Wednesday, November 12, 2003

There's no such thing as a free lance

It’s been a while since the last instalment in the blog, and there’s a reason for that – freelance.

In a copywriter’s expansive vocabulary, few words elicit such unadulterated pleasure as ‘freelance’. It’s the advertising term for moonlighting, converting clever words into numbers (with rupee signs in front of them!) Why, with the right client and the right fee, one could end up making a month’s salary for just a few days work.

But like all things which sound too good to be true, freelance has its downsides. The most perilous being the name itself. FREE-lance. Somehow, that bit misleads clients into thinking they don’t really have to pay. Or rather, that there’s no hurry to pay up.

So here I wait to be paid for the URGENT job I did in January. I’ve spent more in phone calls following up on that cheque. Each month I’m haranguing a new person, because the previous bloke has quit the company. Sometimes I wonder if I should quit too. But then the galling thought of being cheated makes me lunge for the phone once again.

Another cheque-in-the-mail is due from my ex-agency. If I had an ounce of sense I would have refused the job, because I knew their haphazard functioning. Still the thought of being indispensable to one’s ex-agency was flattering. Now I listen to the same excuses every week ‘We’ve sent the estimate for approval’… ‘Cash crunch in the agency’… ‘Will look into the matter’. Maybe I should invest in a few voodoo dolls.

Recently, I did a job for a friend. That sounds like it has disaster written all over it, right? But hang on; he actually paid me an advance. The job’s been completed a few months now, but not the payment issues. The last time I tentatively brought up the subject, he mumbled something about checking his bank balance.
For a while I began refusing freelance work. Offers came up but I referred other copywriters. Nothing was worth the hassle, I told myself virtuously.

But the filthy love of lucre can’t be quashed and I accepted not one, but three assignments. I’ve just sent my bills yesterday. Now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my voodoo dolls poised.

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