10 February 2010

Half-term report

So, here I am nearly halfway through my stint at the major meeja outlet. I had a bit of a half-term assessment with one of my mentors today so now seems as good a time as any to take stock a bit of what's going on in my crazy freelance world.

Personal stuff
I've been quite shocked at how seamlessly I've slipped back into the persona of a "proper working person", by which I mean wage-slave. It took me about a week to get used to setting the alarm clock and getting up to it, racing out of the door to catch a bus and doing that whole commuter "thing" (although I've been infuriated at the number of people who refuse to give me the priority disabled bus seat I'm entitled to simply because they can't see my disability and my high heels nonpluss them so much they clearly think I'm lying even while I'm waving my concessionary pass in their faces). I've obviously been loafing it far too much over the last 5 or 6 years as a home-based freelance, despite the fact that fear of not having money to pay the rent and go out for a pint is the greatest motivation a freelance can have to generate work. I think I've long since proved I don't have to go out to work to be a productive member of society but it's been good to revisit the practice for the self-discipline. And, if I'm honest, I've enjoyed the company. Working from home can be lonely. I get out as much as I can and socialise online during the day, too, but what I've really appreciated is being (and feeling) part of a team again - it's been great to have others to bounce ideas off and hone them. It's made me rediscover some of my mojo and restored my confidence in my ability to generate great ideas and sell them to others.

What they say
Well, it all seems to be FTW for me at the moment! Right from week 1, I was getting good feedback great compliments to my face about what I was doing. (I have had to hold that ego well in check.) The nicest was being told that the producer is so chuffed with me she's happy to just let me get on with stuff despite being a control freak (I hadn't noticed that, actually, but I couldn't ask for better faith in me). They are also really delighted with my ideas, my range of contacts and my eye for a fresh angle on old topics. The compliments must go in both directions - the producer has been fab at ensuring that when my ideas have been passed on to other shows I've had credit for them. I think I'll be buying her a bottle of pink fizz come end of March.

But I did worry that, despite all the promises, I'd end up spending the whole 3 months generating cosy features for one programme only and not getting the opportunity to learn actual new skills. Halfway in, I started to really panic that this would be my fate - don't get me wrong, I'm really enjoying what I've done so far but it's stuff I already do, just in a different medium. At today's meeting I decided to be proactive and ask for the training I'm supposed to be getting. Result - I'll be starting it before the end of the week.

I've also been itching to do the organisation's social media stuff for them - it's in poor shape right now. In early January, there was a vague promise about this too but nothing materialised. So today I just demanded they give me the Twitter password and let me run the feed for a month. I promised I'd build a massive following (actually I promised to more than double it), create the conversations that simply do not exist right now at all (because the feed follows only one person back), generate news stories and features from it and drive audience. A bold boast but one I'm very confident I can deliver. I'll either get the password on Friday or be told to FOAD politely...

The best thing I heard today, apart from getting the go-ahead to run a major cross-platform social history project across the organisation, was that I'll definitely be offered freelance work beyond March and that I'd probably be offered a freelance contract if I can get to grips with all the techy radio stuff and shine there.

The lame bit
I'm having a real, live office crush. Oh, the shame! For the last few years, my office crush has been on the boy. Now, there's a human to contend with. I was toying with asking him out for a drink after a promising early conversation or two. But I'm being blanked this week and after I said "hi" to him in the canteen when I unexpectedly found myself next to him in the queue, he muttered a feeble response and stomped off. I think that one's best forgotten.

Office politics
It was inevitable that they'd rear their head at some point. I've been very careful to walk a studiedly neutral line over the last 6 weeks. I've been privy to some office gossip, of course, but never pried or made any comments remotely suggestive of where my views might lie regarding anyone in this workplace or even on the organisation itself. Despite my (for me) extreme caution, I still managed to get caught up in internal politics. A couple of years ago I took part in a studio TV debate on regional media and last week was asked to return to the topic and review the situation now. My "boss" cleared me to go off filming for an afternoon for the TV show, but that night when I got home a call from the TV show's producer revealed my participation had been vetoed by someone much higher up in the department I'm in right now. I've deliberately said nothing since then. My "boss" didn't bat an eyelid when I carried on working in the office yesterday instead of going out. He surely knew, though. I'm disappointed but I want to make the most of my current opportunity without pissing anyone off (I know, I know, this is most out of character for me) so I'm gritting my teeth and riding this out. The TV will manage without me (grr!) but there will be other chances. In the meantime, my current job has priority...