A 4-letter word for “self-employed?”

IMG_0143I knew that starting my own marketing and copywriting business would be very hard and all-consuming. I knew it was coming and I was ready for it. Hey, I’m all in!

And I knew I’d have to sacrifice certain benefits of being employed by someone else — little perks, like healthcare coverage and a salary. But nobody prepared me for the ultimate sacrifice of going independent. Nobody told me I’d have to give up my secret love, my passion, my raison d’etre.

How am I to go on knowing she’s out there, wondering where I am, waiting for me to hold her in my loving hands, focusing intently on her every word? How can I explain this to my soulmate, my darling for over 30 years. My Crossword Puzzle.

Almost daily for three decades, I’ve started each day with a crossword puzzle. I do them at home. I do them at work — on company time, I confess! I do them at the gym. In front of the TV. On the couch. At the dinner table. On plane trips. In cabs. In my sleep!

My Crossword is an obsession, my illicit mistress. Will Shortz, crossword editor of the NY Times, is the proverbial, heartless pimp. Delivering daily doses of mind-bending ecstasy right to my in-box. And yes, I pay for it!

Oh, by the way, my wife knows all about this affair — and approves of it! In fact, she has her own relationship with Crossword puzzles. Needless to say, we have a very open relationship.

The problem is this: My new life as a self-employed businessperson demands more discipline, time and focus than I’ve ever had to give. I can’t justify the daily dalliance with the Times puzzle. It feels like a decadent use of time, when I should be attending to business. I’ll start them, but force myself to stop after a designated time period. (Four hours a day doesn’t seem excessive, right?)

Seriously, I’ve been actually leaving my beloved puzzle in mid grid. Half-naked. Unfulfilled. Wanting more. It’s only been a few weeks. But I can’t see the situation getting any better. If I have to choose between my work and my puzzle, there’s really no choice.

Can I survive on weekend puzzles alone? Will that feel like a methadone program, a little taste to get me by? Will I have to go cold turkey? Is there a Crosswords Anonymous meeting here in town?

I really wasn’t ready for this. All I have left is a four-letter word for “self-employed.”

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