As an aside, I would caution you about “getting your desperate dreams up” about striking out on your own. This is not an advantageous time to take any sort of plunge along those lines, because funding for the kinds of projects that might get outsourced to people like you was probably the first thing to get frozen.
That's certainly a common assumption, at least. Personally, though, I've been freelancing for a bit over four years now and things don't seem any better or worse for me than usual at the moment. I've also seen a lot of people on the various freelance blogs and such saying that things have really been picking up for them lately - far more than are reporting harder-than-usual times.
That said, though, I expect that tilly's theory is probably correct: If you have an established reputation, things are likely to be getting better. If you don't, you may be left out in the cold if you go for it on your own.