Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Squeaking By


Yowsa. Just as I was finding my blogging mojo (post here, comment there, click on the link, catch up over there, leave (hopefully) witty comment on other end…lather, rinse and repeat), I somehow find myself falling behind again.

Do I post? Sacrifice the scheduled post and visit as many of my sweet commenters as possible? But then, do I read back completely to catch up on the posts I’ve missed at their place? And then do I comment on each and every one so they know I’ve read ‘em?? Poor Kristy…she probably thinks I’ve totally blown her off…I know she mentioned gifting me a lovely award at her place…and the thoughts swirl around and around again.

I’m not sure how many of you are aware that I am a freelance writer. I also consult for an agency that works with special education preschoolers. I have no fulltime job, no medical benefits…no job security.

I write…and I believe I write well. When freelance work comes my way, I also jump. This last assignment was a doozie…and it was all about, guess what? Unemployment. How to increase your chances for landing a job. One of my biggest, most involved, most labor-intensive piece ever. And depressing? Fuggetaboutit.

I have steadfastly, stubbornly held onto the belief that there’s a career out there for me that will allow me to do what I love to do….in the industry I’ve come to adore. My freelance work has been steady…and I’m fortunate enough to be regularly asked to contribute pieces. Between this and my hustling to procure other online freelance work…combined with my consulting, it’s certainly more than a part-time job would pay…but it’s not the coveted fulltime…with benefits....and at least some security. Realize that I love having all those mini balls in the air...a different subject each time I begin a new piece...with every finished article my newest little bundle of joy.

I'm at an agonizing crossroads. My business background goes too far back…my son’s autism left no time for any more than part-time and endless volunteerism for many years. I’ve learned that part-time is still better than none….but how was I to know that my true passion wouldn’t reveal itself until a mere six years ago? I'm clinging to the hope that my future hangs in my ability to convey thoughts, feelings and information through the written word....something I can do now...not something I did in an office a lifetime ago.

I’m not loopy enough to think I’ll make my living authoring the next great American novel…although I, like many others here in Blogville, have begun a project that will undoubtedly take years to complete. (Oh, yeah...the history of Kathrynville is out there, people. Be afraid....be very afraid.)

I guess the big question for me is: Should I sacrifice my love of writing and relegate it to a hobby…to be visited for an hour or so a day in favor of something more...traditional? Am I kidding myself in hanging onto what may be nothing more than a naive, distant dream? Or is there something out there that I’m…missing?

Networking seems to be the ultimate key to finding the information that we seek. And who better to understand my love of writing than all of you? I can think of no better source for this question:

What would you do? What did you do? What should I do? I'm asking you.

Dreamfarm Girl said...

OH Kathryn, don't do it! Don't give up the dream. I am just about ready to quit my day job so I can have the life you are leading and I have this notion that it is going to be wonderful. So I suppose it is terribly unfair to ask you not to quit this life for stability and health care just so I can keep admiring you, because I will anyway (duh!) but seriously, I do hope you are able to stay with what you love doing. You are so talented and if you are able to make a living at it, even if it's not a pathway to riches, you should keep at it. It's who you are. (And it may lead to riches anyway. And at least it isn't being stuck in a meaningless 9-5 you hate!)

Christiejolu said...

Wow you have my dream job working with special education preschoolers...That is what I am working towards...I read once..Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life...I don't know where it came from...But it is what I am trying to live my life by...I started going to school for nursing...But knew how much I love children and teaching I changed my major...Do what you love always!

One Woman's Thoughts said...

You've touched on the center stage balancing act that we humans juggle.
I enjoy your writing and I say . . . get up in the morning and do what makes you happy. Do what you cannot NOT stop doing. That is your calling. Write for yourself, keep the honeypot and the bees will come.

Mom of many said...

My answer is here... http://parentingspecialkindofcrazy.blogspot.com/

Good luck!

Straight Guy said...

No easy answers, K. I've seen both sides here. I know folks who regret not following a passion... And know others who stuck with a dream for too long and missed other stuff along the way (like basic independence).

Give yourself a shot (or 3 or 4). But stay self aware. If you begin to doubt yourself, look around here and remember that 600+ followers don't appear out of nowhere and certainly don't hang around for no reason. You're obviously very good at this.

If only we could all monetize all the things that we love doing

j.m. neeb said...

