How I Lost My Job (Twice) – And Why It Was the Best Thing for My Writing and Editing Career

surviving job loss

You’ll allow me to share a deeply personal story, won’t you? I hope so.

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. As a child, I always had a paperback in hand. And now, as an adult, I always have either my Kindle (or the Kindle app on my phone), or a paperback in my hand (or pocket or purse).

While I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, I read a lot of books on how to find exactly the right career based on your skills and interests. One of these I remember was What Color Is Your Parachute? Another was Do What You Love, and the Money Will Follow.

My main trouble was: I knew I loved books; I just didn’t know how to make a living out of working with them. Sure, I could be a librarian, but I hadn’t gone to school for that, and I didn’t want to go back. Sure, I could write. But back in those days (2001), traditional publishing was still the way to go, and I couldn’t get anyone to even look at a manuscript. So…

I found a local job as an editor (really, an abstractor/indexer) at a company that creates academic databases. That was pretty cool, except I was working with magazines, and not books. And I wasn’t making a lot of money.

Then I found a job as an editor of audio news feed transcripts that paid a little more. Still, it was working with little more than mindless ad copy – basically, the same thing over and over again. It was mind-numbing … and nothing to do with books. I did learn a lot about several cool movies, though. And I like movies a lot too!

Finally, I found (what I thought was) my dream job – working with a company that made audio books for the blind. I would take the physical books, look through them, and see if there were any really hard to pronounce words. Then, I would guide the narrators through the book production process, stopping them if they misread any words. I even got every other Friday off, so I could dedicate those days to writing.

I finished and self-published my first book, SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME, during that time. Life was awesome … until I had a baby and had to drop her off at daycare every morning because my book sales just weren’t taking off like I’d hoped they would. I knew nothing about book marketing. I was so naive (stupid?), in fact, I believed that if I just posted the book on the Internet, people would naturally find it and start to buy it. (It’s okay. You can laugh.)

It was at that time I realized how much I really didn’t want to be at that “dream” job, but I stayed because I knew I had to to help support my family.

Two years later, my second baby was born, and I had a lot of trouble healing after the birth (second c-section + a LOT of pain). I was on various pain medications that didn’t work. All they did was make me loopy and/or unconscious. I knew I couldn’t live, let alone work, like that. My doctor wouldn’t release me to go back to work. My FMLA protection ran out, and the company decided they didn’t need me anymore (although they did post a job description for that exact same position less than a month later).

I tried to find another job after that, but nobody ever called me in for an interview. So, I began finding other ways of making money – from home, so I could be with my girls.

I knew some people made money from freelance writing, so I began to dive into that possibility, learning everything I could about how to become a freelancer. I also discovered I could take my editing skills and use those to make money as a freelancer, as well. What, exactly, did I do, and how did I do it? That’s something I’m going to talk about next week, because the answers to those questions are somewhat involved.

Now, back to my story. I’ve only lost my job once, right? How did I lose it again?

Well, six years after I started working from home, I received an email call-out from the daycare connected to where my girls go to school (incidentally, the same one I’d left crying every day eight years before because my baby was there). They were looking for more workers and wondered if any of the parents might be interested in a job. I thought it couldn’t hurt to just talk to the director about what the position entailed. A few days later, I was starting – new scrubs and all.

Let me be clear: this job didn’t have anything to do with books (except the ones that I read to the kids), but I thought it was the right move to make. I got half off my girls’ school tuition, and I got the chance to impact some young lives for Christ. It seemed to be where God wanted me. For a little over a year, I took care of other people’s children while my parents watched over my kids when they were sick or out of school for some reason.

Then I wanted to go on a field trip with my girls. I’d been able to get the time off before, but the boss just didn’t want to give me the day off in this one case because of “staffing issues.” I told her I would be calling in that day. I did, and she texted me later saying I didn’t need to bother coming back.

So, I’m back to writing and editing (both of which I had basically neglected for that year I worked at the daycare), and I’m making just as much as I was working at that daycare. I’m not making a whole lot of money, but it’s enough. I’m working part-time hours and spending as much time with my kids as I want. It’s summer now, and I don’t have to worry about not being with them! I don’t think I’m ever going back to work for anyone else. I’ve discovered that no employer really cares about your family time. All they care about is their bottom line. And my family is more important to me than anything – except God, who has enabled me to have the opportunity to work for myself. For that, I am forever grateful.      

All this to say: If you really want to make a living working from home writing and/or editing, you can do it. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. And, as I mentioned, I’m going to share more information about how to do this next week, so keep an eye out!

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