Last week, I found myself finished with my work.
That wasn't such an unusual thing back when I had a full-time job. In fact, that's one thing I really loved about newspaper copy editing. At the end of the night, no matter how heavy the workload or how crushing the deadline pressure, I walked out of there done. The presses were rolling, there was nothing more I could do. Sure, I could go home and second-guess myself a little bit -- maybe I should have gone in a different direction with that headline, maybe I should have called the reporter to clarify that one point, OH MY GOD DID I CHECK THE NAME SPELLING IN THAT PHOTO CAPTION? -- but the fact is the next day was a clean slate. I was working on tomorrow's paper, not today's. So "done" was a daily event, and that felt great.
But in my new life as a freelance writer and editor, it's extremely rare that my slate is clean. I finish projects all the time, but there's always several more in the works. So "done" with one thing simply means maybe a quick sigh of relief and then jumping right in to the next thing on the to-do list. I sure don't mean to complain -- endless projects means a steady flow of money, which is nothing to take for granted as a freelancer because nothing is granted at all -- but I do miss feeling like my work is truly done, at least for the day.
But last week I went on vacation, our annual family trip to the N.C. mountains for the music festival Merlefest, and I simply could not (and did not want) to take work with me. So I cleared my calendar with each client months in advance. And, two days before leaving town for our four-day weekend in the woods, I sent one last email, checked one last thing, hit "send" on one last document and realized ... I was done.
There was nothing hanging over my head that I *should* be working on. Nothing with a far-off deadline that I really *should* get a head start on. Just a nice stretch of blank space on my calendar.
Sure, the day after my return from vacation, I was slammed. There were hundreds of emails in my inboxes, deadlines to meet, calls to return. That's life as usual. But for those few days last week, I was free. I was done. And it was delicious.