I just lost the world's longest comment... *sighs, hangs his head in shame, reaches for the booze (Cloudy, natch), etc.*

I think my points were: Follow your heart, Kathryn. I always enjoy reading your blog. I do not EVER enjoy my 8 to 5 corporate gig. I'm working on my own escape plan, because if you don't like something in life you need to do something about it. (But that's a bit more about me than you... which isn't the point.) It is tough to strike a balance with all that is entailed -- writing, reading, commenting -- with the little blogosphere.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. It was really written much better the first time around.

Actually, The New York Times hailed it as "the single most important comment in the history of mankind." The Washington Post said "John's writing is simply brilliant. If we could give him a Pulitzer for that comment, we totally would." And the Holland Sentinel noted "The water temperature in Lake Michigan is currently 72 degrees."

p.s. Also, I appreciate it when you stop by the Ducks! :)

Straight Guy said...

I'm rooting for you.

Lauren said...

Go for it! If I could work at writing I would do it in a heartbeat. At the very least, keep it as a ball in the air. I think you have more than enough proof that writing is something that you're fantastic at. What will you regret if you do or don't do it?

I would read any novel you wrote!

Heather said...

Not sure what to say..I have no dreams, goals, aspirations, future plan and definately no benifits.

Because you do have these, makes you ahead in this thing we call life, even though following your dream doesn't always provide you with the luxuries, at least you are actually doing it.

I hope you got something out of that. I'm confused already!

Gigi said...

I wish I could see the future and tell you exactly what to do. But, sadly, I can't.

I will say this, if you feel secure enough doing what you are currently doing - then keep at it. It is what you love. No guts, no glory, yada-yada.

No matter what you decide, I've got your back and support you 100%. But you know that.

kathryn said...

Dreamfarm Girl: Aw, honey! I hear you loud and clear. I realize that it's the rare person who actually earns their living doing what they love. Maybe I feel guilty thinking I've got the right to try and be one of them. External circumstances held me back from F/T for many years...but now it's up to me. I've been wanting to know how others here feel about writing F/T and if anyone actually does it. My heart aches at the thought of a workday without creative writing...and it leaps with joy at the thought of legitimately, (with fiscal responsibility writing every day...all day! Thank you for being honest w/me, sweetie. and no, you're not being unfair to me in conveying your opinion (and your own desires for yourself!) to me. It's what I wanted to hear. I'm hoping that someday in the very near future, we can both follow our dream! Thanks for the lovely comment.

Anonymous said...

DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR DREAMS! I realize that's easier said than done. I'm working a day job (sales) while I pursue my dreams and it sucks! You only live once and you're doing it. Keep on believing!

kathryn said...

Christiejolu: I think I remember you're saying you were working towards a special-education career. It takes a very special person to do what you want to do. I know from my own son how trying it can be and how much patience it can require to work with and understand the needs of these little ones. My way of staying involved w/the people who helped my son in preschool was to help them coordinate programs so parents had a safe place to send their kids on weekends so the parents could regroup and rest. I'll tell you from a parent's perspective: We can always tell the people who honestly care about helping our children. You GO girl...I'm damn proud of you! Some school will be lucky to have you.

Gay Guy said...

Kathryn,

What you loyal fans want is for you to do it all! Blog, depose Great Gatsby as the great American novel, bring in some income, and tend to your family. We need you as much as you need income! Too bad blogging is such a slow way to become a millionaire.

Your description of a blogger's life -- writing, responding to comments, reading blogs, commenting, not to mention maintaining friendships online, sound familiar to say the least. It's time-consuming, but rewarding.

kathryn said...

One Woman's Thoughts: "Keep the honeypot and the bees will come." I don't think I've ever heard that expression...but I certainly get the gist of it. I'm consistently amazed by the powerful internal struggle I feel when I try to logically list pros and cons of something as emotional and...primal as this desire to keep writing. Then the emotions take over and I wonder if I'm being irresponsible in not "sucking it up" and getting a "real job". Does that make any sense? Ironic, since I would (and often do) work my ass off to meet deadlines and provide the best end product I possibly can. I work nights, weekends, whenever. I appreciate your words of support...and I'm really hoping those bees will keep coming!

kathryn said...

