Home Office, Or, Trust Me On The Pants

dhammza / Foter

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check us out!

As sometimes happens, I got nothin’ for a blog post, even though it’s my day here at the Dames. I would have some braincycles, really I would, except for the cold my loving son brought home from elementary school and the line edits due back tomorrow, as well as the lack of sleep and a few other things. (Like, Dinosaur-Sized Personal Things.)

It’s enough to make a Rex Velvet out of anyone.

Often, people will think writing is a glamorous or lazy job. Sometimes I wish they could see me in my Jedi bathrobe, unwashed and hacking up a lung, Kleenex scattered through the living room and my bloodshot eyes burning with hellfire as I try to crunch through work to meet a deadline. (Or, you know, think up a subject for a blog post while my brain is line-edited sludge and my immune system is desperately imitating the Charge of the Light Brigade.) There are nice things about my morning commute being a shamble to the living room, sure–but I also don’t get to walk away from my work. It follows me, peeking out of cracks and corners, even when I’m staggering down the hall for bed after turning in a 12-hour day of line edits. This shit is not for the faint of heart or stomach.

Which is a somewhat roundabout way of saying I’m digging deep into my cortex for a Three Things post. Here are three things nobody told me about working from home:

1. Solitude is your friend. Until it’s not. I need large chunks of alone time. I can function without them, but it’s not pretty. But even I sometimes go grocery shopping just so I can see the checkout lady and remind myself I’m human. (The kids can rarely help me with that one, because I’ve raised them–they don’t have much of a basis for comparison. They tend to think I’m normal, poor things. Their therapy bills are gonna be HUGE. Anyway.) Paradoxically, my job involves a great deal of observing people so I can build characters effectively, and further requires that I interact with fans, editors, editorial assistants, Production and Marketing staff, and fellow authors (just to mention a few) without sounding like a troglodyte or a crackhead squirrel-feeding mouthbreather.

Which I manage with varying degrees of success, all told, but those interpersonal skills do tend to rust when you spend long hours moving around the people inside your head and making the words sit straight on the page. Exercising them enough to not (overly) embarrass yourself (much) in public is just another thing to add to the ever-growing to-do list.

2. Still gotta get dressed. Mostly. To call the dress code here at Office Saintcrow “relaxed” is, well, an understatement. I joke about work not requiring the wearing of pants, but really, getting the pattern of your office chair’s upholstery tattooed on your nethers isn’t a good time. (Don’t ask.) And when I have correspondence to deal with, I’ve found it goes a lot better if I’m showered and at least reasonably attired. It’s like the old advice about standing up and smiling when you’re on an important phone call–it makes you sound brighter and better. Sometimes I’ll dress up to write a particular scene, and there was one book (I am not going to say which one) that I had to go through the copyedits while wearing heels and eyeliner just to remind myself that I was a professional, dammit, and I was not going to start throwing things.

3. Save somewhere, spend somewhere else. So I don’t have the associated costs of a morning commute–petrol, wear and tear on the car, wear and tear on the nerves–but my caffeine habit consumes the GNP of a small island nation. Not to mention my book habit, because getting them delivered is easy, right? What I save on postage costs through email I spend on high-speed Internet and various apps and software. Sometimes working at home is cheaper, sometimes it’s not. I finally broke down and got an accountant to do my taxes, since she knew how to compute home-office stuff, and frankly she saves me from needing a boatload of Xanax and ulcer medication every April. See? It’s like trying to fit eight pounds of Silly Putty into a five-pound burlap sack–no matter how you smash it, something’s going to bulge out somewhere.

…that was probably not my best simile, but what the hell. The cold medication is kicking in, the line edits were slaughtered early this morning and will be sent off on time tomorrow, both dog and cat are snoring in their respective corners, and I may be able to steal a half-hour’s worth of rest before some damn thing else lands in my inbox.

Still, I’m not bitching. This wordmonkey gig is a pretty sweet deal.

Even if you do (really, trust me on this) have to wear pants.

(Most of the time.)