Being recently unemployed, I was faced with a quandary. Do I find a job, or do I go back to school?
Getting a job in my town has always been a struggle. Nineteen years ago it was a struggle, well before the dips and dives in the economy. School was an attractive alternative to fighting over scraps. I went to the WorkMore office, a non-profit resource for the unemployed. Lovely people work there and they try to help.
I went to a class on how to keep unemployment benefits and go to school. I felt that my situation wouldn’t qualify but it was worth me spending an hour to find out. The class left me feeling as though I was correct about my supposition, but then the teacher told me he’d make me an appointment with a woman who was a writer and “knew more about these things.” A slender hope, but when you’re in the water, you don’t judge the rope you’re thrown.
The woman, who I’ll call Maggie, was a short, feminine powerhouse of personality. She was stone confident in herself, and seemed pleasant enough.
Maggie listened to my plans, to become an author and to become an editor, and she promptly discarded them. “You’d have to move. Are you sure you don’t want to become a nurse?”
I was staggered. Why would I want to become a nurse? I mean, it is a growth industry, but it’s never been my calling. Maggie threw my calling to the ground and stomped on it.
I didn’t argue with her. I was there on the hope that I could get some help from the state about my unemployed status. I’m getting handouts until I can find a job, after all. Why would my feelings about my job matter? I just nodded and contributed a little to the conversation, waiting out the storm.
In years past I would have wilted under her onslaught. I would have talked to her about nursing, even though my heart wouldn’t have been in it. I would have capitulated, just to get into school, just to do something to change my life.
But I realized.. I’m already changing my life. I already have a job. It doesn’t work like we consider jobs to work – it’s not 9-5, and it’s not paying me. Yet. But I’m putting the work in. I work far more hours than a simple 9-5 job. I am always considering, tweaking, reading, researching, and agonizing over what to do next. I take time out for my family after work and school, but as soon as my son goes to bed I’m back at work again. I’ve never worked this hard in my life.
And I love it. It doesn’t feel like work, not the way I always understood work to feel. I get to make decisions for myself; I don’t have to check in with a supervisor. I don’t get assigned tasks, I go and find out what to do next. I don’t have upper management frowning at me because I have an idea; I just implement it.
The hard part is making money. A lot of people are better writers than me, better known, with backers and recognition and years of experience. But they all started somewhere.
I may not be famous yet, but I do have faith that I can tell a good story. I have learned a lot about writing books in the past six years. Knowing what I know now, I wish I could have done things differently, but I wouldn’t want to change a thing. I’ve learned so much and I’ve grown so much as a writer. Now more than anything, I want to get my book out there so I can start on the next one, and just keep doing what I love.
And if I have to take a job to support my writing habit… to me, it just means not giving up, no matter what.