A room of my own

I’m writing to you live(-ish) from….drumroll…my very own office! In our new house! Yay!! (yes, over-use of exclamation points, but I thought it deserved the extra excitement).

For some people becoming consultant or working from home is a conscious choice. Fed up with the 9-5, they choose to give it a go, working from home, being their own boss. Making that step is huge, but it seems to me that most people don’t enter into the choice lightly, and do a lot of thinking about how they will make it work for them. I, however, sort of unintentionally fell into self-employment. All I knew for sure when I left Liberia was that the stress of 12+ hour days everyday, not  having a real home to unpack in, constantly needing to make new friends as your good ones moved onto different assignments – it just was NOT fun anymore. I had to leave my job or lose my sanity (and health). I didn’t give a ton of thought to what I was going to do when I got to South Africa – I had some vague ideas, but didn’t really have the brainpower for the first few months to really do any really thinking.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when it dawned on me that I’ve actually become a freelance consultant. And that somehow I have more work than I want. I know enough not to take that for granted – it’s a fickle world, freelancing. But it does feel nice to have a few clients who seem quite happy (dare I say impressed) with my work, including my former employer.  I’m still not 100% sure what to call myself, though I guess I would say freelance writer – very tentatively, however, because a) my assignments involve writing plus all the random things the client wants help with and b) it just feels odd to call myself a writer.

All that is a long segue into the main topic of this post – my new office. In our last little cottage space was at a premium. I mean, it wasn’t NY apartment size, but for two people who are home an awful lot (and all their ‘gear’) it was a bit tight. Nick and I shared a lovely little office, but the nature of his work is that he can be off quite a bit during the week. And likewise, the nature of my work is such that I don’t really have any set hours, just crazy deadlines for writing projects. And Nick, when he is off, spends a lot of time on his computer, doing research, teaching himself new things or, of course, playing computer games (he’s a nerd at heart). Now, to Nick’s credit, he tried. He really really did. And in fact I couldn’t have asked for a better office-mate. And believe me, I’ve had some crazies. But when I’m deep into ‘proposaling’ or hitting a deadline, I just need quiet. Space to think. I get stressed, and then easily distracted, then cranky…not a good combo. I also find that having my office just steps from the bedroom, kitchen, and other nice distractions is tricky.

But in our new house we have PLENTY of space. Maybe it just feels that way because we have no furniture. Anyway, as of today I officially have my own office, with a door and everything! In our new, fabulous house we have a long, skinny room on the side of the yard with tiled floors and a window opening onto the garden. I’m not sure what the original builders intended for it, but the real estate agent told us it would be the perfect place for our live-in nanny when we have kids (yes, I live in South Africa, things are a bit different than the US). We didn’t really know what to do with it, but after unsuccessfully trying out my office in the front bedroom for a few weeks in the middle of a hectic deadline (only realizing midway through that the room actually didn’t have a door,) I decided that the room out back would be perfect for my office. Nick agreed. So he helped me move everything out here after my crazy deadline was over last night, and this afternoon I’ve gotten to spend my first time here writing.

It needs some work – first off, we have to do something to hide all the ‘storage’ (read=junk) that we’ve piled at the other end of the room. And I need to make it a bit more homey, get some bookshelves, a rug, lamps, etc. There’s a chunk missing from the ceiling cornice, and now that it started raining I hear a loud dripping sound that I think (hope) is outside and which could make me have to run inside for the bathroom every five minutes. But (can I say this again?) – it’s my own office! I love it. Ipod speakers are set up. Internet connection seems to be working well. Computer is struggling by on its’ last legs. I guess that’s all I need! I must say, I’m pretty darn lucky to have this space.