Self-employment’s guilty pleasures can be frustrating

By John Toth

Before I started writing this column, I was wasting time on Netflix and feeling guilty. That is one pitfall of self-employment -- feeling guilty when I am not working.

Self-employment is wonderful most of the time. I have been doing it since 1995. I would not trade if for anything else. Well, yes, I would, but it depends.

For example, I would trade it for winning the Powerball, or something along those lines.
I started to work as many hours as I wished when I quit the Houston Chronicle as a reporter and opened my own weekly paper.

And why not? I could always go back and work for the man if things didn’t go well. Actually, I would have gone back to working for the woman (I had a woman editor - and a very good one). I had a chance to return to my old job four months later, but insecurity was just too much fun.

Growing up in three countries and learning two new languages provided me with an entire childhood of insecurities. So, what’s a little self-employment compared to that?

I went for it, and so far it has worked. We’re starting our 20th year in July of publishing The Bulletin.

“You’re so lucky that you don’t have a boss.” I hear this a lot. I don’t have one boss. I have dozens of them each week. Yeah, I want as many bosses as I can get.

“I hate my job.” I hear this quite often also. I would get a job that is not really a job. A job is tedious, long, cumbersome. A hobby that became a job is fun and adventurous.

I had to do stuff at the Chronicle I disliked, and all of the other papers for which I worked. (Notice that I did not leave a dangling participle? That’s an improvement.)

My editor is very picky when it comes to all of this writing stuff. She goes through it with a fine-tooth comb. (How is that for a cliche?) Please proof all new ads, I keep asking. A spelling mistake doesn’t cost us money. If we screw up an ad, we’ll have to eat it.

That’s not saying that the copy is not important, but the copy depends on advertising. I just want to clarify that for the benefit of all of those purists who go through a newspaper, composed under a tight deadline, and start picking out spelling and grammatical mistakes.

There are probably a bunch of mistakes in every newspaper in the country if you look closely enough.

I had a professor in a college writing class who went through the New York Times and tore it apart in front of the students. Not physically, but by finding every little mistake.

And, he worked for the Times, but probably not liked too much.

So, here I am, working because I feel guilty. But is this really work? I’m word-processing thoughts into a computer and kind of enjoying the different directions they are taking.

Before I started writing, I was watching a TV drama on Netflix because I became hooked on it, because that’s very easy. The shows follow each other, and Netflix makes it even harder to stop because it automatically starts the next show.

Netflix was definitely not invented for the benefit of the self-employed. Oh, the guilt trip. I’ll just watch one more show. It’s only 42 minutes (no commercials).

Column over. I’m wasting time again ... and feeling guilty, but so what? I’m used to it.