What I’m listening to: All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down by The Mavericks
What I’m reading: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
I spent a week in a riverside cottage. In the rain.
I’ll admit that when we drove to Ontario, I was expecting to do a ton of fishing and add an additional layer of freckles. Yet we had just two days in which the sun actually appeared. And naturally, the last day was the best.
But the rest of the week was rain-soaked. Everything in the cottage felt damp. Fish were leaping in the swollen river, and I was stuck inside. No TV. No computer. No cell service. Just books, games and time.
It was glorious.
And it was that week where I learned the most about freelance writing and why some of us do well while others never quite get it together.
I weighed my options. I sat there staring out at the rain — and the boat — and I had a choice. I could don the rain gear, cover myself in bug repellent (the mosquitoes were in hog heaven with all the rain) and try to catch fish, or I could do something else that I’d been wanting to do. I could do what’s expected or do something entirely different. For freelancers, it’s often a choice between the same old shit and doing something different.
I chose wisely. I read. I picked up a book and lost myself in it. Then I napped. Unapologetically, I dozed and gave myself permission to be lazy. And I put together a puzzle. I didn’t worry about sitting at the table for hours — I just did it. I decided mosquito bites and soggy clothes just didn’t appeal. Sort of like taking on work that just sucks but pays quickly. It was that kind of unappealing. I chose what I wanted to do at that moment. And I loved every minute.
I let my mind shut off for a while. It’s strange — usually, when I’m on vacation, even in my favorite place, work invades. Typically, I’m running down my to-do list as I’m packing up the car to head home. This time was different. I was home all afternoon on Sunday and not once did I think of work. Not. Once. Instead, I concentrated on enjoying the last afternoon of vacation. I didn’t even have to try to forget work — it was forgotten the minute I crawled in the car to leave last week. That’s never happened. Never. I think as freelancers, we tend to forget that it’s okay to turn off work. Stop at a certain hour, shut off the computer, and stop checking email on your phone. Allowing yourself some space makes for a healthier attitude and a refreshed spirit.
I never lamented the rain. It’s so easy to bitch and moan when your circumstances don’t meet expectations. But I was tired, mentally exhausted. I didn’t care if the river rose to the front door of the cottage — I wasn’t budging. I was content to be there, to hear the loons and see the birds and beavers. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t terrorizing the fish or running to town every day. I was away from the noise of my life and with two of my favorite people. I felt blessed. With freelancing, we can often think the direction we’re going isn’t what we wanted at all. That’s okay, and it’s equally okay to just let it take you for a while — just to see what happens. Don’t lament a change in direction — embrace it. If you don’t like it later on, ditch it and start in another direction.
Writers, what non-writing-related experiences have you had that you’ve learned from?