The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Friday, July 21, 2017

Home alone

I've been working freelance from home for 17 years now and, with a few interruptions, I've pretty much settled into a routine. So when my partner was made redundant at Easter, one of my first thoughts was that he'd be at home - and in my space - while he looked for his next job. 

We've had 9 weeks now of sharing the same daytime space, but this morning, I packed him off for a weekend camping trip with friends (rather him than me looking at the weather!), which means that I have the house back to myself for 4 whole days! So, partly inspired by Karen White's blog post about sharing a workspace with her husband, it seemed like a good point at which to reflect on how I'm getting on with having someone else in the house.

Plus points:
  • He's always been really good at understanding that when I'm working, I don't want to be disturbed, so generally, I'm upstairs in my office and he stays downstairs and keeps out of my way.
  • It's nice to share a break with someone, whether that's a chat over lunch or an afternoon cup of tea in the sun. He even goes and gets in afternoon cake ... 
  • It's good to have someone to moan to. A few times when I've been really frustrated with work, it's been nice to let off a bit of steam and get a bit of sympathy. 
  • I'm less tied to the working week. When the weather's been nice during the week, we've gone out and done something together and then I've worked a weekend day instead. Both of us having that flexibility is fun.

  • I think I've mentioned before that when I work, I don't sit silently at my desk for hours on end. I like to wander around the house, especially when I'm thinking. So I might compose a tricky email to an editor while I pull up a few weeds in the garden or mull over contexts for practising countable and uncountable nouns while I'm emptying the dishwasher. Or I might just stand and stare out the window while I'm trying to work out the wording for a grammar note. Having someone else in the house makes me a bit more self-conscious, especially as when I go downstairs, he tends to take it as a sign that I'm having a break and I'm ready to chat.
  • And then I talk to myself ... not all the time, but on and off through the day. Sometimes that's exclaiming at a stupid feedback comment out loud or more often it's just reading back something I've written to see how is scans. Again, it feels odd when there's someone else in earshot.
  • Although the shared breaks are nice, they do seem to be longer than the ones I'd have on my own, which eats into my working time. And while it's good to have a mental break too and chat about something non-work, that's also thinking time lost.
Wording while weeding ...

All round, it's actually been fine. It wasn't until today when I realized how excited I was at the prospect of having the place back to myself that I really noticed how having someone else in the house had affected the way I work. And after all, hopefully, it's only a temporary arrangement, so I'm sure we'll continue to muddle through.

So what is this mouse going to do while the cat's away? I suspect I might just work through the whole weekend ... after all, the forecast's rotten ...

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