My partner lives in Suit World. Every morning the Irishman gets up, irons a shirt, watches sports news on telly from the European neck of the woods, and then dons a suit. Sometimes it’s black, sometimes grey (there’s a somewhat ‘groovy’ brown suit in there that rarely sees the light of day), but always a suit. And sometimes a tie.
I do not live in Suit World. Every morning I get up, and after that it’s always different. Sometimes I put on gym clothes for a spot of morning fitness, if I have time. Sometimes I frock up, hair done, red lippy and eyes lined for a speaking engagement. Sometimes it’s dressing for glamorous comfort if I’m going to be on set or teaching. Sometimes, and how I love these days, I’m writing or working on a submission all day and don’t leave the comfort of jammy jim-jams and slippers.
My Irishman goes to an office every day with a large number of other people in suits (even the lady people). When he gets there, he does mysterious things. I’m not entirely sure what those things are. I know his work involves telephoning people, working with spreadsheets, meeting these puzzling things called targets and making his boss happy. On Friday afternoons it involves having a few drinks in the office, and on Melbourne Cup day it involves not working at all.
My days are as varied as the weather. Just in this last week my work included writing an article in a café in Newtown, speaking on a panel about micro-business in Parramatta, teaching for a day in Leichhardt, and writing a tender for a film job in my little home office. My working week is rarely 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, and on Melbourne Cup day (that cruellest day for freelancers) I work alone and drink with nobody.
Still, I think the Irishman and I are making our mixed marriage work. We sit down to dinner every evening with the little ladies and share the details of our day. I do my best to decipher Suit Talk and he tries valiantly to understand my weird working life. We try to be enthusiastic and empathetic to each other, although it’s hard for him to be excited when I have one of those bitty days so common in the freelance life. You know those days – you muddle around in the office all day, chase a few invoices, email a couple of clients, start a few projects but don’t finish them, procrastinate over something or rather – bitty. It’s all productive and yet nothing really worthy of discussion at dinner.
But we try. We even try to keep our jealousy at bay, especially if I take a Tuesday off to go to the movies, and of course on Melbourne Bloody Cup day. But envy is rare. Mostly we look at the other’s life and marvel that anyone could be so brave as to face that strangeness. He couldn’t imagine doing anything productive in jammies, and I would rather gouge out my eyes than don the black or grey uniform and head into Suit World. I love that he has the strength and character needed to work for others, and he admires the spirit and whimsy that it takes to run a creative business.
Mutual respect, that’s the key. And perhaps having something to talk about other than work, hallelujah!
Until next time, happy freelancing.
Freelancing for Australian (for Dummies) is available in bookstores and via the Freelance Success website right now – visit https://www.creativeplusbusiness.com/books for more information.