Whew. Finally, papers and pens and people met at the same time and the same place to reach an agreement about a fun and new project. Add writing for TV to my list of skills, talents, and experiences. As of this afternoon I get to work (part-time and temporary) on a documentary series for the island’s local TV studio, WhidbeyTV. To those who’ve listened to my story through such tough times, I’m glad I get to share yet another piece of good news. All things remaining equal, I’ll finally go from making enough to pay my bills except for my taxes, to being about to pay my taxes and make quicker progress on reducing my debt. Artistically, this is fun. Financially, this is a great relief. And, getting to learn a lot more about my neighborhood, my community, its history, and the people is marvelous. Good news comes from unexpected directions, and this isn’t the only opportunity. (There were more than one possibilities alluded to in that previous post.)
Unexpected opportunities for one friend created an unexpected opportunity for me. I’m not the first writer for this project. A friend had that honor, but had to bow out because another lucrative project demanded more time. One of the consequences of the Gig Economy is that each gig is dynamic, growing or shrinking, speeding up or slowing down as demand and resources shift. When you hear about someone creating a career from a web of gigs, be impressed by their management skills. Handle six projects within a corporation, and get a headache and a good performance review, and maybe a raise. But it is simpler because the pay’s the same, the benefits are the same, and conflicts are negotiated within a relatively common culture. Handle six projects as an entrepreneur, and the juggling shifts from handling six knives to handling a knife, a chain saw, a fish, a pumpkin, a torch, and whatever flies by. Pay, benefits, time, location, dress code, and urgency vary throughout the day. No wonder liquor sales are rising and marijuana is becoming legal.
I’d like to tell you more about the project, but as any artist will tell you, things change. That’s true within corporate America, but especially true when trying to compile a compelling story based on the inputs and constraints of several people and disciplines. It would be great to interview someone who was forty years old in 1890, but few people live to be 126 years old. Some audio or video or story may be compelling, but if it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the episodes it gets cut. Develop an idea, outline a narrative, create a draft, add or subtract based on available media and people, and repeat and repeat. So, I can’t tell you what exactly we’re going to produce, but I can tell you that it is nice to work in a talented group on a common goal (but also with limits on time and money, of course.)
While I can finally talk a bit about my new creative assignment, I’ll continue to remain more private about shifts that are happening within the writing community (as it sorts out its new direction), the coworks community (as various coworkers and possible hosts decide upon their needs and wants), and more than one other project that is considering me as a manager or major contributor (hence more NDAs whether implicit or explicit.)
Put everything together and after a thirteen hour day yesterday, what will effectively be a twelve hour day today, and two more schedule intense days for the rest of the workweek, I’ll be tired and ready to work shorter days on the weekend.
As grueling and unbelievable as that may sound to some, the shift is significant. When you aren’t making enough money to pay all your bills, any free time can be spent on worry. There’s more than enough unsolicited advice, peer pressure, societal shame, and financial necessity to fill free time with worry. Time is valuable. Is there something I’m overlooking that may be the key to paying my bills? Now, my free time is more likely to be spent juggling a variety of projects, some as contributor, some as manager, some as entrepreneur (which means simultaneously originator, contributor, manager, and evaluator.)
I am one of the fortunate ones. By many measures, despite having to pay my income taxes with a credit card, statistically I am middle class, barely. My clients have interesting work. There’s more than enough diversity in shifting from a museum about computing in the classroom, to writing light and hopefully entertaining articles about Seattle’s currently bizarre real estate market, to diving into and documenting Whidbey Island’s culture, community, and history. That kind of juggling means no day is dull. And, the other opportunities can be equally diverse. My resume and LinkedIn page are expanding – and I like it.
WhidbeyTV is a local initiative, a unmet demand that was recognized by the people who run the local telephone company. Living on an island means living within a culture that can be significantly different from mainland communities three miles away. The waters around any island create a cultural moat that may not mesh with the mainland’s media offerings. There may be a smaller audience, but it is a more dedicated audience. People who live in isolated places, are more likely to do so consciously. They know why they live where they live. They pick where they want to live, and then decide how to live there; rather than finding a job and then settling on housing based on commuting. Each choice is a story, and I get to help tell those stories. So, yeah, am I happier? Yeah. Am I glad I could disclose that much? Yeah. Do I know what’s going to happen next? Not exactly, but it will certainly be a story. Thanks for staying tuned. There’s more to come.