No, I'm not this kind of professional juggler. I'm far too uncoordinated for that. But as I close in on three years of being a full-time freelancer after getting laid off from my magazine job in October 2011, I realize more and more that what I do is juggle. Every day is different. While the bulk of my income comes from freelance writing and book royalties, on any given day I might be listing my upcoming events on sites like Fetlife and SheWrites and Eventful (and yes, sending the updates to my webmaster is at the top of my list!). I might be mailing bookmarks to Unbound Box or She Bop, or sending books to Amazon reviewers. I might be researching where to send my books for review or updating a virtual book tour. I might be reading a market I plan to pitch, immersing myself in their language. I might be reading a book I have to review.
I should be writing, and on good days, I do. On good days, I don't berate myself for all the opportunities I didn't take advantage of, or worry about the future and how I will support more than just myself, or wonder what will happen after I turn the piece in. I just write, rather than make a note on my to do list. I know that writing is only part of it; there's so much more that goes into working for yourself full-time and to be honest, sometimes it's exhausting. It's incredibly stressful to not know if the books you've poured your time and energy into will bomb at the bookstores or take off, and to have your income rely on that. It's worth it, because I can get up at 6 a.m. and dig right in, and leave at 4:45 to go volunteer at my local community restaurant. I can take walks during the day or sit outside for a little while and so often, when I actually do those things, I come back refreshed, with new twists and turns to the pieces that have been percolating in my head. I can go into New York for a doctor's appointment and pitch from my phone. I have this incredible amount of freedom with my time, but there are days when I wish I had a boss, a real boss, not a fake one like me.
I know good things are in the air. I know that as busy and hectic as September will be, it is worth it, because I will get to meet people who care about erotica, I will get to encourage people to send their writing out into the world, I will get to visit stores and see how they display my books. I know it's an honor that those stores exist, because most bookstores don't have a dedicated erotica section, or sometimes even any erotica at all.
Right now I think the biggest requirement of my job (aka, my life) is to be hopeful. To remind myself not to give up before I start, to not freak out over the little ups and downs, to be grateful for all that I do have and know that I get the chance each day to create new stories and ideas, to know that even promoting events can be creative and fun. In the fall I will be looking into new paths, because as 40 looms (I know 40 isn't ancient, and I know it's over a year away, but in my head, it looms), I won't be able to travel like a madwoman, nor will I want to. This is the life I dreamed about for so long when I worked at jobs that paid the bills but didn't do much more, and now that I have it, I have to keep pushing myself to not just ask the hard question of What am I going to do with it? but to truly go full force and do all the creative work this time setup allows.
So for now, there is a lot of juggling, and soul searching, and always looking to the next event or story or article or interview or book. I will be taking two little trips soon, and those are also good for me, the kind of trips where I'm not tripping all over myself to spread the word, but can simply enjoy quiet and nature and family and hospitality. I forget sometimes that "freelancing" shouldn't mean working 24/7 and if it does, then I'm doing it wrong. This year is all about working smarter, figuring out where I keep falling intro traps and how to fix them. I am doing my best, and come September, will be ready to hit the road and become a professional traveler for a month, and what I'll be juggling is cramming my stuff into as few bags as possible.