In May I had almost no work at all, which scared me because May is usually a pretty busy month. Freelance means you set aside some money when you get some money and you enjoy some time when you have some time and you try to hustle reasonably in busy times and you also try not to panic unnecessarily in slow times so even though I experienced some concern in May I mostly enjoyed the fine weather and the free time and waited it out. Summer's always slow; things predictably picked up a bit in September, but I still hadn't come close to making up for May.
AND THEN: November and December were absolutely crazy. Every academic in Brno wanted to publish something, the air was thick with the smell of grant money to be spent before the end of the year. January promises more of the same, and I finally took time out to look at finances and raise my prices, which I haven't done in ages. I know this is a very interesting story that I am telling you. Stay with me; it gets a little better.
I am thinking about this, about feast and famine, about the flow of things, and about boundaries. What happens with my work is in many ways the same as what happens in my life and I have to remember to keep my eyes and hands and heart open and take it all in and let it all pass. Just like the absence of work in May, there are times in my life when I am scared, when I feel lonely and like what I have is not enough, that I need more hobbies and more interests and more life in my life, but if I can remember to look at what I actually have and assess whether changes need to be made, most of the time the only change needed is the passage of time, into another month and then things are different. And there are times with work and with life when I feel almost overwhelmed, like a hamster running on a wheel, but then I have to remember that I can stop that wheel whenever I want, and that in fact I do kind of love it, running like that, too much to do, 20 pages a day every day, weekends too, and no time to sit around dithering about angels dancing on the heads of pins or practicing ukulele or exercising or anything other than work and basic social maintenance. Not forever, but for a month or two (or three, if I must) it's okay.
And raising my prices, it's so scary in a way because: what if I lose clients? But asking isn't hard, and in this case it's just a yes or a no. And if the answer is no and I don't especially like the client, then it doesn't matter. And if the answer is yes, then I can start enjoying months like May with even greater pleasure. Similarly with life I am asking a lot of my friends right now, for their patience and kindness during this period of self-absorption and overwork, and I'm blessed to have friends who do understand that there will be a sunny day somewhere in the future; a beer garden and the pure pleasure of laughing the sun down, maybe even waiting for the fireflies, because we will have earned that. And the yoga and the ukulele can wait, too.