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too many books illustration. Mark Fearing

too many books illustration. Mark Fearing

Here’s an update on my book-letting. Two months ago I wrote about my need to get rid of books. That perhaps being buried alive by books in my studio isn’t the way I want to go…though honestly, it’s not a bad way all things being equal.

And now for some blog-honesty…I haven’t gotten rid of one single book.

I tried. We had visitors for Thanksgiving and I tried to talk them into taking some books with them to read on the way home. But they already had plenty of books.

It gets worse…I recently purchased three new books and my bet is the Holidays will see me get at least one or two or three or more. So I am losing the ‘war on books’. I may never move from this house. I don’t have the energy to box-up all these books…

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quick study – crow

Usually on Monday, I post a link to interesting online animation. But today I start a new feature called, Freelance Monday, or how I stopped worrying and became a freelancer and stay at home dad.

I was scared and not sure what I was getting myself into when we set off on the ‘have a kid’ thing. And over the past 19 months I’ve longed for the comfort of a 9 to 5 job. A freelancing day never really ends, and neither does the time it takes to raise our daughter. Raising a 19 month old is far more work then any job, ever invented, except maybe staying home and taking care of 2 or 3, 19 month olds. It’s more like 6 jobs.

I’ve worked some pretty stressful jobs. At Sony Online I was an art director. A lot of hours, a lot of meetings and lot of deadlines. A LOT of JEOPARDY! and Wheel of Fortune. The hours were long, and the deadlines could be killer, but you still got to sleep. You left the office and went home. (not that the 2 hours on the 10 and 110 freeways from Culver City to Pasadena was relaxing). But you got away from work and sleep it off. Over the past 19 months sleep is something I have learned to cheerish. Nothing like staying up for 24 or 28 hours to finish a deadline and then find out that your daughter is getting sick and you will need to sit up with her for the next 12 hours. At some point you get so tired, you don’t mind being tired. It also reminds you to NOT work with clients who want 9 hour turnaround on 34 hours of work.

quick study duck

I am also getting my portfolio ready for the SCBWI conference in Seattle next week. Printing out work, throwing out work, wondering why my work isn’t better, wondering why I haven’t done more fresh work in the past year. And of course, this week is also a deadline week for 2 other projects. Freelancing means in between getting the kid set, and the house set, and the dogs fed and the cat fed you go BACK to work, which is never more then 30 feet away.

But tomorrow around 10:00, my daughter and I will be headed over to the park or, if it’s cold and raining really hard, to the Play Boutique for some fun time. And for that time, at least, I won’t worry about my deadlines, my portfolio or my lack of sleep.

Freelancing has given my wife and I the freedom to raise our daughter at home, until she is a little older and can really enjoy the social aspects of pre-school/day care. It really is a luxury in this day and age. But I haven’t had a full-time, in-house job now for about 22 months. And I am not sure there will be a place for me in the working world when this is all over. I have slowly grown my freelancing to where it about equals my last full-time job (minus the health care). I have always done some freelance on the side, but this is the first extended ‘non-employed’ time in my life. All those years of corporate work, design team meetings, staff meetings, drawing classes, reviews and long hours may have prepared me to run the creative direction of a project or draw and paint well enough to communicate a given idea. But they didn’t provide many lessons about how to be a stay at home dad and balance work in between.

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