Wednesday, February 01, 2017

My Independence Day

The book is off with the copyeditor, and now I’m jumping on the other stuff I need to take care of. I have reference books to look at for the next thing I’m working on, we’re doing some reformatting of some of my older books, and I’m working on some branding/marketing stuff.

All very appropriate for the 15th anniversary of my time as a self-employed writer. It was 15 years ago yesterday that I got laid off from my last job. I spent that day reeling. I had very mixed feelings. I’d tried to quit a couple of years before that, but my boss talked me into staying and worked out a way for me to reduce my hours (and pay) and telecommute so I could write more. And then I ended up barely writing because I was finally happy at my job. Then the bosses who’d worked that out for me left, the economy went haywire after 9/11, and I became much less happy. I’d come up with the idea that would become Enchanted, Inc., and I wanted to delve into it, but wasn’t sure I had the time. Things got even weirder at work — we were having to re-pitch our biggest account, the one that took up almost all of my time since I lived near their offices and they’d grown dependent on me. I was even writing the CEO’s speeches. But for some strange reason, they shut me out of all the meetings to prepare for this pitch, at one point even shutting the door in my face when I went to the office to supposedly help work on it. They didn’t take me to the meeting to re-pitch the account. Then they lost the account and laid off most of the staff who’d been working on it, including me. I saw it coming and had all my files already off my work computer, but it was still kind of scary. I had to drive to the office to turn my stuff in, and then I came home and read Harry Potter.

That was around the time I’d really gotten into the series. I’d read the first three books and had finally come to the top of the wait list at the library for the fourth. I’d been planning a reading weekend for that book. It just came a bit earlier than I’d planned. So I came home and did the stuff I’d been planning for the weekend. The next day was when I was officially unemployed, and I was going to spend the day reading, but then my phone started ringing. My old client, the one that had moved to another agency, spurring the layoff, wanted to talk to me about working for them directly. I heard from other clients. That was when I started thinking that maybe I wouldn’t have to find a new job. I could work for myself, and that might give me time to write fiction. Fortunately, I had a lot of money saved up, so I had a cushion. I earned maybe just enough to live on during those first two and a half years. The basic bills were paid, and any extras came out of my savings. Then I sold Enchanted, Inc. and things got better for a few years before I had another dip, and then things got better again.

But it’s been fifteen years since I’ve worked for anyone else, and for more than five years I’ve been strictly writing fiction, having finally dropped my last freelance marketing communications client. It’s not always easy, and I’m probably not where I’d have been financially if I’d kept working full-time, but I wouldn’t have been nearly as happy. I can’t think of anything else I’d want to do. That makes for good motivation for writing. I have to keep making this work because I can’t imagine trying to find a regular job again at this point.

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