My family has been on sabbatical in Berkeley, California for the last five months, soaking up the sunshine and avoiding the Polar Vortex back in Minnesota. This is undoubtedly one of the best parts of freelancing—with no office job I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to move to the coast for a while. The experience has been world-expanding for our kids, and it has been great to spend time with old friends from our grad school days here. It has also been wonderful and motivating to be able to see so many other science writers face to face. The Bay Area is hard to beat for the vibrancy of its science writing community.
As the end of our time here nears, however, I see that some of the same patterns have emerged as did the last time we went afield for a while: I spent most of my time on work that was in the hopper already, or on phone-based assignments that cropped up from regular clients, and very little on the kinds of things that really take advantage of a new location. I did make a reporting trip to southern California, and attended a conference. I also met with a couple of editors and a bunch of writers. But I didn’t schedule nearly all of the lunches with sources, seminars, lab visits, and networking coffees I’d anticipated when we arrived.
Perhaps I’ll get it right for our next sabbatical: clear the slate of work and leave plenty of time for on-site reporting. Or perhaps it’s OK to do what I can, and to realize that part of being in a new place is the chance to report, but part of it is to enjoy. When confronted with produce like this, how can you do anything else?
Image credit: Michelle Nijhuis