I had that conversation only last night, at what had otherwise been a lovely, fun party, but those snide words stuck in my craw and all I wanted to do then was leave. If I hadn’t, things might have got ugly…
I didn’t leave, however, without first responding that I actually work very hard, and any ‘leave’ I take is unpaid leave. ‘Oh yes, I know really,’ was the unconvincing, watery reply – unconvincing because we’ve had that conversation before, so if they ‘know’, why do we have to keep having it?
As a musician and freelance copy-editor/proofreader, I work whatever hours I need to – often late at night in the former case, and often from six in the morning in the latter. If I have a tight deadline to meet, I work round the clock. If I’m ill and can’t work, I don’t get paid. If I take holiday, I don’t get paid. Unless a song of mine hits big in Nashville, I won’t be able to retire at 66, probably not even at 76, should I live that long. I might take the afternoon off for my funeral, but that’ll be about it.
I’ve structured my working life – yes, working life – in such a way that I can make (just about) enough money to get by but stay healthy in mind and body. If that doesn’t fit with someone else’s view of what constitutes real work, that’s more a sign of their narrow-mindedness than of my laziness or unwillingness to pull my weight, which was what the comments at the party came down to in the end.
I love my life. I love playing music, and I love travelling around to do so in my camper van. I love it that as long as I have my laptop with me, I can do my editing work anywhere in the world, and at any time. That’s freedom, and that’s what makes my life worth living, and no one is taking that away from me for whatever embittered reason. Probably mostly jealousy.