09 May

Today I’m celebrating 10 years of being a freelancer

Ten years, man! Ten years! I’ve been freelancer/writer/whatever for 10 years now, sailing my own ship:

Ten years ago I had just published my very first novel. It had been out a few months. But I never got to enjoy or dwell on my first novel experience because I learned just a couple days before my book was to launch that I was going to be out of a job by the end of summer.

I spent that February, March and April:

-finishing the manuscript of my second novel, Ragamuffin, in a panic. I didn’t know if I would be working a McDonald’s or what later in the year. I wanted to have written two novels, so that no matter what mess came next I would have at least done that.

-looking for a new day job. Turned out there were no tech jobs within a decent commute at the time. I was underwater on my mortgage in a house I’d just moved into and had to stretch to afford.

-working freelance gigs that appeared as I announced my availability and impending job loss. I still remember that my boss read my blog post announcing that I was being laid off and ‘encouraged’ me to take it down and I was like ‘I don’t even understand what you mean’ because my focus was on letting the world know I needed to start something new.

By May it had become clear that I had enough lined up that I could take the leap into just working as a freelancer and author.

Ten years. Wow.

There have been a lot of ups and downs. I became a New York Times bestseller thanks to the Halo novel. I went on to write book 3 of what became the Xenowealth series. Agreed to put #4 and #5 on hold after the Halo book and wrote Arctic Rising and Hurricane Fever. The freelance gigs have shifted and churned around a bit in the background. I’ve had some banner years in terms of fiction earnings, but not enough I would stop freelancing.

My wife, Emily, has joined me to help out with the freelancing. So the business has grown. We haven’t killed each other yet being home all the time.

I almost died just a few years into freelancing. Found out I had a heart defect. Spent years recovering and learning how to manage a whole new life.

Had twins. Still trying to figure out this dad thing. Very much a learn as you go.

I have published 9 novels in that 10 years, 2 under a pseudonym. There are two more written as of yet unsold as well. I’ve also done 4 collections, 5 novellas, and sold 36 short stories.

My income streams shift and change, but overall everything is growing.

I’m looking out over the next ten and thinking very hard about how I want it to look. I’m in the middle of a great deal of change right now. But… if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 10 years of being a freelancer you have to be comfortable with a great deal of variability.

Does it ever become normal?

I wouldn’t want it to.

What’s next on the horizon?

I’m hoping to nail all that down here soon. You’ll know as soon as I do.

09 May

8th Year Freelanciversary

Today I celebrate walking out of a 9-5 and never looking back 8 years ago. It’s my 8th Year Freelanciversary!

I’ve spent more years as a freelancer (8) than I did at a regular day job (6). Ever since I matched the same number of years freelancing as I did having a 9-5 (and got a tattoo to match at the same point), I’ve started to internalize it. For a long time it used to feel like I was getting away with something, or that it was too good to be true and continue.

Freelancing still involves having to keep an eye out for the wolf at the door, and getting hit with almost dying back in 2008 (and debt for not being able to work and medical bills) really put a dent in it, but as I start being able to put that behind and really work forward, I have to say I’m really looking forward to the next few years of being a freelancer.

It’s been hard work. But it’s been hard work I choose and hard work on my schedule. And it turns out I really thrive on that.

My thanks to everyone out there who buys my books or hires my services.

I know it’s been quiet on the blog. I’ve been working hard, the blog suffers as a result.

09 May

Today I celebrate my 7th year Freelanceiversary!

Today I celebrate 7 years being a freelancer and fiction writer.

I’ve now not had a formal 8-5 job longer than I’ve had one. I’m firmly on the other side, and it seems like a distant and odd dream.

Last year I got a tattoo to celebrate. This year I’m going to go out for dinner and pick out some plants for the garden. Then pack, because tomorrow I’ll be in California where someone is paying to fly me out and hang out with Kim Stanley Robinson and talk about my novel Arctic Rising.

I’m so. Fucking. Lucky.

What I’ve done has changed from year to year, some years it’s more fiction than freelance jobs, others it’s the other way around.

On May 9th, 2006, I walked away from my day job with a whole quarter left on my contract after I was told it wouldn’t be renewed. I was scared, yet hopeful. I worked like a dog for a year and a half, until I could slow it down and leverage up to better paying gigs based on my contacts and experience. By 2008, I had a nice balance of freelance gigs and fiction that gave me freedom and money, debt was close to being paid off, and I was looking forward to rebalancing until I had a health hiccup.

Recovering my cadence and energy due to health issues that hit in late ’08 and ’09 was tough, but as the 7th year begins I feel I’m getting some savings, paying off debt once again, and positioning myself for a banner 2014 by working really hard here in 2013. Getting back to doing a lot of writing is happening through a combination of hard work this year (flirting with exhausting, but learning more about how not to go over that cliff) and prepping for next.

So thank you to anyone who has commissioned me for work, flown me out to speak, or purchased my fiction in any of the various venues.

When I walked away that last day, I dared dream of a life that was just like this. It isn’t perfect (there are variables about freelancing that can take you down), but man, it really suits me more than anything else I’ve ever done. Or could imagine doing.

29 Mar

A large chunk of America will be freelancers by 2020

Another way in which the baby-boomers are not getting our world ready for the upcoming demographic changes:

“The debate over telecommuting that Yahoo has spurred raises an important issue, but it’s not simply about workplace flexibility or telecommuting, but rather the fundamental nature of work itself. By 2020, more than 40% of the US workforce will be so-called contingent workers, according to a study conducted by software company Intuit in 2010. That’s more than 60 million people.

We are quickly becoming a nation of permanent freelancers and temps. In 2006, the last time the federal government counted, the number of independent and contingent workers—contractors, temps, and the self-employed—stood at 42.6 million, or about 30% of the workforce. How many are there today? We have no idea since 2006 was the last year that the government bothered to count this huge and growing sector of the American workforce.”

(Via 40% of America’s workforce will be freelancers by 2020 – Quartz.)