Mom of many: Wow. Your honest and heartfelt post blew me away. How kind of you to devote your time to formulating a post http://parentingspecialkindofcrazy.blogspot.com/ on my very dilemma! I'm honored....and you've given me great food for thought. I'd truly like to believe there's got to be a middle of the road somewhere out there...(even in this stinkin' economy) where one can be of value to a company by virtue of loving what they do so much that they're willing to work twice as hard to do it well. You'd think it would be a win/win, right?

kathryn said...

Straight Guy: Thank you, my friend. I realize there are no easy answers...and what's right for one may not be for another. It's extremely helpful though, to hear other people's perspectives...and their friend's experiences...since it's an internal battle played out universally by so many.

"If only we could all monetize all the things that we love doing"...you have nailed it here, my friend.

If only it were this simple:
Guy#1: "Can you do this?"
Guy#2: "Why, yes I can. Here it is."
Guy#1: "Wow. You're hired."

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Thanks for the feedback, SG. I will absolutely make sure to stay self-aware. I'd rather not wind up in that pile of "others" who missed out on something along the way...

kathryn said...

j.m. neeb: Okay. I can't type when I'm busy wiping my eyes...which won't stop tearing from laughing....(looks around for a tissue...settles for swiping her eyes on the bottom of her tank top, giving her monitor a quick flash.) Good thing I work from home at times like this.

Haven't you sometimes wanted to copy every comment before hitting "publish"...on that off chance you might lose the Pulitzer-prize-winning one? Especially YOU, my friend...where virtually every one falls into that category? (Yes, I know that's what you were gonna say.) And yet, this one you forgot. We'll have to trust the Times and the Post and the Sentinel that you've once again managed to single-handedly make the bar that much higher for writers everywhere...even the ones doing the limbo under said bar in the balmy 72-degree waters of Lake Michigan. But I digress. (Actually, YOU digressed...but it was hilarious, so I'll allow it.)

To recap: Follow my heart. Reading blogs is more enjoyable than most 8-5 gigs. Work to escape something you don't like. Got it. How did you get to be so wise??

kathryn said...

Lauren: Aw. Thank you, sweetie. I shall hold to you that promise of the cost of one book sale. (At a discount, of course.) The whole issue is about separating the wants from the rest of the world's reality, I think. I'm trying to be responsible and stay grounded in reality...while still fighting for something that, as statistics show, cannot usually sustain someone financially. Does that make any sense? Believe me...I totally want to go for it!

ValleyWriter said...

I am incredibly fortunate to have a full-time writing gig w/benefits. It also comes with corporate BS headaches - but most days, I wouldn't give it up for anything other than... freelancing. Wanna trade? Just kidding.

Seriously - if you can make it work - Do IT! There's no sense in spending the majority of your waking hours doing something you don't like if you can avoid it (I realize not everyone is lucky enough to have a choice).

One last thought - in the last couple of years, I've watched people lose their jobs who never thought they would. "Job security" seems like a distant notion or at least one that hangs precariously in the balance - even for us full-timers...

kathryn said...

Heather: Aw, honey! You DO TOO have dreams, goals and aspirations....your wonderful hubby, your amazing grandkids, your crazy family! We all have something we want...and I'm not hellbent on the luxuries...unless you consider writing full-time to be one, which I believe it may very well be. Although, maybe the full-time writers don't think so. Now, there's some food for thought. And YES, I DID get something out of your comment. (Besides the fact that you were sweet, kind and funny.)

kathryn said...

Gigi: Wow. I know I keep telling you this but you're just so. freakin. wise. I DO wish you'd get that Magic-8 ball fixed, though. It's so nice to have an informed, backup to all our important decisions...

I love it: "No guts, no glory, yada-yada." Funny, I don't remember that last part in ANY speech. Maybe my DV-R cut out early. I hate when that happens.

And honey? For the record? Just 'cause you can't see the future does NOT MEAN you can't tell somebody what to do. I'm just saying...

xoxo bberry bff

kathryn said...

Anonymous: Hey, sweetie! Said like someone who's living in the trenches...and SURVIVING, as well. I'm TRYING....but sometimes, I'm afraid my thinking is turning into a Lifetime Movie of the Week....and you know as well as I do that we HATE THOSE!

I WILL BE BRAVE. I WILL HAVE HOOTSPA. (Even if I spelled it wrong, I will still have it, dammit.) I just don't wanna be a Lifetime movie. Promise me that...

Wendy Blum said...

