Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Monday With a View

by Zinta Aistars

An office with a view, Z Acres

For years, I've joked about it whenever I have been at a job interview. I am seeking the job that makes me love a Monday. Only I wasn't really joking. That really was my goal, even as I knew, one after another, that the jobs I have taken over my career path have not provided that.

Don't get me wrong; I have held some really wonderful positions at some really wonderful companies, organizations and institutions. So much so that most of the clients I have listed for my first months of work at my new writing and editing business, Z Word, are those same previous employers.

I don't burn bridges. I haven't needed to. When I recently received emails from a few other writers and would-be writers, dreaming of doing the same thing of going full-time freelance, asking me how I am going to "pull this off," I could only respond: by doing what I have been doing all along. Working hard, working well, meeting deadlines, giving my utmost to provide the copy a client needs and wants. I'm doing that with the people, for the most part, who already know me and my work, and with whom I have built a strong reputation, building block by building block, to reach this place of take-off.

What is going to change is that I moved my office. And oh, is it ever an office with a view! Better than a corner office. Z Acres, my headquarters, a ten-acre farm in southwest Michigan, has all four corners covered, north, south, east, west. If I wish, I can just as easily work outside, on the deck, on the screened-in porch, or sitting on a blanket in the shade of a tree.

Even on a rainy day, the view is beautiful ...

I've had some pretty nice offices over the years, but nothing beats this. Z Acres played a great part in inspiring me to finally make the move to establishing my own business, as I realized when my last employer commented to me how she has noticed that I am most productive on the days I work from home ... and she was absolutely right. No long and wearying commute up and down the interstate. No frustrating waits at traffic lights or caught in traffic jams. No waste of time and energy and money preparing for the work day, fussing with hair and makeup and choosing the day's wardrobe. No long hours spent in meetings where little gets accomplished. No office politics.

Not that I won't have to drive out to meet and interview clients from time to time. When I interview people for an article, for instance, I often feel that seeing someone in his or her element, in that person's own comfort zone, adds an important element to my finished piece. That's why I avoid phone interviews whenever it is reasonable to do so.

But I've noticed that many of my new clients are asking to meet me at MY office. They want to come out to Z Acres to talk to me, and they are willing to drive long miles to get here. No argument from me! I love to share my great space. I have seen it many times over the past months of living here, how people transform the moment they arrive, stress peeling away, weight lifting from shoulders, frown lines fading from foreheads. People plant themselves into the lounge chairs on my deck and heave a great sigh, relaxing, maybe for the first time in a long time.

And we begin to talk. About work, about what my client wants me to accomplish with various ideas that need to be wrapped in good words, or I begin my interview with questions that will give me the information I need to construct the copy. A great office (with a view) matters. It matters in putting my clients at ease, and it matters in putting me at ease so that I can focus fully on my work.

Keeping long hours at Z Acres

I realize Mondays have lost their sting. Now that I am on my own schedule, week days shift. I may do more writing on a Sunday, put my feet up on a Monday, schedule an interview for an evening hour rather than business hours. The important thing is that I have kept the part of my work that I have always enjoyed the most, and I have pared away the parts I enjoy least.

Work is not a bad thing. Work is an honorable part of our lives. When we do the work we love, or "follow our bliss" as Joseph Campbell puts it, it rejuvenates us rather than exhausts us. Work adds meaning to our days. It is when work becomes the drudgery of merely earning a paycheck that we begin to tire and long for the weekend.

Granted, sometimes it is necessary to do work that is less than satisfactory in providing challenge and fulfillment. I've done some of that. As long as we consider it a building block to something better, it may be necessary to pay those dues. What I am doing now, heading into self-employment, is the culmination of many, many jobs that came before, of a network built since my earliest years, of a reputation built on meeting deadlines and providing strong copy over and over and over again.

Who knows what the future holds? Right now, heading into my first month, my calendar is full, and the work is bountiful. Will that hold? Will there also be quieter months when it is hard to find work? Undoubtedly. The first thing to go when one is self-employed is the security and stability of a steady paycheck, arriving like clockwork. There is definite risk in going it alone, without the protective umbrella of a big company overhead.

I'm willing to take that risk. All in exchange for a Monday that has become my favorite day of the week, and a ten-acre office with an endless view. 

A Z Acres sunset

1 comment:

  1. Ah, what a lovely post -- and a wonderful "office." I work from home as well, but my view is of black cabs and and St Paul's Cathedral looming in the distance. But on an unusually beautiful summer day last week I took my manuscript, walked along the Thames and sat on a bench overlooking the river and let the city whirl around me as I edited sentences of places far away. Yes, working from home takes discipline. But oh, the advantages!