You Never Knew The Way To Say No

The freelancer’s dilemma is the one where you say find yourself wondering whether to yes to work that you know you don’t have time for, because you either are afraid of not having enough work in the future or, simply, you need the money too much to say no.  (There’s a variation in which someone offers you something so exciting that you can’t resist, but trust me; that’s far more rare.)

In short, this has been my past couple of weeks. Or, rather, the consequences of my having said yes have been.

I have my excuses, of course; in my head, I argue that I actually said yes to the big job that dominated my brain and schedule because it was an outlet I haven’t been doing a lot of work with recently and wanted a better relationship with, but I also can’t deny that the outrageous money being offered helped a lot, too. The end of February brought about a significant financial crunch that I wasn’t expecting, and that left deep scars; if I said yes to this project that sounded unexciting but not entirely uninteresting, I thought to myself, then perhaps I wouldn’t be in that shape again this month.

(I wouldn’t be in that shape again anyway; February was a collection of other people’s mistakes, moneywise, all of which impacted me. The odds of that happening again were, to be polite, absolutely fucking astronomical. But, as I said, it left scars.)

The thing is, even as I said yes, I knew it was not smart. My schedule was already full, and I had already been telling people that I was feeling overworked. Adding more was in every respect except for money and my relationship with this outlet, a bad idea. And yet.

The fates decided to teach me a lesson; research and interviews for the piece took longer than expected, got rescheduled at the last minute. (Literally the last two minutes: I got an email at 1:58 asking to postpone a 2pm call at one point.) Other pieces of work I already owed popped up that needed attention unexpectedly. The whole process was just harder than it should have been, to an almost comic degree.

i finished it, anyway, and handed it in yesterday afternoon as I write this. My brain was doing the thing where it feels like it’s running too fast and off the rails, and I felt both exhausted and slightly crazy. And, as soon as I sent it off, I wondered, “Can I do one of these every month? The money was crazily good…”

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