The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

My coronacoaster II: underemployed and restless

Back at the end of May, I wrote about coming to the end of a stretch of work and not having anything more lined up as publishers froze projects and pulled work in-house. Since then, things have been kind of mixed.

Ups: On the plus side, I seem to have a number of projects lined up for the autumn. If everything comes off (which admittedly is far from guaranteed!) I should have a fairly steady stream of work from the end of Sept through into next spring. There’s a nice mix of projects; some corpus research and some writing, some vocab-focused materials and some more general English. It’s a relief to know there’s work coming up, although I’ll be happier when I get some more definite confirmations, schedules and contracts in place. As ever with freelancing, a lot of initial offers are tentative and it can seem to take an age before they’re confirmed, leaving you in an awkward planning limbo.

Downs: On the downside, it’s been a very quiet summer. Since the end of May, I had a few odd hours in July and August on one on-going project. Which was good – and a nice project to work on – but only added up to something like 25% of my usual working hours through June-Aug. That project’s had a (planned) pause since the middle of August and was due to start up again last week, but has now been delayed.

Restlessness: Like most freelancers, I’m not good at being underemployed. I can cope with the odd quiet patch if I know I’ve got something coming up, but especially with not much else to do at the moment (because Covid), I soon get restless and grouchy. Thankfully, the UK’s had a surprisingly good summer this year which has made things a bit easier. When the weather’s warm and sunny, it’s easier to potter in and out of the garden, go for nice long walks and as things have eased up, meet friends for socially-distanced, outdoor coffees. Last week was tough though. First, I had the let-down of expecting work to restart then finding out it wasn’t. Plus the weather was rubbish – grey and rainy and positively autumnal. I’m generally pretty good at keeping myself occupied, but after more than 6 months at home, I admit to getting distinctly bored. I’ve done plenty of walking, but as I don’t have a car, I’m tied to only walking from home and having done the same routes a thousand times, I’m really starting to crave a change of scene now.

Time for a break: Thankfully, this week, the sun’s back out and on Friday, we’re heading off for a week away – woo hoo! - our first holiday for a year and my first night away from home since February. We’re not going very far, just a week in a holiday cottage on the Isle of Wight, but it’s right by the sea and I’m sooo looking forward to just being somewhere different.

So I just have a handful of days to get through feeling restless, unsure whether there’ll be any work this week or not, and not 100% confident that the projects I have pencilled in for when I get back will pan out as I’m hoping. It feels a bit odd to be taking a holiday after doing so little work over the past few months, but boy, am I ready for it and the chance to properly switch off.

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