Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nice Work... If You Can Get It

I could wax rhapsodic here about the Cole Porter tune, as it has become a jazz standard, and go on to compare it to that writing trope about how all stories are just variations on a half dozen basic stories or so.... but I've done that post already. Besides, although I was listening the Thelonious Monk run through it on the piano the other day, and even though it is one of my favorite jazz standards... I'm not really musician enough to comment on the perils and pitfalls of playing something that's arguably been done to death already.

So instead I am just going to rant. It's my blog, I'm entitled.

There are a number of advantages to being a freelance writer, even one of my limited caliber, in this day and age, starting with the ability to send in both work and queries without keeping the Post Office or Fed Ex in business. Responses can be immediate, both to queries and to actual articles, giving me the ability to quickly modify my submissions if for some reason I haven't quite nailed the assignment as it was given. Likewise I can get paid faster (thank you, PayPal) and don't have to fuss with sending everyone my tax and account information.

Of course, that also means that most employers aren't taking taxes out. This isn't that big of an obstacle, as even without internet based pay, a number of the people I have freelanced for have not taken taxes out anyway. I don't see why not, as I can't imagine it's easier for me to do it than it is for some publishing vendor who probably has an accountant on staff... but so it goes.

No, the real obstacle is the lack of an office I can stomp down the hall to and complain. Don't get me wrong, I like working from home and if it were slightly more profitable I'd make it a full-time occupation. But when the company you're freelancing for is located more than an hour or two drive from you, you lose the option of being able to approach an actual human being with your complaint. This has drawbacks. Chief among them are the ability to hang out in the office of said human being until your problem gets solved.

Instead, I have to send something off to an anonymous help desk. Where they may or may not get back to me in a timely fashion. And where they may or may not understand the problem as I have first explained it to them. And where they may or may not be inclined to fix it. More often than not, they don't. Then I lose time, patience, and possibly an assignment because some tech guru off in California didn't bother to sort through his queue fast enough.

When the day comes that video conferencing is standard, and everyone can do it, the first thing I hope it allows me to do is to virtually park myself in the virtual doorway of someone's virtual office, until they deal with my problem. Because I can be persistent and stubborn that way, in ways in which sending off an email to some anonymous help desk just doesn't satisfy.

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