As I sit here on a Sunday morning, it’s raining outside – a steady, cold drizzle.
“Sunday morning?” you wonder. Isn’t that kinda late to be writing something that usually goes out on… Sunday?
But I’ve struggled this week to find the right subject to write about. Just couldn’t find anything. I have, I fear, lacked for inspiration.
And when I find myself in this situation – oh, yes, believe me, it’s happened before – I step back, let my vision get all fuzzy, and see what happens.
And guess what?
Something happened this morning. Something that brought a great topic right into focus. And I wasn’t even looking for it. Cool, huh?
It happened when I read novelist Ann Patchett’s great piece in the Washington Post this morning. I am fond of Ann Patchett’s writing. You may know some of her books – Run, Bel Canto, The Patron Saint of Liars. In the Washington Post, Patchett writes that she fears she doesn’t treat her writing as if it’s a full time job, and resolves to do so in 2010. At least for the first 32 days of the year. Because, you see, a friend told her that doing something different for 32 days will make a permanent change.
So, Ann Patchett, 46 year-old author of five novels, two non-fiction books and a zillion essays and articles needs to make her writing a full-time job?
Funny, that. And familiar.
See, this week two different people told me that I didn’t work full-time.
I know. Me. Not full-time. Funny, right?
And I think it’s all about their idea of what full-time looks like. It’s all about quantity over quality. As if being chained to a desk for 60+ hours a week is the only respectable measure of full-time work. And the idea that you can set office hours, and not work on weekends, and make a respectable living is a mind blower.
Did you know that there are 42 million Americans who are self-employed, freelance or do temp work? That’s 30 percent of our workforce. Forty-two million people who decide what their work hours will be. Forty-two million people who make their own salaries, pay their own health insurance and fund their own retirement accounts. Forty-two million people who have decided for themselves what full-time looks like.
My dear friend Pam Slim, author of Escape From Cubicle Nation, tackles the subject of becoming one of the 42 million beautifully.
And I’m going to suggest her next book be titled Escape From Cubicle Mindset.
Because Cubicle Mindset says that the only work that’s valid is done from sunrise to sunset in an office, directed by a supervisor a pay grade above you, and rewarded with a steady, reliable, marginally increasing paycheck.
But Cubicle Mindset is woefully outdated. Cubicle Mindset tells us that there is only one way to make money. And be productive. And be valued.
And I disagree. And plenty of other people disagree, too. Forty-two million disagreers, actually.
Because I can make more money working on my terms than I have ever made working for someone else. And the best thing? I have time. I have time to create, to connect, and to let inspiration find me.
Oh, and it comes in the most unlikely places. Especially when I’m not looking. Or when I don’t look like I’m working.
And what Ann Patchett may find she’s missing when she moves to writing one hour a day to writing ten or how many ever hours she considers “full-time”, is the time to gestate. The time to let inspiration find her, maybe even find her while she’s at Costco with her mother. After 32 days she may have a quantity of words on paper, but as to quality?
Maybe she’ll write a book about it.