I spent half-term working six days on the features desk of a national newspaper. It was great. Not only did it boost the coffers in a way that my eight-hours a week teaching job doesn’t but also, after a difficult first six weeks of proper teaching, it gave me a break. Strange that working long hours with a busy commute is a break but they do say a change is as good as a rest and I agree.
I’m almost 20 years into my working life and due to the pension crisis, I probably have around another 30 to go. There’s a good chance I’ll be working until I die which is why I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing the same job every single day and moaning about it.
Easier said than done, I know. I spent more than a decade in my last job (I did move around internally but I went to the same office at the same time every single day). It gets boring. It’s a drain. I felt life was passing me by. Social events with colleagues would descend into a night of work moans. It was dispiriting and depressing but still I didn’t do anything about it. I was far too institutionalised to realise I was employable elsewhere. I wasn’t CV-ready and I couldn’t remember how to apply for jobs.
I left because I wanted to do something different. I didn’t turn my back on journalism. I just wanted to add teaching to my portfolio.
Now my routine is well, less routine. I teach one afternoon and two evenings a week. I do Sunday shifts at a newspaper. I freelance from home as and when. I can spend Saturday evening writing and Monday afternoon having lunch with friends. I’ve been known to break up the day with a nap. I enjoy a mid-day run.
Of course, there are cons too. My income is insecure and I’m at the mercy of editors and ever-decreasing budgets. A lot of editors ignore me (two newspapers in particular are terrible at getting back to me; one never has and no they’re probably not the newspapers you’re thinking of). There’s no safety net if I get ill and can’t work. I daren’t book a holiday until I’ve built up a contingency fund and if/when I do, I won’t go away for more than a week.
Still, I look on Twitter and see Monday morning groans and lots of ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ rants. I’m glad it’s not me posting those. Right now, this dual-professional freelance life gives me the best of both worlds.