with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
We talk a lot about balance, ’round here. Work/life balance. Mother/wife balance. Mother/person balance. Balance is not an unfamiliar concept to anyone trying to manage a career and a life at the same time.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this balance as it pertains to being a woman and solopreneur, generally, and how it pertains to being a woman and a writer, in particular.
Now before I go any further I will hasten to point out that I admire lots and lots of male writers as well, and nothing I’m about to say is designed to indicate that only women do what I’m about to discuss. I’m just going to talk about woman because, well, I am one and I know that for me it’s a big part of what I bring to the table as a writer.
I believe that I am a good writer, in large part, because I’m an extremely emotional person. While you could certainly be very emotional and a lousy writer (maybe you’re very dramatic but feel grammar is optional…?), I’d argue that it would be difficult to be a compelling writer if you didn’t have a pretty unchecked emotional life. Writing is about evoking emotions. You have to be pretty well in touch with said emotions to provoke that sort of reaction in others. And yes, I probably tend a bit to the melodramatic side of things, which (I feel) makes my writing more compelling.
Now. What I’ve just described is an arguably “female” way of being. We tend to attribute emotional lability to women, in our culture.
Bearing all of the previous in mind…
… successful freelancers are people who can 1) conduct themselves professionally, 2) advocate for themselves even in difficult situations, and 3) manage the business side of self-employment.
It turns out that I’m pretty good at that, too, provided that I keep the “business” side and the “writing” side of things well-separated.
But I would argue that this last set of characteristics is more traditionally “male,” and that where a lot of people—and definitely a lot of women—fall short in making freelancing work is here, in the technical, businesslike minutiae required on a day-to-day basis. I know lots of gifted writers who are unable to make a living at it, and mostly it’s women who struggle with the business side of things.
On the flip side, I know plenty of freelancers (men and women both) who have found a way to make it a viable career, but their writing has… if not suffered, exactly, maybe it’s stiffened somewhat. Know what I mean? It happens.
So even though I’m buying right into these horrible male/female stereotypes in talking about this, I think it’s worth thinking about, worth discussing. It’s not just women, it’s all of us, and particularly those of us who make our living using words—how do we balance the emotional life in our writing with the business sense we need to make a living?
I’ll leave you with this video I watched this morning, because it’s related and because I love it (and her). Hrm, I’m not able to get this to embed, but you can go watch it on YouTube: This is Eve Ensler—creator of The Vagina Monologues—giving a TED talk.
(It all kind of makes me want to run around yelling, “Girl power!”)
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