I’ve been freelancing long enough not to believe this entirely until the work’s finished and cleared, the invoices are done and the money’s hit my account – Lord knows, I’ve had more false dawns than hot dinners – but if all goes to plan this month, I should have attained (or possibly even have exceeded) the income that I had this time three years ago, before the great clusterfuck of events of spring-summer 2011 knocked me off kilter. It’s not enough income by a long way – still, there have been many occasions, up to very recently, when even to be back at this point has seemed inconceivable, and I’m very relieved that things finally seem to be turning a corner. I’m clearer than ever about what I want my business to be and do, and I have a solid professional friend helping me with the groundwork. He thinks that I can be back on my fine-and-dandy staff-job salary within a year to 18 months, and exceeding that by 10K or more within a few years. I hope so; it would be very nice indeed.
Three years ago this month, I was a burgeoning freelance journalist doing rather nicely with a scattergun approach to pitching. For one of few times in my adult life I was pretty happy, contented and optimistic about the future, having lost significant chunks of my late teens and early 20s to depression. When I wasn’t writing, I was sharing jokes on my new Twitter account, or strutting around London in a too-tight leather jacket like a parody of an off-duty journo. The freedom, new-found happiness, and desire to make up for lots of lost time soon went to my head, resulting in some not very sensible behaviour, and in being tripped up by other people’s. In the worse-case scenarios, I could have ended up in pretty serious bother. I saddled one of my closest friends – who, unbeknown to me, had relapsed into depression at the time – with some of the details. It might seem foolish, but he was an objective outsider and someone with a great deal of integrity, whom I deeply trusted. When he took his own life a couple of months later, I went into my own downward spiral and partly blamed myself for exacerbating his distress. I partly still do. It took me a long time to pin down and admit to, so it’ll probably be a similarly long time before it goes away. But that is as it is.
Now, I’m staring at the bones of a proper business plan (yes, a business plan – the thing I should’ve had when I started out three years ago and – unbelievably – didn’t), and looking forward to reclaiming my life. Of course, with the prospect of being able to afford to again, the urge to drink a lot of wine and be very silly is rising – I mustn’t fall prey to the same mistakes as last time. I must just try to stay on an even keel, grow the business and finish my book, slaying to-do lists left and right.
Here’s to recovery. Really this time.