The start of term!

It feels like the start of term.

As you probably all know, I don’t have a proper job. I get paid to do my hobby, and as a freelancer, I work from home.

In a typical week, I might go into London two or three times for tastings, lunches, dinners or interviews, and then spend two or three days of the week holed up in my study, trying to catch up on the mound of work that I have facing me. And then some weeks I am travelling, one of the aspects of my ‘job’ that I most enjoy.

But over the school holidays, I try to be at home as much as possible, for the sake of the family. I don’t travel, and I restrict my trips into town to the bare minimum. So the summer break does seem like quite a long one. Now both boys are back at school (as of today), I’m back into the swing of things.

Tomorrow I’m heading into London for the first time in ages, and it really does feel like the start of term.

Some more comments on freelancing.

1. One of the challenges is making sure that enough money is coming in, while not being so commercially minded that the joy is stripped out of work. So I balance the good-paying gigs that perhaps aren’t as interesting with those gigs that pay badly (or not at all) but are intellectually stimulating. If I get the balance wrong I go broke, or I become stale.

2. Along those lines, you have to make a lot of judgements about what is truly valuable. There are some people who write about wine who seem to act like parasites on the industry. They self-promote tirelessly, they take, they take some more, and they never give back. I am not in this field to get rich; I want to be able to support myself, while at the same time making some sort of a difference.

3. If money is your only concern in writing about wine, you’ll end up supporting the bad guys at the expense of the good guys. I want the good guys to win, and if I can help in some small way, I will. Some of the most worthwhile winegrowers can’t hire PR companies, have no marketing budget and don’t send out samples. Should wine writers ignore them?

4. It is much more rewarding earning money as a freelancer than it is being paid a salary. Every time you get a cheque for doing some work it feels good. A salary cheque feels like an entitlement.

[The gratuitous picture at the top of this post is of the Bannockburn region of New Zealand’s Central Otago. The Mount Difficulty winery is visible, as are the rather ugly looking slucings – a relic from the 19th century gold mining industry, when the hillside was deliberately washed away by carefully directed water channels.]

2 comments to The start of term!

  • Tom Bexton

    Nice one Jamie; I’m still a wine student, but when I get into the trade I hope I can be in a position like yourself where (whatever I’m doing) will not be for the money but giving genuine and truthful winemakers, growers and vineyard owners a chance to get their wines noticed and appreciated.
    I know a man in the trade who said “Tom, you will never be rich, but you will be very happy poor”. I look forward to that!

  • Tom, you should spend your time doing something you believe in – totally agree

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