Kathryn, I wish I could help you. However, I cannot. At least not with your career endeavors. You see, I am stuck in a dead-end job at a warehouse where I am considered part time without benefits. I get 39.75 hours per week. That's what the "big timers" call part time. Dumbest thing I ever heard. And with so many at the top of the heap, I may never see full time or benefits. That's a Union for ya.
So...I will be 39 in August and still don't have a career or any hopes of one. Ever. NO idea what I'd become if I had the money/time any way.
That sad tale aside, I CAN wish you the best of luck with whatever comes into your life. If writing is your passion, and you have a desire to pursue it into something more fulfilling, I have no doubt that you will succeed. You've won me over with your blog. And I tend to be one tough customer about what I read :)
BEST OF LUCK Kathryn! Wish I could give you more...

kathryn said...

Gay Guy: You make it sound so simple. I mean, 4 concrete things....I should be able to do that, right?

If only. God willing. From your mouth. It's not easy, dammit.

Honestly? There's this teeny voice in my head that says that you're supposed to suffer through your workday. That it's what the majority of the world does. It's hard not to listen to it sometimes.

(And for the record, it is not Clinton Kelly (my IV) saying it. HE'S the one that keeps saying, "Do what you love and you'll do it well and the $$ will follow." To which I usually reply, "Yeah. Easy for YOU to say.")

And yes, GG...the blogiverse is a wonderful, rewarding, captivating place...filled with some amazing, fabulous people. It's also an internet Bermuda Triangle.

Thanks so much for the comment.

kathryn said...

ValleyWriter: Wow. You're right, of course. These days, "job security" may be considered an oxymoron. But, I hope not...for all those fortunate enough to be hanging in there through these tough times.

I often wonder: Are writers any different from other professions when it comes to landing a full-time paying gig? I mean, are there people who say, "I was a freelance botanist and now I've fulfilled my dream of doing it...with benefits!" I wonder...is there more passion for employment in the arts, or is it across the board?

I agree that you are incredibly fortunate...but how can I envy you when you already know how lucky you are? So, I shall live vicariously through you...until I can do it for myself. Sound fair?

kathryn said...

Wendy Blum: Oh, sweetie...I'm not looking for some magic answer to all my worries here. It just helps to hear others' stories...what they do, how they feel about it, how they cope. Exactly as you've done. Everyone has their own battles/demons/hardships...we all know this. The trick (I think) is finding the compromise that you can live with. The professor of economics that I interviewed said that, on avg, we change jobs every 7 years. So, who's to say there's no career/passion in your future? I just found mine 6 years ago! Never say never! And I'm so glad I've "won you over"...it's an honor and a privilege to be read by you.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I've never had a job, and I've never had to support anybody, so I wouldn't know that kind of pressure...But I'd stick with what I love. At the end of the day, I don't want to be miserable and rich. I want to be happy and poor. If giving up writing as a background noise rather than the earplugs blasting in your ears at full volume, I'd rather go with the earplugs. Who cares if I'm deaf by the end of it?

Sorry, bad analogy, but I'd stick with what I love.

Gigi said...

Just had to pop back into this conversation because I had a thought (not because I'm so wise or anything - just because random crap flies into my head at random moments, ya know, like when I'm standing in line for a ride in the blazing heat at a theme park) - if the benefits, being paid a full-time wage, etc. thing is really bothering you - have you thought of looking into some of these large companies? I know mine has a "Communications" Dept. where they put out a quarterly magazine, among other things. One of my friends - whose dream is photography - just got a job in that dept and is happy as a pig in mud. She gets to play/work with her craft & she gets paid & gets benefits.....just a thought. xoxoxo

Lauren said...

Makes sense, but there are many ways of being grounded in reality. And if you aren't working toward your dreams, what are you working toward. Yeah... I'm young... But you're clearly a writer. So write. You never know. You could be the lucky one in the whole statistics gamble. What creative writer was ever good at math anyway? Write for you. Even if you don't get published. I have three novels sitting in my closet that I will never publish but I wrote them for me. And I'm perfectly happy about that! So go for it!

f8hasit said...

Benefits from a full time job WOULD be nice, but don't do it unless you are challenged by the position. I have a friend that absolutely HATES his job (editor magazine) and is really a writer (good one too) but is fearful of leaving the security of his job for his dream. He's miserable.

Follow the dream. The rest will work itself out. I'm sure of it!
:-)

Runnergirl said...

