Possible career choices …

October 4, 2013 LifeWriting  No comments

A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it. Roald Dahl

As I am in the process of finishing my first novel and hopefully, getting it published, I am finding it to be very uncomfortable territory. It is uncertain and I honestly have no idea how it is going to play out. I do not know what next year will look like, what the rest of my life will look like. And for someone who has always had a plan, well let’s just say I drink a lot more beer than I used to.

It is quite often I am struck by the fear that I won’t be able to sit in my room and make up stories for the rest of my life (which I very much like to do), so I often contemplate what my possible career choices would be, should writing not work out.

Without going back to school for a certificate of some sort or a Master’s degree, and after analyzing my strengths and weaknesses (because I have basically no applicable skills and not a whole lot of grown-up job worthy references), here are some of my choices:

1.  Can you get paid to read? I’m really good at that.

2. Wife for hire, anyone? (Not for that, you pervert) Listen, I’m really good at cleaning the house, keeping the pantry stocked, running errands (got dry cleaning that needs to be picked up? forgot your lunch? not a problem.), doing laundry, heck I even know how to landscape, trim bushes, and fertilize. I’m even pretty good at predicting things you need and getting them before you realize you need them. And I have a great memory: forgot where you put your wallet? I got you covered. I can’t really cook, but I can figure it out if you pay me. So basically, I could be a really good personal assistant. Ideally, I’d like to have autonomy, and do things on my own.

3. Join the Renaissance Festival. A job that requires you to play dress-up? Drink beer? Talk like you’re in a Shakespeare play? Be surrounded by people doing exactly the same thing? Check. Check. Check. and Check. Count me in. Now, I’m not exactly sure what I would do if I worked for the Renaissance Festival. Sell food? Gross. Maybe I could be a sales person? Yeah, but that didn’t work out so well last time (at Barnes and Nobles) and you have to push even harder at the RF because you only have a limited amount of time to sell your product. Then there’s the whole people not wearing deodorant in the hot summer sun and port-a-potty situation. This job would also require travel and I do have a husband, a house, and three animals that need tending to. Apparently this isn’t such a good idea after all.

4. Stay at home mom (SAHM). It’s a legitimate job, babies need raising and feeding and watching over.  However, it doesn’t pay – in fact it even costs money, is non-stop, exhausting, and a basic job requirement is to generally like children, and I don’t really, so there’s that.  Also, note to self: plan will take at least 9 months to incubate and will require a lifetime commitment. I’m only 22, I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet. Get back to me in a decade and I’ll let you know if I’ve changed my mind. So scratch that one off the list too, at least for now.

5. House cleaner. Now, I’m really good at this. This is probably my only applicable skill. I was an apprentice of my grandmother’s. (You really can’t get better cleaning instruction than from grandma.) Plus, it’s like an innate ability. I used to clean for fun. My house (I would come home from school everyday and clean the house before everyone else got home – without being asked), my aunt’s house (without fail, every single time. Oh, Lauren wants to spend the night? Sure, here I’ll just leave the mop and broom right here), and my friends rooms. One time, my best friend and I spent an entire Saturday night in high school cleaning out and organizing her mom’s walk in closet. For fun. It’s very sad, I know. Plus, you have flexible hours and you can work for yourself or with a company. But this probably doesn’t pay very much. Something to consider.

6. On the same line, I could be a professional organizer. That sounds very fun and since I enjoy working on projects, it would be ideal. However, I think you need to have a certificate to do this.

7. Life manager. My best friend is going to be a pharmacist and my younger cousin is going to be an MD. Since they both will be really busy and making lots of money, I can just be their life coaches/house manager/house cleaner/grocery shopper/errand runner/and personal guru’s! You’re welcome Tijana and Holly for giving myself a job for which you have to pay me.

Moving on now … If I had to try to get a real “grown-up” job with my BA in Psychology my realistic choices are:

1. Receptionist/secretary. I can type and organize like the best of ’em. I’m pretty friendly as long as I have coffee, so I could greet people and such. I’m not such a fan of answering the phone, but as long as it wasn’t ringing non-stop that would be doable. This job would probably bore me to tears, but I’m pretty comfortable with this idea. I’d need to buy some dress clothes though.

Or

2. In some kind of writing/editing position at an advertising agency or the like. I was Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper (does that count as a credential?) I am very meticulous and detail-oriented, so I can spot errors and I am decent at rewording things to make them sound better. I could most likely do this job. Would anyone hire me? That’s the question.

I’ve considered going back to school for my Master’s. It’s not something I really want to do (that’s a lot of time, money, and effort) but some options are:

1. Counseling or Social Work. This was actually a career path I was very seriously considering during undergrad. After two years of graduate courses, you can start meeting with clients for counseling sessions (under a supervisor). I enjoy helping others, I’m objective and empathetic. While you can make decent money, have a flexible schedule, and the like – do I really want to spend my days listening to other people bitch? And then keep bitching when they don’t use the tools given to them? Maybe, maybe not.

2. Creative Writing. Now this would be really great. I’d get to meet and work with other writers, improve my craft, network. However this degree isn’t readily transferable to a specific job, and I already have a degree that is basically useless, so I’m not sure if I really want another one. You can teach community college courses with your MA, though. And you’re chances of getting hired into a creative position is greater if you have a Masters degree. Things to consider.

I briefly considered interior design for about five minutes, but then I remembered my friend who majored in interior design always had to draw and design for projects. I can’t draw to save my life, so I don’t think that would work out very well. I also briefly considered being a Pilates instructor. I like Pilates, but do I like it that much? Probably not. Although perks of the job? Always wearing cute, comfortable workout clothes and always being toned and in-shape.

So you can see how this is a very nerve-wracking subject for me to think about. I usually push it back into a dark corner of the basement in my mind so I don’t have to think about it much.

I like to believe that I will be successful as a writer. I think I have pretty good ideas, decent writing abilities, and the time to put a lot of effort into it. I have read a ton of books, so I know what works and what doesn’t, and I understand the elements that make up a book that I can’t put down. But, with writing and publishing there is so much out of your control. It’s unpredictable. So I kind-of, sort-of need to have a back up plan. I don’t really give this topic a whole lot of thought because there is nothing else in the world I’d rather do than write, but there’s also things I want to do, things that cost money. So I do need to make some kind of money with whatever I end up doing.

Things in this industry take time. Time to write a book, get an agent, and get picked up by a publisher. Once the publisher has purchased your manuscript it can take anywhere from nine months to two years to see it on the self. And even longer to build a readership and following. So to be fair to myself, it will take time, just like any other career, to build. I often ask Andrew, my husband, when is the cut off point? When do we say, “Okay, I gave it my best shot, but it’s not working and it’s time to move on?” In my mind, it’s when I’m 25 or 26 (three to four years). By then, I should at least have SOME idea of if it’s going to work out or not.

In the meantime, I am plowing full steam ahead and putting every effort into my “writing career” (does that sound weird to you? It sounds weird to me). By working on my manuscript, taking a Scriptwriting class to challenge me and help me grow, reading books on writing and publishing, building my platform (social media – this very blog, Twitter, etc.), developing new ideas to work on.
Daily I keep in mind the words of Emily Dickinson:
Not knowing when the dawn will come
I open every door

There’s fear in uncertainty, but there’s also a relief. It’s a relief to know that my life has so much potential to change and be different from what it is right now. It is a relief to know that my life won’t always be the same. And it’s reassuring to know that I have good people in my corner supporting me no matter what: my husband, my friends, my family, and Snowy the dog (she really likes that I’m home all day, everyday).

 

Until next time, Farewell & may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.

 

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