I write comedy, stories for the telly and I'm working on a Radio 4 commission whilst developing my own television series. For most of these things, I do not get paid, which makes me
unemployed a freelance writer.
A year ago, I was working as lead copywriter for a very prosperous digital marketing agency and at the time, the company announced expansions to New York and that sounded incredible, so I bought into the idea and thought aye, that'll do and so I'd prepared myself for a move Stateside. Two months later, I lost my £30k job and deeply regretted spending most of my wages from my 1.5 years there on going out to dinner five nights a week and buying too many APC jackets (I'm a fanny).
My departure from that company was amicable (the fuckers (but really, it was amicable)) as there wasn't enough work coming in on a regular basis for me and they decided to outsource all of their copy, rather than employ an in-house twerp, having to pay him more money than a teacher's starting salary (take that my mum, who shouted at me for doing a degree in THEATRE instead of studying to be a teacher, oh wait I'm
unempl... A FREELANCER).
Anyway, that was September 2012. It's 10 months on and I'm still
unemployed freelancing; don't tell anyone, but I'm starting to go a bit mad. It's been a good almost-year in many ways, as I've had a lot of time to work on my own TV projects - so lots of pitching has taken place in these past months, but with lots of pitching comes lots of knockbacks. Queuing up to sign on the dole every time your freelance gigs dry up, is somewhat, depressing enough without having your arse handed back to you by various commissioners with notes like 'too hairy', 'bit of cellulite there' and 'we were looking for something a little more like this other arse wots on Channel 4 just now'.
That's really quite hard, especially when you've worked so hard on the arse you have (let's be clear at this point, I'm still using an 'arse as script' analogy. Anal-ogy. Hahaha), so sometimes - as a freelancer, who isn't getting much paid work and is working his arse off (I actually mean 'my arse' this time) everything gets a bit much sometimes and there are days or more extended periods where I enter this crazy funk. These periods of bleak overcast, see me doing pointless things like binge-watching shite telly, under the covers until my aluminium laptop has overheated so much that it leaves a heat scar on the peak of my rotund, hairy gut (that's where we all perch our laptops, right? Up THERE?).
Sometimes I actually get out of bed and drink coffee because coffee makes me very excited and awake and I think I'm invincible for all but forty minutes before I crash and go back to lying in bed and twitching whilst staring at episodes of Storage Hunters on YouTube along with any television show that shows police chasing baddies in cars, which makes me feel slightly better about myself because I'm certainly in a better position than the baddies the police are chasing in cars, RIGHT?
What's really annoying now, after all this time is that I tend not to be able to do much work until I've watched at least six episodes of some shite television show on Netflix, cleaned my one-bedroom Govan flat from top to bottom and spent at least an hour on the toilet playing Dots on my fucking iPhone.
I'm a mess. I've found out the hard way that being
unemployed a freelancer is quite difficult. Not to mention, I'm doing this all on my own, alone, in my flat, day after day after day. Weekends aren't weekends anymore. And weekdays, well they're all a blur of box-sets of The West Wing to me. 'Sorry, I can't go out to coffee - I've got no money and besides, I'm re-watching Two Cathedrals that day for the fortieth fucking time since I lost my job.'
It's not all a blur though. Sometimes I alight the crazy train for a refreshing cycle on my fixie-bike (if you weren't sure if I was some sort of hipster cunt at a)APC jackets or b)aluminum laptop, now you know) - which is arguably the best therapy that I can afford at this present moment in time (Netflix is expensive (it's not)).
Of course, I am exaggerating for comic effect - things haven't been nearly as bad or bleak as I've made them out to be. I've worked on a number of very interesting projects with a bunch of very interesting people but the problem with freelancing is a lack of routine.
Some might argue that my 'six episodes of some shite television show on Netflix, cleaning and Dots playing ablutions' is a routine - they would be right, but I'm talking about a real routine. Like getting up really early and going into work in the morning and having something of a social life around your working day. I miss that.
unemployed a freelancer isn't all that much fun. Especially when you're thrown into it without a plan and then playing catch-up for several months, trying to steady your feet.
So, don't do it.
At least not without a plan, anyway. And if you are going to do it, do one thing and stick to it. I'm a total fuck up, because whilst I'm very good at copywriting and that's what I'm majorly working at - I'm also writing for the telly and trying to get more writing gigs for that particular medium, so my energy is very much divided in that sense, so choose one thing and stick with it because splitting your headspace between two fairly similar but equally very different things is very fucking draining to say the least.
Tell me some of your
unemployment freelancing woes in the comment box below. Or better yet, your joys - because there are bound to be some joys, right? Eventually? Right?
Could I borrow £30 this week for food...
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Follow Philip Larkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/philiplarkin