by Chrysa Smith

Just recently, someone passed a comment about my very flexible work schedule. They referred to me as someone who ‘doesn’t work.’ That’s interesting. Because while I’m not out the door to a different physical workspace in the early hours of the morning, I am in my office for hours on most days, sending emails, correcting manuscripts, writing, marketing, promoting my self-published book series—all in between one of my most favorite jobs of visiting elementary schools.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am the first to admit that I have a wonderful work schedule. For all practical purposes, I have most of the summer off since I work on the school year calendar. But when a new book is in production, as is this summer, I spend many long hours, in the wee hours of the morning, and past dinnertime, proofreading, writing, fixing typos, contacting printers, copyeditors, illustrator; producing PowerPoint presentations, graphic organizers, trivia games; creating mail lists, printing labels, etc. And during the school year, it’s contacting schools for visits, following up, sending order forms and posters, restocking books, packaging books and spending many hours talking with children in school and conducting workshops.

So why is it that some folks who work in an office, a store, a physical space reserved only for work, believe that those of us who work from home, really ‘don’t work?’ There was a related piece on this topic recently, on the TODAY show. Actually it was about stay-at-home moms getting tired of all of their working friends who dumped their errands on them, since they ‘were not working.’ If these ‘non-working’ women videotaped their day, I don’t believe anyone could consider them on leisure time.

Now, I can throw in a load of wash in between projects. I can sneak out for lunch, take my mom to the grocery story and my dogs for a nice walk on a beautiful day. Those are the blessings of working at home. But as a self-published author, I have no office buddies, weekly pay check, no guarantee of a regular income from an employer. It is completely and totally up to me. I hire all of my own vendors, contact booksellers, schools, teachers, libraries, book associations, conferences, colleges who offer writing workshops, etc. etc. etc. and think about ideas for the next book. The harder I work. The heavier I pound the pavement, the better I’m likely to do—-and that, my critical friends, is one heck of a job.

So I would suggest the next time someone is tempted to label another as one who ‘doesn’t work,’ that they stop and think a little broader. I’ve worked in plenty of offices where I had way more downtime than I do now with my own, home-based business. There are many paths, many styles of work, many schedules. Please don’t minimize home-based workers. After all, they are the folks who often do help you out, stay out of your way on the road, keep the grocery check outs, Home Depot and the nail salon clear on weekends, all while contributing to the economy, society—including paying taxes.

Now, time to refresh my cup of tea, throw the wash into the dryer and run to the store for lunch. But you can bet this afternoon, I’m back labelling and stuffing mailings to promote the new book–which was proofed and returned to the printer on a late Sunday evening.