When I tell people that I’m busy, I really do mean it. I’m not lying, or avvin a larf, or making it up. I really, really am busy. We were talking about this at the weekend – while we were out running errands. Yes, even on the weekend, our “time off”, we were busy. We’re always busy.
I don’t just work for myself. I work for others. I help other writers achieve their dreams of seeing their work in print. I work to deadlines, often very tight deadlines. And if I take even a half hour off to do something else, I still have those deadlines to meet. If I miss a deadline, it means another person’s deadline is also missed.
There are other people who are waiting for me to finish my work as well – the proofreaders, production managers, designers, marketing departments, the publicity guys. It’s a domino effect. If I miss my deadline, then they all miss theirs too.
And we all get paid on completion. So if I miss a deadline, I’m not just holding up production. I’m holding up other people’s wages. And I’m delaying sales and revenue.
And when I’m editing something, I need to concentrate. I need to remember what’s gone before or what I’ve changed before for consistency. If my concentration is interrupted, I’m knocked off kilter until I can get back in the zone. And that takes time too. Time out of my already busy – and tight – schedule.
I also have my own work to do. I also write.
On a personal note, we keep chickens. We have two cats and a dog. They all need attention.
We live in an area where foxes and other predators are common. So the chickens have to be locked up at night, for their own safety, and they have to be let out again in the morning. We didn’t rescue the chickens from one cage just to lock them up in another.
The dog can’t be left alone for hours and hours on end – I really don’t understand why people get a dog and then leave it locked up or locked out for days, I really don’t understand why they get dogs and then go out without them. What’s the point?
The cats need to be fed, which can be automated, but in the heat we’ve been having they’d’ve been eating mouldy food.
And all of our pets love social interaction with people. They’re all social creatures.
Yes, we chose this responsibility, just like those who choose to have children. But it’s still a responsibility we have. If one of us is away, for whatever reason, then the other needs to be here to look after the animals. We don’t even go away ourselves any more, until and unless we’ve arranged house/pet-sitters. And if they let us down and we can’t get anyone else at short notice, we cancel our holiday. And lose whatever money we’ve already paid out.
It amazes me that even in this day of lots of people now working from home, other people still make assumptions that you’re sat there on your backside all day, doing nothing, waiting for their call, so you can jump when they do ring or text or email. I don’t even have my phone on when I’m working now because of the distractions and interruptions people assume they can keep making at will.
If I was working at a hospital or in a call centre or stacking shelves in a supermarket, I would not be able to answer my personal mobile phone. I would not be able to just nip out to the post office or the bank or the animal feed store. I would not be able to take a day off on a whim.
I have work scheduled in for weeks and weeks and weeks ahead, which is brilliant. So does the poet. He has to work away at least once a week. Sometimes he’s away for a few days and I’m here on my own.
His band plays at least once a month and they rehearse every week if they can, or at least once a fortnight. When his band is playing, we’re not out having time off. We’re working. We’re representing the band and we’re also representing the gig list. It’s great when our friends manage to come along too, but we’re still working.
We keep the weekends free for family and domestic stuff. We both have families. My family is 100 and 5,000 miles away. The poet’s family is “down the road” now, but there are still more than just one of them. We have household and domestic crises to attend to, we have emergencies, but we also still have all the other stuff to do as well.
All we had booked in this weekend just gone was a Monkey Dust gig Saturday night. Yet we were out all day Saturday, running errands. And we were out for most of Sunday too. The fridge/freezer packed up so we had to go out and buy a new one. We need a working fridge in this weather, not to mention the cost of spoiled food.
Tomorrow, I have to wait in all day for the new fridge/freezer to be delivered. I have to empty the old fridge/freezer and get it in a position where they can take it away with them. When the new one comes, we have to unpackage it, install it and leave it to stand. Then I’ll have to fill it up again, throw away any food that’s gone off, and maybe go out and buy some more.
I also have work to do tomorrow.
The poet is also away tomorrow, working. He’ll be back Wednesday night.
On Wednesday I have an appointment in the middle of the day.
I also have work to do on Wednesday.
In between errands and gigs and dodging showers at the weekend, we had to rebuild a shed. And we had to clean out and do more work to the chicken run. For the first time in ages we had time for a proper tea before the gig on Saturday … but Sunday dinner was a roast pork sandwich because we didn’t have time to have a proper Sunday dinner.
People who go out to work every day have the exact same responsibilities, the exact same duties, the exact same time constraints. But no one expects them to be at their beck and call for the entire time they’re at work. No one expects them to drop everything and do something NOW. Because they’re at work.
Well, so am I.