I went out for a drink last night with a very respected editor who is also a very respected writer. (I had cold-emailed him and he was really very kind and generous both in agreeing to and then throughout the hour and a half we ate cheese together.)
I wanted to ask him about how he made it all work. He said first and foremost I had to negotiate not working five days in the office. At least one day at home.
I felt a little bit better, because I’ve done that.
And then … he didn’t articulate this, so I don’t want to falsely quote him, but the meaning of the more oblique thing he said was clear to me: put your own stuff first. I.e. that day you’re not working in the office–do what ya gotta do. In the morning, before you answer work email, do what ya gotta do.
“I consider myself to be a full-time employee of [the publisher he works for],” he told me.
Because it is true–you don’t turn OFF being an editor when it’s not 9-5. So … it’s not amoral to take blocks of time out of the 9-5 for yourself.
This was a fortifying conversation.