The Anti-Social Life of the Freelance Writer
All writing is an antisocial act, since the writer is a man who can speak freely only when alone; to be himself he must lock himself up, to communicate he must cut himself off from all communication; and in this there is something always a little mad.
I get it, Kenneth: freelance writers are antisocial creatures. They hide in their writing rooms, wearing extraordinarily ugly yet comfortable clothing, and their best friends include cats, dogs, or even inanimate objects. Up at all hours of the night, most rarely leave the house and some barely work up the courage to peak through the curtains. A freelance writer is a mad, mad creature indeed.
I should know – I am an antisocial freelance writer.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about two-thirds of the 129,100 writers in the United States are self-employed. That means there are about 86,000 writers who probably lead anti-social lives, just like me. I like to call them “anti-socialites.”
I was not always an anti-socialite. I once had a “real” job out in the “real” world where I had to deal with “real” people. I had no clue what I was thinking back then – working with others must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, as I look back, the commutes, congestion, and co-workers all seem like a “real” pain.
The antisocial life of a freelance writer is nothing short of wonderful. I became a freelance writer about 15 years ago. Today, I write from the comfort of my own home. I like to think that I use words to create a deep and intimate bond with readers. I love the idea of communicating with my fellow man, of building a bridge to millions of readers… just as long as I do not actually have to interact with them in real life.
Writers like me are thinkers. We live inside our heads, kept company by our own thoughts. We like it that way. A quiet, solitary lifestyle helps us crystallize our thoughts. Silence and serenity — and sometimes a bit of background music — keeps us at our keyboards. Even the smallest distraction, such as the sound of a ringing telephone, roar of a small kitten, or a friendly greeting from a loved one, can obliterate a train of thought.
This sort of interaction can also be quite scary for the antisocial writer, so most of us prefer to talk to our fellow anti-socialites on the internet, even though we know that socializing on the internet is not quite the same as mixing it up with real people. The internet allows us to filter out any opposing viewpoints. Because we surround ourselves with people who agree with us, we never have to exercise the social graces that help diverse groups of people get along.
In other words, socializing in real life is much harder than chatting on the internet – any antisocial freelance writer can tell you that. The good news is that even anti-socialites can have a good social life, with a little practice each day. Anti-socialites can schedule an outing every day, even for just a walk around the block. With practice and advanced social skills, the modern freelance writer can even enter retail stores and residential homes to communicate face-to-face with people.
Kenneth Tynan may be correct when he says that a freelance writer must be a little mad, but the life of an anti-socialite is still wonderful.
Lynn H is an anti-socialite freelance writer who does manage to leave her home on an annual basis.