This always makes my day.

At 11:25 am or maybe 3:40 pm, I’m at the keyboard. I am ass-deep in some huge assignment that will last a week or two. (Or, I’m ass-deep in procrastinating, depending.)

The phone rings. My client Kathleen.

She tells me something has just happened in the insurance world. Some government move, some numbers released, some huge lawsuit. It affects her clients.

She says, “We have to issue an advisory on this.”

So we talk for ten, fifteen minutes, trying to find the story. What is the big idea? What’s the hook? How do we explain this? What should clients do now? How can we help?

We hang up. I forget the big-ass assignment for now. I start pacing the floor. (In truth, I’m not fascinated by this insurance crisis at all. But I’m jazzed that Kathleen called me. I feel like the electrician arriving when the power is out.)

Then I begin typing.

Maybe an hour later, I send her seven tight paragraphs. Kathleen says, “Okay, I’ll tweak two things, and we’ll go.”

Ninety-four minutes from courting to conception to birth.

Now, no matter how the rest of the day goes, I’m happy. I’ve chopped and stacked, I’ve laid the brick. I have delivered for the day. It’s not some pretend ‘milestone’, not a happy check-mark on a to-do list.

I actually put one out there, for real. I built one, then shipped it. And I got my rate. The day is good.

A week, ten days later, in the mail is a check for $225.

It makes no economic sense whatsoever, but this $225 feels better than the fat check for the big-ass project with its nine meetings and four drafts over three weeks. That shows up long after everything’s over, and it’s swallowed up by bills and crap. It is remote and distant compensation on paper.

But this small check, this small job, clarifies everything. It’s what I do, rendered small enough to see and feel in my hand.

I built this, got that. Client liked it.

And now, there’s a nice dinner out.