Not that long ago I brought home an adorable, rambunctious, two month old puppy, an act that led to restructuring not only my free time but how I work as well. Assignments had to be completed during nap times or after he had a Busy Bone to occupy his attention. Energy to catch up on email and projects had to be mustered after long play periods. It was a big adjustment those first couple of months. Be it a pet, a second job, an elderly parent, or children, or more than one of these responsibilities, sometimes schedules have to be restructured and freelancers especially have to learn how to work at interesting times and in unusual places. Our guest writer for today, Janna King, shares her experiences juggling motherhood and working as a freelance writer in this Darby Pops Off.
Until next time,
Ever since my own mom gave me a pen and a journal, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I also knew I wanted to be a mom. And considering that I graduated high school with all “A’s” – except for that “D” in math – writing and mom-ing seemed like reasonable goals.
I was lucky enough to graduate from college and procure a job as a glorified secretary at an entertainment company (i.e. D-girl). There, I honed my writing skills by reading terrible scripts for my producer bosses and saying to myself: “I can do better!” One-upmanship is not really the ideal motivation for a career, but it worked for me. After I had my two kids, I made a decision early-on to stick to freelancing so I could “sherpa” them day-to-day.
I learned to write in the school carpool lane, at karate, music lessons, the park and pediatrician’s offices. I am a workhorse, making sure to get an assignment done right and on time – which often means working very early in the morning, very late at night, and anytime on the weekends. (Note: my spouse is VERY understanding). I have perfected my time management skills and my ability to focus amidst the din of sibling bickering, the reverb from my daughter’s electric bass, barking dogs, and gossiping soccer parents.
Since Hollywood is no longer a freelancer’s paradise, I take (almost) all the jobs that come my way to cobble together a living – animation, TV movies, commercials, books and, most recently, plays. “Jacqueline of all Trades, Master of None,” some might say. But, I beg to differ. Apologies in advance for sounding pretentious, but I am, at my core, a storyteller. And I’ve learned to tell stories in all different genres. I’ve learned to work with every type of personality. I’ve learned to pitch in a variety of ways – with props, with visuals, with neither… on a plane, on a train, in the rain…
Have I fantasized about what would’ve happened had I deferred pregnancy and taken a staff job early on? Yes. Do I regret my decision? Absolutely not. Not everyone gets the opportunity to run a show, by fate or by choice. But as professional writers, most of us got into this because we wanted, or needed, to write. And because we got a “D” in math.
I am most happy when I’m sitting at my computer, letting stories about dragons or murderous mistresses or professional mourners or even energy drinks (yes, I’ve written energy drink ads) play out in my head. I am equally blissful picking my son up from drumline practice, and talking about farts while navigating L.A. traffic. That’s the story of life. And my life is a mother.
About the Author
Janna King writes for kids and grown-ups. Find her periodically inappropriate musings on Twitter at Janna King (@amiwriteJK) and Instagram at JannaKingK. She has recently given directing a go. Watch her short films, MOURNING GLORY and THE BREAK UP on www.funnyordie.com. Her kids are big now, so she’s gung ho for full-time work.