"Writers are sexy. No argument. Some people think this about heroin addicts, too."
September 16, 2010 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Nitsuh Abebe dissects a rather twee post on why it's great to date a writer. Bonus writer links: Why you should just punch yourself in the face instead of becoming a freelancer, and why it's good despite all the face punching.
posted by Artw (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I freelance.
And I still punch myself in the face.

Hate freelancing.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:35 AM on September 16, 2010

I freelanced for a couple of years, and it was fun interesting for a while...but I sure as hell don't miss the days of trying to plan my finances around cheques I hadn't received yet and checking my mailbox five times a day. The "why it's good" article does a better job of explaining why other jobs suck (and they certainly do) than it does of making a genuine case for freelancing. All jobs suck, just in different ways.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:13 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've been working as a freelancer since the last century, with only one brief period around the turn of the century where I was an employee, and I'm very reluctant to give it up for 5 days a week at an office. This is surprising to me, as I never thought I was the freelancing type, but I think the die was cast for me years ago when I accepted a tenure-track university library job. The building was dark, cramped, and low-ceilinged and my supervisor seemed humourless and rigid. As I walked out into the sun, I thought "What the hell am I doing to myself?", and went back and rescinded my acceptance. I started contract work the next day.

I can't see deer gamboling from my office window because a) I'm on the second floor, and those would have to be seriously turbo-charged deer to make it into my line of sight and b) this is Toronto, so the most likely wildlife I'll see at any point is a raccoon the size of a bar fridge sprawled out on the roof of my garage.

But I still really like punching myself in the face for a living. Yeah, the scant times get pretty scary. I actually had to dip into my emergency fund last winter when I got about 8 days of billable hours across January and February, which is why I'm AskMe's biggest nag about EMERGENCY FUND! EMERGENCY FUND! EMERGENCY FUND! But when times are good, they're pretty damn good, and I'm free to go out in midday, when there's actual daylight, and enjoy the world during the forbidden hours. Plus, there's something ridiculously luxurious about occasionally turning down actual work, including offers of full time jobs.
posted by maudlin at 12:33 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

As responses to the OP go, I prefer Garland Grey's "DON'T FUCKING DO IT."
posted by harperpitt at 1:41 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Dating freelancers is fine. If they can make a living at it, they've gotta be smart, motivated, flexible -- and probably hot as well.

Being a freelancer is often the only way reprobates can make a living. Employing us is just too goddamn risky. You need a bit of plausible deniability, and you can get that from using a freelancer. But it's tough as hell. You've got to keep coming up with great ideas. Ideas that blow the ideas of the staffers out of the water. And you've got to do it day in, day out, week in, week out, year in, year out. As they say about gambling, 'It's a hard way to make an easy living.'

Two thumbs up for dating them though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:18 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

A rather what sort-of post?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:25 PM on September 16, 2010

As responses to the OP go, I prefer Garland Grey's "DON'T FUCKING DO IT."

Wow. I am a writer, and that is pretty spot-on. I'm even in a long-term relationship with someone I love, but... that is still pretty spot-on.
posted by gilrain at 2:26 PM on September 16, 2010

A rather what sort-of post?

Twee. Is this one of those things where they don;t have a word/it's used differently in America?
posted by Artw at 2:31 PM on September 16, 2010

Is this one of those things where they don't have a word

In the US it's spelled 'McSweeneyesque'.
posted by everichon at 3:06 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

A rather what sort-of post?

It's short for 'tweed'.

In my head, anyway.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 4:49 PM on September 16, 2010

If there's one thing writers are good at, it's self-loathing. *thumbs up*

Shit, I may even favorite this post.
posted by Eideteker at 6:29 PM on September 16, 2010

What a bunch of romantic clap-trap - on both sides. Imagine someone putting together something like that about carpenters, or risk management consultants, or airline stewards.

Writers are - gasp - just people, like any other people. Some of them are arseholes, some of them are lovely. Some of them - it's just a job. They try not to take it home with them; they have other things in their lives going on; their profession isn't the lynchpin of their existence: how they make a pasta sauce isn't different to how the carpenter does it, or writerly, or based on a bunch of ridiculous cliches that come from either a Robin Williams drama film or some kind of Douglas Coupland cynical-but-secretly-I-really-am-that-special gen-x wet-dream.

Uh. I blame the shit work conditions of most freelancing. The pay etc is typically so bad you have to romanticise it because that's one of the most significant job perks. Coupled with a plethora of popular media generated by the same writers romanticising their work and a public that laps it up like Kool-aid, you get stuff like this.

Being a writer doesn't make you a special kind of person, like some kind of rare breed of dog that only eats certain foods and likes to be groomed a certain way. Thinking like that does a gross disservice to writers and non-writers alike. Being a person makes you a special kind of person. Leave it at that.
posted by smoke at 6:52 PM on September 16, 2010

I freelanced from about 1987 to 2002. When I got a steady job, I couldn't believe how great it was that money just kept showing up in my bank account every two weeks.

Now I'm freelancing again.
posted by msalt at 8:15 PM on September 16, 2010

My wife dated a writer once.
posted by jscalzi at 8:41 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

How'd that work out for her?
posted by Aizkolari at 3:37 AM on September 17, 2010

He bit her.
posted by Splunge at 4:24 AM on September 17, 2010

Would it be a derail to mention that he's a (quite measured and thoughtful) writer for Pitchfork? Or that his posts as Nabisco are one of the only things that make vipers nest of critics board I Love Music tolerable?
posted by kersplunk at 6:25 AM on September 17, 2010

posted by ErikaB at 11:11 AM on September 17, 2010

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