It’s eleven on a Tuesday morning. I’ve been lying on the couch reading and I must have nodded off because an sms alerts me to the fact that it’s almost time to fetch the children from school.

I call this work.

It’s not the whole picture of course, but it’s the part of the picture I like most about freelancing.

Last night I worked till past midnight on an article that’s been hanging over my head for three weeks and with which I’ve struggled tremendously. This morning’s deadline helped me focus my mind – as looming deadlines always do – and I wrote from 9pm till past midnight. When I woke I had to pry my eyes open with a winch to face the day.

Then, just as I was hitting my stride after a slow start at my computer, the Telkom lines failed me, as they’ve done a number of times this past week. When things happen over which you have no control, you can rage, (which seldom improves the situation), or you can calmly accept the status quo. I always choose the latter, because it involves less energy expenditure. So, unable to write or do research, I took up the pile of short stories I’m editing and lay on my beautiful couch, in my sunny study, with my door open and a refreshing breeze blowing over me.

And then I fell asleep.

Logically, there was nothing better I could have done with the time. I needed sleep more than I needed to do anything else that didn’t involve my computer, but to be granted the space to do it in, and the freedom to do it, was a happy confluence of circumstances, aided by my self-employed status. I only felt guilty for about a minute after waking up.

Freelancing is much harder work than I ever imagined. I’m a writer, not an accountant, so I struggle with invoicing and reconciliation, with the computer hassles (there’s no IT department a quick dial away!) and with the fractured time I spend between work and children. And my working day seldom ends after the children are asleep.

But I’d rather struggle through those minor headaches than ever have to answer to a boss again. And I’d much rather have a mid-morning snooze on a working day, than have an IT department in the next room.

About the Author:

Karin Schimke was a political writer for The Star and The Cape Times before turning to freelancing in 2000. She has written columns and feature articles for a variety of mainstream newspapers and magazines, and also publishes short stories and poetry. She reviews books for the Cape Times and has a regular column on

Karin has written two non-fiction books: Fabulously 40 and beyond (with Margie Orford), and Mother Country. She also edited Open, a collection of literary erotic short stories by South African women writers.

Karin Schimke tutors the Magazine Journalism Course at SA Writers’ College.