This is what awaits me every evening. In this chair, after a grueling day as the mental health reporter/producer of Tucson’s NPR and PBS member station, after catching up with my husband over dinner and all-too-briefly catching my breath, I sit and begin another workday.
This is when I become a freelancer.
Like so many other science writers, I juggle more than one job. I have a full-time staff job as a journalist creating radio and television stories for broadcast here in southern Arizona. I have another full-time or near-full-time job as a freelance writer for national newspapers, magazines and nonprofits.
This probably sounds more than a little masochistic, but it’s what I have to do right now to keep everyone’s dreams alive. I draw steady pay and benefits while my husband changes careers, and I get to keep my freelance clients happy and available for the day when I can go back to just freelancing (what I did during our first four years in Tucson).
And it’s only temporary, I tell myself on days when it really isn’t easy.
Take today: While still finishing breakfast, I followed up on a missing payment from a freelance client and handled last-minute revisions for a recent translation project. Then, after commuting through the never-ending construction zone between my home and Arizona Public Media’s studios, I worked through a day that included writing three different scripts (one for a radio feature, one for a television feature, and one for an entire episode of our nightly news show), recording voice-overs, seeking out sources for future stories, arranging interviews for upcoming episodes, and generally flying by the seat of my pants—after which I commuted back, steeling myself for some time on the treadmill (juggling two writing jobs can make you pretty sedentary) before sitting down to dinner. And here I am, writing this, with yet another assignment waiting in the wings for later tonight.
Yes, I’m exhausted. Yes, this is challenging. But it’s also incredibly rewarding to know I can provide for my family and still tend to this dream. In the year or so that I’ve been doing this, I’ve learned to count my blessings, and to trust that I can take on more than I ever thought I could. Every day I get better at balancing my jobs and my life, and every day I feel fortunate that I get to tackle two jobs when so many people out there are desperately seeking one. So—like so many of you out there—I sit down in this chair, take a breath and begin anew, knowing each day of this wild double life brings us closer to the future we dream of.