Thank you for the comments on my blog...
I think you are a great writer, blogwise and I would love to read some of your other stuff. I don't think you should relegate it to a hobby if it's something you love doing, why not get paid for it, even if it isn't full time?

You keep telling us to go for what we want in life - take your own advice?!

John McElveen said...

kathryn, My dear, The day YOU let go...WE Let go too! So, NO PRESSURE!!!! Hang on, and we can ALL help each other Hang on at different times.....

Gotcher Back...Write on!

John

Alicia said...

I've thought long and hard about what words of wisdom to give to you dear Kathryn. What advice I could give you that would ease your troubles and the only thing I can think of is...when you figure all this out, can you please share it with me? Cause I haven't got a clue! Sorry

Wendy Blum said...

Every 7 years, huh? Well, I have a loooong road ahead, LOL! In 7 years I will be 46!! Can't I just fall over from exhaustion then?! My career could be mattress tester in some furniture shop. Tiresome, boring career. But hey, I think my eyelids are up for that challenge ;)

Jerry said...

I figure that no one can really answer this question. We don't understand your financial situation and the stuff you need to accomplish that usually takes money.

I can say without hesitation that your writing is a gift of the gods and I think they would be pretty pissed off if you squandered it. So whatever you end up doing, always write. I wish that I could read some of your freelance work.

You are a treasure Kathryn -- and I...we are privileged that you are willing to share bits of yourself with us.

kathryn said...

Oddyoddyo13: I totally get what you're saying, sweetie. How wonderful it is that you know what you want....or, more importantly who you are at such a young age! Yes, you ARE a writer...I can only assume you were born one. And, as I've stated many times before....I can't wait to say, "I knew her when." Thanks for the advice from the heart, sweets.

kathryn said...

Gigi: That is a most EXCELLENT idea...and I can totally see how your friend would be absolutely thrilled.
And you'd better believe I'll be looking into it!

xoxoxo

kathryn said...

Lauren: Wait....what? I know you've been working on novels off and on for a while...but, never to be published? I've never heard of that. I'd like to believe that when we put our hearts & souls into something (ie: the very definition of passion) that we'll be somehow rewarded for it. Don't you? Or, like you said....what's it all for? I know, for me...I can't imagine loving anything more than the written word. I sense it's the same for you...Thanks for the great comment, sweetie.

kathryn said...

f8hasit: "Follow the dream". Sigh....such lovely, optimistic words. My instinct, of course, is to do just that....or the question wouldn't have even come up here. I hear of so many ppl like your friend who are miserable (altho...such a shame....right industry...wrong position!) and I really don't want to be! However, I'm trying to think longer-term (for me, anything past about 8 mos-1 yr). I appreciate the input, hon....I really do.

kathryn said...

Runnergirl: Oh! I can't believe you've turned my own words against me!!! Thank you for the kind words, sweetie...it's so hard to know whether you should go against the odds and take the risk, when you need to have this blind faith that you'll somehow succeed....all the while, knowing that there are others depending on you to support them. I don't need fortune...I just want to be happy and have what we really need to LIVE. And you're very welcome for MY comments....everyone loves feedback, right?

kathryn said...

John McElveen: Aw. That's really sweet...and I really appreciate it! I'm not saying the blogging will ever end (God, I can't imagine not being here...it's like my second home) I'm just grappling with whether to take the mental leap and try for the dream. Hey, with all the famous people I "know" from here...you'd think I'd have no prob getting my foot in the door, right??

kathryn said...

Alicia: Aw, honey! And you're one of the few people I've heard say that they actually love their jobs! I figured it would be a piece of cake for you! No worries....I will figure all this out. I'm actually hoping that somehow the answer will show itself...somehow....some way. I mean, it happens, right??
Thanks for trying!

kathryn said...

Wendy Blum: Ha! It sounds to me like you could USE some serious career changes, doll! Or, at minimum...a long vacation! Hope you can get both!

kathryn said...

Jerry: Oh. And how can one NOT be touched by such kind words??

Of course, you're right. Everyone has their own circumstances that have to be considered in making such a monumental decision.

I suppose my frustration is in having the PASSION...and am just not clear on transferring it into something CONCRETE. Don't know if it's even possible....but I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't at least TRY.

Thank you, my friend. Your words mean a lot...don't ever doubt that.
(And, right back at-cha, BTW.)

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