Whenever I tell people what I do for a living, folks get this slightly glassy-eyed look and their mouths fall open – not because they are in awe that someone can sit in a chair for 110,000 words and construct a world or make and ruin lives, but because I get to work from home. This is the Holy Grail of employment options apparently, and while I respect that it’s a perk, it is not the be-all end-all everyone seems to think it is. In fact, there are days I wish I had an office somewhere so I could work without the trappings that come with operating out of home base.
1) Everyone — and I do mean everyone — assumes you make your own hours and because you make your own hours, you can rearrange everything however you want and do as many things as you want and the work still mystically gets completed behind the scenes. This means when folks need a ride somewhere or an errand or a favor, you are their personal go-to. Now, they’re grateful for your assistance and that’s keen, but when too many people assume a freedom that isn’t there, that means you get inundated with requests for your time. Each of those requests is less butt-in-chair time, and any writer will tell you the key to success and productivity is butt-in-chair time. So you get around to saying no, which in itself shouldn’t be a problem, but-
2) When you say you can’t help someone because you have to work, there’s acceptance but also that disappointment that you didn’t rearrange your Home Worky Cosmos for them. And listen – it’s not that you don’t love your friends/family, it’s just that they’re the fifth person to want a twelfth thing from you between Monday and Friday and you can only stretch yourself so thin. Surely they must understand.
3) And most of the time they do. But then there’s those times they don’t. Those times are stupid.
4) There’s also the distraction problem. Our homes are our sanctuaries, our happy fun places to store everything we’ve worked hard for. Video games. Televisions. Computers. Distractions lie around every corner. No, sometimes literally, because-
5) Pet and kids? Don’t get that you’re not home to see to their needs. So they’ll eat electrical cords or lick light sockets or fall on their heads and expect saving. And you do save them because HOLY SHIT VET BILLS ARE EXPENSIVE but that’s more time to not get to that last chapter and you promised your agent a book and you haven’t taken a shower yet and you’re wearing the same ugly old sweatpants from yesterday.
6) Because you don’t actually have to get dressed when you work from home. You do simply so you don’t traumatize the mailman, but putting off things like jeans and bras? Totes fine, except when the UPS man shows up and you look like Hobo Joe and he’s wondering why that bird is nesting in your hair, which you didn’t notice until he stared at it and you realized you have Radagast face (see The Hobbit, you’ll get it) and . . . well, screw it.
7) After the UPS man leaves, you laugh in a creepy way. When you work out of your house, you don’t socialize much and you get weird. Without society’s judgmental embrace, you twitch and do things like armpit sniff tests to determine if you NEED that shower or if it can wait a few more hours while you finish editing. There’s also that thing about you talking to the inanimate objects like you’re Belle in the Beast’s castle, but thanks to the scrubby clothes and the odor and lack of shaving, you are definitely MORE Beast than Belle.
So. Yes. Working from home. A perk when I need to go to the doctor or the bank. Sort of a bane when it comes to productivity, personal hygiene, fashion, and . . . everything else. It’s cool, dudes. I get it. Envy away that I am the mistress of my own castle, but when you get to the window-licking TRAPPED IN MY OWN HOUSE WITH NO CLEAN LAUNDRY AND I’M WEARING A GLAD BAG AS A DRESS portion of the day, it ain’t so pretty anymore.
Not pretty t’all.