Thursday, October 16, 2014

Joe Berkeley, writer, living the dream

Ever since I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I still love it as much as I did then.
When I was staff, and I would go on a TV shoot in Los Angeles, we would be on location and some down-on-his-luck guy would stumble up to the craft services table trying to grab some free food. Someone on the crew would always sigh, "living the dream!"

There was a world-weary tone of exasperation in the delivery of the line, like this was not the dream, this was a grind and the crew member would do anything to get away from the business. Sadly, there are a lot of jaded people in advertising and production.

But there are also a lot of people out there who are living the dream. This blog is set up for them, for those who celebrate their freedom by living the freelance life to the fullest.

I'm going to feature one freelancer a week, and show what works for them, where they work and provide you with a link to their portfolio.  I'm going to start with me as it would be totally hypocritical to not show you what I do while at the same time asking others to share their professional lives.

I'm a freelance writer. I write advertising, stories, and have a novel and a biography in the works. I live south of Boston in a small seaside town that is 7 miles from the city by water, 23 by land. In the past 10 months, I've freelanced for 18 different clients, won four pitches, one national championship in sailing and published stories in The Boston Globe, Hemmings, and various websites. So far, everyone is happy. Especially me.

My studio is a space above my garage I built when I was still on staff. I knew one day I would be freelance, and I wanted to have a happy place to work. No regrets there.

I work at this desk every day. It was once owned by Ray Welch.
When I shoot a documentary video, I transcribe the audio myself then make a paper cut. It's a lot of work but it's worth it.
The desk where I sit was owned by a great writer, Ray Welch. In 1988, I sat on the other side of the desk and interviewed for a job. Ray said he didn't have a job for me, but he looked at my work. Twelve years later, he sold me the desk and I've been sitting at it ever since. There are stains on it from Ray's Johnnie Walker and my endless cups of tea.

Come over for a drink any time.

Southern wall of studio looking due north.
Fred watches over all. A sculpture by Carol Anthony, he was a gift from Jack Connors.

When the power goes out, the decor is functional.
The conference room part of the studio.
Here is some of the work. The portfolio is at  Yeah, I've done monster budget stuff, but this is what speaks to my soul.
I worked with Commissioner Ed Davis on four campaigns. He's a great leader.

Mort Walker created to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress.
This campaign was a labor of love that raised more than $200,000 for inner city kids.

My favorite ad I ever wrote. All type. No budget. Huge impact.

There are times when I do not have work and I need a break from writing. Below the studio is a shop where I work on side projects, like rebuilding boats.  Busy hands are a good thing. This is retread. Taking care of her is like creating good work, it's all about solving problems. One evening I was working on her when the phone rang. It was Halsey Herreshoff, the grandson of Captain Nat Herreshoff, calling to give me a quote for a Globe story regarding his grandfather's legacy. That was a thrill.
I painted her myself. It was a lot of prep work. Used a roller and tipped it out. Almost as good as Awlgrip.

After all of the restoration work, Dr. Ep and I won the Nationals with a 1, 1, 4, 3, 3, 1, 1.

The Laser is also a good friend for a freelancer in that you can practice and compete alone. I've published a variety of regatta reports in Laser Sailor magazine. They are at
My co-writer, Lance. We always have good meetings.  Photo by

If you want to be featured on my blog, send me a note at  Include some shots of your work space, a link to your work, your visual interpretation of "freelance is good" and anything you think would be interesting to other freelancers. Thanks for reading. Do good work and live a happy, simple life filled with ideas and dreams, free of drama and bullshit.



Alex Pline said...

We NEED to see the BOATS!

joe berkeley said...

Alex, per your request. Joe

Calvin Morrison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calvin Morrison said...

Very informative material! Thank you for sharing with the experience of other writers! I haven't been writing for a long time. I am a beginner in writing. And now I specialize in freelance writing