Grace Buckner: Fate, Fight and Freelance

Hello, I’m Grace Buckner, a single mother of a 3-year-old, working from home as a freelance writer for the last two years earning much more than I ever thought was possible about 3 years ago, while managing my household and raising my son Eric at the same time.

A Blissful Life.
Life is full of surprises. As Forrest Gump once said, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. Around 4 years ago, working for a marketing company located in our neighbourhood and cashing in on as many as 5 projects a week, happily married with my husband, Harris and expecting my baby boy, Eric, life for me was about as blissful as it could’ve been. I had been pregnant for only about 4 months and we had it all figured out. I had taken an unpaid maternity leave but that wasn’t going to be a problem because Harris was working for this very successful IT firm and had just bagged yet another promotion. The plan was to take about half a year’s maternity leave after Eric was born while Harris would continue to bring in the bucks. Then we could get childcare when Eric was 6-months and I could re-join at my company as before. Everything was set for us and that’s when tragedy struck.

Trouble comes calling.
Harris was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. Doctors said there was a tumour in his medulla oblongata, spreading rapidly. Radiotherapy would be too risky with the tumour spreading throughout the brain and chemo wouldn’t be effective anymore. In short, it was terminal and there was nothing we could do. The doctors weren’t sure but they said Harris had somewhere between 3 to 6 months to live. We were devastated. Eric was still 5 months due. Harris decided we needed the money and chose to keep working instead of a bedrest. We lost him 3 months later. With two
months still left for my delivery, it seemed as if my whole world was turned upside down. Everything was falling apart. I had just lost my greatest support in life.

For two months, I sunk in depression and pondered over the dark future. Mom kept visiting me on weekends but she had her own business to run and lived a long way away. Two months later, Eric was born. The doctor recommended a year’s leave. With Harris working, I could only afford six. Now that he was no more and I had no work, a whole year’s leave was not an option. I didn’t have that kind of money. I started panicking at the end of 3 months. My employers had already started asking me to re-join. They kept sending several attractive projects my way and it was
getting more and more difficult to turn those down. I feared that continuous refusals would be very harmful to my career and sooner or later they were bound to look for alternatives.

Back on the Grind.
So, against my doctor’s advice, I decided to re-join when Eric was 4 months old. I figured I’d take it easy in the beginning. Maybe stick to a project a week until Eric got a little older and his breast-feeding days were done. In the beginning, things turned out fine. I could only work when Eric slept but he slept about 6-7 hours everyday so, it was a good deal of time for me. I’d feed him at an interval of about 2 hours each
and put him to sleep again. The routine obstructions to my workflow were of course not optimal but it was better than nothing. I’d started to pull off two projects a day by the time Eric was 6 months and things were going really well. But that’s when things
turned sour once more

My Lowest Point.
Once Eric was around 7 months old and off his breast-feeding days, he wouldn’t sleep for more than 2 hours a day and this reduced my work time drastically. It was almost impossible to work when he was awake as he’d either be crying, waddling down the floor or putting things into his mouth. At first, I started to work late at nights. But with no rest during the day, juggling between Eric, household chores, and relatively little sleep at night was a schedule that soon started to take a toll on me. I was now failing to submit even one project by the end of a week and repeatedly missing my deadlines. The company had also given me two performance notices by now and I feared things were really getting out of hand. It seemed like the lowest point of my life.

The thought of hiring a nanny for Eric so that I could go to work filled me with guilt. I felt as if I was trying to rid myself of my little baby. Plus, I doubted I’d be able to manage enough funds to pull off childcare at this time. One day, by the time Eric was about a year old, I visited a nearby gym for a change. I hadn’t taken a membership or anything. It was a one-time-thing, a mood-freshener.

A Ray of Hope.
Remember how I said, life was a box of chocolates and you were never sure what to expect. Well, the fun part is, if you keep grinding long enough, sometimes, just like bad things, even good ones are bound to come your way. I met Margaret in the gym, my new neighbour and mother to a young baby just like mine, who was freelancing from home and pulling in a great deal of money.

She introduced me to this website for jobs – where you would simply have to make a profile, fill in your personal details, put up your resume and eager clients would soon reach you via email or the site itself with projects which you could accept or refuse at your own discretion.

The prospect was quiet exciting for me because I had been stuck at the company, I had been working for, for quite a while now and they had been very unfriendly about my situation. There was also no freedom about the kind of projects you could choose for yourself and you’d have to make do with whatever stuff they sent your way. I, for example, had always been interested in creative writing for the media business whereas the company would keep sending me these so-called “marketing projects” asking me to write down the same-old SEO friendly adverts for some random clients for a very insignificant pay. There were no other companies of the kind in my area and relocating was out of the option, especially with the tight pocket I had at the time. So, along with the fact that managing Eric and working was a very difficult balance to strike, I also disliked the kind of work I did and the amount of freedom I had. The constant warnings and notices were getting on my nerves as well. Therefore, when Margaret told me about and those benefits, I decided to give it a try. At this point, with life punching me in the guts and my pocket slimmer than ever, I had nothing to lose.

New Beginnings.
The decision changed everything for me. As soon as I put in my healthy resume with around 7 years of work experience up on my profile, offers started coming to me within a week. At first, they were scanty, around 2-3 every week and pretty underwhelming for my standards. However, by the end of the first month, I’d already landed my first assignment. It was a detailed review of a newly released sitcom for a popular local newspaper. Thanks to fact that I could set my own deadlines and decide my own workflow, the project gave me an incredible degree of flexibility. I did not have to report to my superior with my progress at the end of every single day, unlike my company projects, and had a more relaxed time of it. This allowed me to manage my time between Eric and the work much better. The pay was also substantially greater with the absence of commissions and any middlemen, unlike my company from before. I had finished my first assignment within a week and a half and thoroughly enjoyed it. By the time I finished the second, my mind was made. I left my company job as an advert writer and began freelancing full time.
Margaret was a very helpful guide for me initially but I soon figured out the nooks and crannies of the procedure myself. Within half a year, I’d finished around ten projects, refurbished my profile with a thicker and much more attractive resume and made quite a reputation for myself with the new star rating system being introduced.

The client pool at was much larger with whole country able to access my potential services as opposed to the very local reach of my previous employer.

Master of my Fate.
Soon enough, as Eric grew old, things got even more easier. I had totally adjusted myself to the experience by the time he was two. Today, a year later, Eric is 3-years old and just joined the best play school in our neighbourhood. I’ve hired a nanny for her because now I can afford it easily and it leaves me even more time for my work. I’m working from home around 8-10 hours a day now, but there’s no pressure because I do it of my own accord and can cut down upon it whenever I feel exhausted. At present, I handle around 10 projects a week and hope to expand my
practice further in the future. Margaret and I are best friends now and we visit the gym to socialise daily. She’s been doing really well as well. I wish Harris were here today. He’d be very proud to have seen me this way especially after how terrible things had gotten after he left us.
Never give up and always look for opportunities when you’re down and out. Keep grinding, your lucky break could just be around the corner. And try out for the most flexible and authentic WFH experience, where you’re your own master and your success is judged by your performance only and nothing else. No discrimination, no prejudice.