Thursday, April 09, 2009

The joys of self-employment.

One of the things that I have noticed about self-employment is that, while I get to work my own hours, it also means that public holidays often don't mean a thing except perhaps a mild inconvenience. Case in point: my son's creche is closed today through Tuesday. Friday and Tuesday are my two full writing days in the week, with one half day on Thursday. I know I should just relax and use the time to spend with my family, but I have a deadline and a momentum to keep up.

Luckily for me, husband has taken son away for a few hours. Unluckily for me, who finds it impossible to work at home because of the mountains of housework beckoning, the libraries are all shut today. Luckily, I can always work in a cafe. Unluckily, they are very busy and everything costs 15% more due to the public holiday surcharge. (Incidentally, when I worked in hospitality, before the Employment Contracts Act, we used to get paid extra on weekends and public holidays, but the restaurants and cafes sucked up the extra. Why? Because take a look around: businesses boom on those days. They easily used to make enough extra money to cover the extra wages. I resent places charging me for them to pay their staff fairly when they are pulling in extra anyway.)

For some reason Christchurch cafes seem to more expensive than elsewhere. We long ago stopped going out for weekend brunch when it ended up costing us $50+ for a modest breakfast for two and a fluffy/muffin combo for toddler - add 15% on top of that and there goes our week's food budget. At first I thought it was just the state of everything, food costing more etc, but a return to Wellington proved it was otherwise. It's just Christchurch. Who knows why?

And of course when you are at home with children, it's hard work whether it's a normal day or a holiday. Same with when you're a writer with a deadline.

However, I shall be indulging in more than the usual amount of chocolate and taking the weekend off work.


Bookman Beattie said...

Enjoy the break , normal writing will resume soon.

Unknown said...

Why are Christchurch cafes so expensive?

We have an expensive empire building mayor and council: thus high rates, regulation, the whole palaver, costs which cafes have to cover.

Come the revolution Rachael, when councils go back to the only functions councils should fulfill - basic services provided efficiently at reasonable cost - then you'll be able to brunch again.

(We spend a lot of time in the Marlborough Sounds, and can get a top notch meal at most of the wineries there cheaper than going to Robbies, Speights House, or the cafes in Christchurch. Crazy.)

Rachael King said...

Thanks Mark, that makes sense. I'd be interested to see what rates cafes have to pay in Chch compared to, say, Wellington.

Catherine said...

When we moved to Christchurch from Wellington, the rates on our house were way less than we paid in Wellington, but then that was about twentyfive years ago. The cafes may be dearer here, but I'm always horrified at the cost of public transport, and parking, when we visit Wellington again. The great public transport, libraries etc, are one of the pleasures of living in Christchurch.

Unknown said...

Here's a good comparison, on house rates, not business rates, for a starter.

We have two houses, one in Diamond Harbour, the other in the Mahau Sounds: both houses are roughly the same GV (the Sounds a little higher), yet our rates in Christchurch are over $3,000, while in the Sounds are only $1,400.

Before moving to Christchurch we lived in Geraldine (Timaru Council): again, about the same value house, and again, our rates there were under half what we pay here. Looking at clients books for commercial property in Chch, compared to other centres, this would appear to hold for the commercial sector as well.)

Rachael King said...

Catherine, the public transport in Chch is FANTASTIC. Even the buses are more child friendly as they have wide aisles and you can easily wheel your buggy straight on and park it. Wellington buses may have caught up, I'm not sure. And yes, parking in Wgtn is prohibitive, but I like to think that encourages people to use the public transport, which is still pretty good, especially if you live in Newtown (about 6 routes go through so you never have to wait long). Parking is free in the weekends.

And I have already sung the praises of Chch libraries.

This wasn't meant to be a Welly is better than Chch post! Just discussing what was on my mind, which happened to be breakfast. I genuinely was mystified as to why cafes here are more expensive, but Mark may have answered the question. I guess councils take their money from different sources.

Vanda Symon said...

Chocolate is so good for your soul, and they don't charge a 15% surcharge on it, so I'd just eat more of that.

Maggie May said...

Enjoy your baby and eat lots of chocolate. :)

Catherine said...

Interesting article comparing the price of fish and chips in various centres in the paper the other day. Christchurch was in the middle, Dunedin and Invercargill really cheap, and Nelson topped the list. (You'd think they'd have reasonably priced fish in Nelson)
I have a very soft spot in my heart for both Wellington and Christchurch, having lived half my life in both. So I don't really think either is better, they are just different.

Zen Quill said...

Hi Rachel,

I can totally relate to the inconvenience of public holidays throughout the year. As a shift worker, who writes mostly on days off, my writing routine goes out the window during public holidays - which in QLD usually fall on a Monday. It's so hard to get into a writing routine let alone have it disrupted by change. And it's hard to remain disciplined during those holidays when they come, with family and friends around having a good time! It's hard to not want to join in - and to do so is at the expense of precious writing time. Keeping that momentum can be difficult. I empathise. Hope all is well in your world and the new book is going well.


Lynn said...

And of course it is not a race, or a competition. But we do need something to keep us on track. I am fascinated with the idea of no matter how much time you put aside, the story uncovers itself and its own pace - and this seems to be exactly what is happening with my third. But... I must say, when I realised how far behind (like the tortoise) I was lagging with my deadline (self imposed) - I cancelled my gym and part of my social life (too many book clubs) and made amazing progress once I had decided that is what I needed to do.

I do think though that the time spent thinking about what you will write is impossible to explain to a non-writer - it sounds so "lazy" in a way, like a big excuse.

Last night I had a terrific moment at a special event where in my head I was fictionalising an event occurring and a particular aspect of the event that I was "fictionalising" occurred - I recall reading about Vanda and her elephant and had the same weird if I had caused it.

Ah, but perhaps we take ourselves too seriously - and then again, of course we have to... if we want to write... what a strange occupation.

Good wishes with your novel Rachael.