It’s one of the hardest parts of freelancing. Suppose you feel like hell. Are you going to do your work? Well, let’s put it this way. If you have a tight deadline, if you are conscious and can function, yeah, you’re going to do your work. Now, the editors I work with are generally very understanding and kind folks, but it isn’t that way everywhere. Plus, understanding and kindness would surely wear thin if you played the card all the time, or even often.
So the bottom line is that yeah, I’m going to do my work. I have a number of entries that must be rewritten by Wednesday, and a timeliness track record to protect. What is more, it must be up to the standards my editors expect from me. Never mind that I’m not physically or mentally up to the standards I expect from myself; an editor reviewing my ms will see only whether it’s okay or not okay.
This is one of the hardest things to convey to prospective writers. There is a writing mentality that I call the “Oh, for a muse…” perspective. It savors la vie litteraire, a world of bons mots and clever epigrams. It yearns to sprinkle random French terms with deep savoir faire. It imagines an ivory tower of eloquence, insight and not having to explain what ‘onomatopoeia’ means. It is pensive people in berets sipping sophisticated coffees in proper coffee shops, as opposed to realtors sipping extra large super-skinny caramel lattes with four shots of mandarin syrup. It hankers after a sense of intellectual superiority, the mojo of being able to say “I’m a writer” and have people coo over you.
Well, I’m a writer, and what it means right now is gluing myself to my machine and getting my work hammered out fueled by Ricolas, coffee, tea, a pizza most would consider toxic waste. The upsides are that I don’t have to talk (I barely can; I sound like Darth Vader) or socialize (always a battle for me to begin with). But I do have to write. I don’t get to plead ‘writer’s block,’ a concept in which I don’t fundamentally believe anyway. If I write, I will get paid and preserve my rep for producing (thus probably getting to write more later). If I don’t, I won’t.
It’s as simple as that.