There is one question that every creative freelancer dreads.
It is not: “Where do you get your ideas?” (Some of us actually have a quite a good time making up stuff for that one.)
No, the question we all dread is the one our friend/family member asks as soon as we pick up the phone:
“Are you at work or at home?”
This question drives insane both artists and authors alike. Anyone who works from home can empathize. There seem to be no boundaries when a person works from home. It’s HOME. If you are at home, then clearly you are available to go to the store or pick the kids or go for a walk or lend me your chainsaw or look this up on Google or just chat for 3 hours. Right?!?
I mean, it’s not like your boss is going to fire you.
My sister, Soteria Kontis, is a professional jewelry designer. She owns a shop with a storefront in Charleston, South Carolina called Dixie Dunbar Studio. The storefront is her retail showroom. Where she makes the jewelry–where all the gems and tools and machines are located–is her home office studio.
When she is asked, “Are you at work or are you at home?” her answer is usually, “I am working, I’m just not in the store today.” If anyone wants to borrow a cup of sugar, they are welcome to do so before 10am or after 5pm.
The previous owner of the store, the eponymous Dixie Dunbar, used to own a private jewelry studio in an undisclosed location. “It was a brilliant move,” says Soteria. “I just can’t afford that.”
I asked my good friend Greg Hall, aka The Funky Werepig, about this same issue, and his response was similarly passionate.
When the person follows up with, “Do you have time to talk?” Greg replies, “Business or Personal? Because if it’s personal, I have to move to a different chair.”
Greg has many good friends who like to call and “shoot the shit.” It frustrates him to no end. “I just want to say, dude, I have a nine-year-old who gets this concept. Why can’t you?”
And so I pose this same question to all of you out there splashing in the Mermaid Lagoon today. Go on, give it your best, most clever shot.
“Are you at home, or are you at work?”
How would YOU answer?