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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

How To Make All Your Friends Hate You
by Sharon Wren

People give all sorts of reasons why they want to make a living by writing. “I can be home with the kids and save money on daycare.” “I can be my own boss and set my own hours.” “I can be creative and get paid for it.”

Anyone who tells you this is lying, at least a little. The above reasons may be valid, but writers really want to do this for a living because they want to stay in their jammies all day, or at least until five minutes before everybody else gets home. That’s when they hurry up and get dressed and practice whining about editors and slow dialups so everyone will know they did some work. It rarely works though because even the slowest dialup can’t compete with rush hour on the Dan Ryan Expressway or working for Dilbert’s pointy haired boss. 

Yes, freelance writers have a pretty gravy deal as far as working conditions. But now that summer is coming, I’m going to share my secret to making both freelancers and cube-dwellers almost insane with jealousy. It’s called an outdoor office. I first saw one on a home improvement/gardening show. It featured a desk that folded up against the house (it was sided underneath with stuff that matched the house) and a nearby shed that held the desk chair and computer when not in use. While it looked cool, it was a bit complicated and expensive for me so I decided to do my own version.

I claimed our covered patio as my “summer office”. I bought an AlphaSmart word processor, dragged a few necessities outside and got to work. I figure it’s going to take most of the summer to get all the bugs worked out. 

So far it’s working pretty well. As I write this, I’m sitting on the swing on the patio, AlphaSmart on my lap, soft jazz on the boom box, a gentle breeze stirring the wind chimes and a can of Diet and a piece of apple pie on the table next to me. I can almost hear you now – “Man, she sucks!” Hee hee.

There are drawbacks though. For instance, I can’t write off some of the things I needed for my new office on my taxes. My H&R Block agent would have a coronary if I tried to deduct my wind chime, flowers for the garden and the new Enya CD. But darn it, I NEED that stuff!  There are occupational hazards too. Right now that gentle breeze has turned into a gust and it keeps blowing dust in my eyes. I don’t have a laptop, so if I have to do any research or need to send in a story, I have to go in the house. Oh, and one of my Boston ferns is half dead. Isn’t that just awful? (giggle) 

You don’t need a patio and a swing to do this for yourself; any place that has a nice view and somewhere to sit will work just fine. You city dwellers could be on a nice park bench, maybe near a friendly hot dog vendor, cranking out work while the cube dwellers look down from their high offices in envy. A rooftop or fire escape would give you the feeling of a penthouse office. When the Great Outdoors is your workplace, who needs a steenkin’ corner office?

Yep, this outdoor office is so much better than the cube where I was trapped during my incarceration in Corporate America. Fresh air, river views and pop that isn’t 75 cents a can.  Now if I can just figure out how to make more money…

Sharon Wren is a freelance writer who has been writing online for over five years. She is the Contributing Editor for Wildlife News & Humor Column at Suite 101, is the Managing Editor for Humor and Satire there and writes humor columns for Laughter Loaf and Absolute Write. She also writes about gardening and parenting. She wrote two books last year, Overworked & Underpaid for Albooktross.com and Dr. Spock Never Said It'd Be Like This for Self Help Guides.com.

She lives on an island on the Mississippi River with her husband, two small sons, 5 dachshunds, 2 cats and assorted ducks, geese and other critters. Her Web address is http://i.am/overworkedandunderpaid. She can be reached at swren1@msn.com









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