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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

That Profession Everybody Wants but Nobody Understands...

A lot of time, I get emails from people.

No, not asking about writing - where I get ideas or how to develop a plot. Not those stuff. What I mean is people who are not my book readers.

Sometimes I get emails from people asking me about freelancing jobs. How to do it. Mostly in the lines of "It sounds so much fun, working from home and not needing to hear any bullshit from the boss or co-workers."

Yeah, that's the plus side. But I never recommend this kind of job to people. Not because I don't want to share it. But more or less because you're not equipped for it.

I'm not saying that I'm the freelancer extraordinaire. But I have two advantages. First, I am a novelist. It doesn't matter if I'm not a bestselling writer and the royalties aren't that great. I know for a fact, no matter how bad it goes, at least there will be (at least RM150) in the bank account every three months. At least. Does that help me with any bills? No. But anything is better than 0, right? Secondly, I don't spend. I seldom go out. I have no usual fetishes with shoes or clothes or handbags. Yes, I do have to chalk out money for all the bills, give my parents some and at times pay for the family car, but I don't have additional needs. Yes, I only have two pair of shoes. That is because I don't have to go out and also because I find buying shoes a waste of my time. Whether I have money or not, shoes are a waste to me - the time spent looking for one that gives you comfort, the perfect size and the perfect price. I would love it if everybody walks barefooted. The world would be much more beautiful, then.

But I don't encourage everybody to do what I do. Why?

a) It's not a certainty

Well yeah, you argue that even permanent jobs are not a certainty. But you know every month you will be paid the same amount. I have to live a life not knowing whether this month I will get RM3K or no K at all. I can't spend in any way that I like because I'm not sure whether next month they will tell me that they don't need a freelancer anymore. If a company is thinking about cutting cost, who do you think are going to be the first ones to go? Us freelancers, man.

b) Every day is a holiday. Yes. BUT, every day is also working day

A normal human being should have that separation of work and play. They go to an office, they work. They return home, they forget about work and they rest. They take holidays and use it without any worries, knowing that they earned it. Freelancers work where they live. The sofa is my home, my office, my work chair and my bed. I can't tell you how long since I slept in my room, on my bed with a proper pillow. Every single day, the couch becomes my everything. I am an official couch potato, but not in the usual sense of the word. Holiday is the day when there is no work at all for me to do, which means holiday is the day without money. While people relaxes on holiday, work is looming at the back of my head.

c) You can't help but becoming a workaholic

Because work means money. And since I am living in the wealthy country called Malaysia where you have to pay more than a hundred for a good WIFI reception and the cheapest paling cikai local car price is equivalent to my parent's double-storey terrace house price in the 80s (yes, our old house is only around RM30k), you think nothing else but how to get more money. Not for the additional things (I bought a second hand NOKIA phone and have only two pairs of shoes. I am thrifty at best), but for the basic necessities. I went to GIANT recently to buy the basic food source for a week and all of it cost me RM259. To save cost, we all live under one roof, but living together in a house caused the electricity bill (bless you, gracious TNB =_=) of RM500 above per month. And don't let me start on the other things: water bills, ASTRO, internet, bil pembentung - nak berak kat rumah sendiri pun kena bayar, cukai pintu, cukai pendapatan, car insurance, petrol, road tax, car service. Hey, and I am still single. It's not a life for a freelancer.

d) You think you will travel the world and do things because you're not tied to an office, but you will end up getting more and more antisocial

Freelance work is not office work. That you have to understand. It doesn't come when you want it to come. It doesn't start at 9am and ends at 6pm. Sometimes it comes at 3am and will not end until 5pm the next day. You're not paid by the month, you're paid by your work. It means that whether you want to or not, you have to do it. Your time management is all over the place and you will never be free when others are. You can't go to your friend's birthday party because of work. You can't go to the camping trip because work came in the last hour. You have to cancel your gym schedule because you have to finish something by 7pm. You think you can bring your work to play, but then you realised that nobody can work while others play, so you end up telling friends you can't do it and they think you're making up excuses just so you don't have to be in a social event. At first, that was your reason, but as time goes by, it became your excuse because you no longer understand how the society works. Your time frame and theirs gets more different every single day.

e) Marriage becomes the last thing on your mind

Because there are so many things to do and you don't have time to be introduced, to know someone and go out with them, to think whether he's a good catch or not, to even take time to realise whether your heart is lonely or not or if you even have a heart at all.  

Build a business, work in an office, do anything you want. But for your sake and mine, don't make my profession your ambition.


mia kaftiya said...

kite faham dunia akak sebab kita pun sedang mengalaminya. walaupun rasa mcm susahnya hidup macm ni, tapi tetap pilih nak jalan ini. Tak mahu terikat dgn bos, office, etc, etc.

tapi insyaallah cuma sementara sebab tak sanggup nak catu duit setiap kali nak beli barang! ;D

Shai Kamarudin said...

demi tak nak dgr bebelan bos dan politik opis, maka ahruslah hidup gelandangan. aha

nad said...

apart from the marriage thingy and the pay job now is so very much like a freelance :p