was gut instinct and a crapshoot hoping that things would work out. Sometimes, I just get lucky. That’s really all life and even parenting is, right? Just a crapshoot where sometimes you get lucky, but most of the time you’re just hoping to break even. Even someone as seemingly chill as I am have complicated layers of breakdowns and anger problems, that fortunately (but unhealthily) I can keep in check by ignoring them. I’m really good at that.

But really, it’s those inner layers that we need to pay closer attention to. There’s a distinct difference between just getting by (on an emotional level) and living through the day. It’s that difference that impacts the mental health and suicide statistics. Some people just give up “just getting by”, if they were even fortunate enough to get to the “just getting by” point. There’s also the “barely waking up in the morning”. Of course, these aren’t proper “clinical” terms. These are the realistic terms. Mental health issues aren’t cut and dry because people aren’t.

Ignoring issues are great until you get to the meltdown. When my iPod died, wiped itself of my entire music collection, then wiping my computer of said music collection, I melted down. It wasn’t the fact that this product died, even though there is a sweet engraving on it from my husband, it was about the music that I could never get back. It was about my reliance on this to help me through my writing struggles. Whenever I had writer’s block or needed to focus on my edits, I’d pull out my trusty iPod and things would melt away. Whenever I felt down and was struggling emotionally, I put on my headphones and listened to the music as my problems just went away with it. My music is my therapy, my writing assistant, my workout coach, and it was a love of mine. And it went away. It seems dramatic, but it’s gone. CDs that are no longer in my possession through bad luck and other misfortunes are now gone. It may not have been the thing behind my meltdown, but what it was is something that could’ve helped me prevent the meltdown or pick myself up quicker when I hit the “funk”. But… it’s not there anymore.

Realistically, it was a crutch. Some people ease their issues with medications. I’m lucky where I was able to have this crutch to help me. Even on the “barely waking up in the morning” days. Sure, talking about things would be easier. But who has time for that? Plus, I’m a natural recluse. When I have a problem, my first instinct isn’t to reach out, it’s to curl in. It’s to write it out. Sometimes I throw it out afterwards, sometimes I keep it and make something of it. I’m pretty sure the meltdowns in “A Special Place for Noah” was definitely an accurate representation of that time in my life. I like channeling emotions, not discussing them. I’d like to think that’s what makes me good at what I do. I’d like to also think that’s what makes me a good friend.

I’m here for you. I’m here to listen to what you need to say. I think one of the biggest problems today is that there are a lot of people struggling but no one feels like there is someone that they can talk to. While I relish in that solace on my difficult days, other people can only thrive when one is willing to give up an ear (or their eyes) for just a few minutes. If you don’t have anyone else, I’m here. Sincerely.