Thursday, June 16, 2011

Readers Wanted; Apply Within

In the past few years, I've tried several different ways to earn some income.  Staying home when the girls were young made sense, but once they were both in school all day, it seemed that I needed to be contributing to household expenses rather than just creating more costs.  I've felt as if it is my duty, as an educated, experienced adult, to add something to the bank account on a semi-regular basis.

Over the years I've been a teacher's aide, worked in special education, taught remedial writing and math to adults returning to college, tutored algebra, substituted in elementary and middle school classrooms and even had a stint as a cafeteria lady.  I've explored school-based career possibilities pretty thoroughly.

I tried my hand at having an antique booth, which mostly gave me a place to store my personal surplus of furniture and bric-a-brac.  I'm glad I gave it a shot, but I'm no businesswoman and I really can't afford the pieces I truly appreciate.  Evidently, I'm just meant to browse, not to buy and sell. 

I came to the conclusion that I needed to get a job somewhere that I already liked to go, so I applied for a position at Kohl's.  I worked there for 8 months or so, and was able to retire that "never say never..." saying about working in retail.  I've done it.  It's like waitressing to me.  It's something I can do, and am pretty good at, but I devoutly hope I'm never called upon to do it again.

Which brings me to last fall, when I took a job babysitting for a neighbor's school-aged kids.  I loved the idea of regular hours, nights, weekends and holidays off, and the chance to work one-on-one with kids on their schoolwork.  It was a great experience and I think we all got something out of it (the kids found out what a really mean nanny is like), but they needed more than I could provide and now have a young, sweet, chipper nanny to replace my tired old self.

Looking for another part-time position to make up for my babysitting income, I discovered a friend with a successful home-based Internet business was looking for clerical help.  After some discussion about the wisdom of hiring a friend, she decided to give me a try.  I was instantly captivated by her enthusiasm and vision - she has an understanding of the potential for using the Internet that surpasses anyone I've talked to before.  I figured I could probably learn a great deal from her, as well as contribute some of my own old-school experience to her one-woman futuristic enterprise.  Well, at least I was right about one thing.

One day when I was preparing to leave, my friend/employer and I somehow got on the subject of blogging.  When she discovered I enjoy writing, she mentioned that she may need some articles written for her website - was I interested?  What started as a minor question on her part ended up being a pivotal moment for me.  I eventually confessed that I'd rather be a writer than keep doing oddjobs, but that I felt obligated to contribute some income to the household, blah, blah, blah.  My friend challenged my premise:  did Eric actually expect me to work for the sake of a tiny paycheck?  Had I ever asked him point-blank about trying to write for a living?

Ouch.  For months I'd felt a void where my sense of accomplishment should be.  Just doing a job for the sake of a paycheck wasn't very fulfilling.  I mean, I would dig ditches and serve mud soup every day, if my family's well-being required that of me.  But our life is arranged such that the lost time and inconvenience of me holding down a low-wage job usually outweighs the modest financial gain.  I manage the household and get our girls almost everywhere they need to go, with everything they need with them.  Eric supports us with his salary and I try to do my job without adding to his burden.  So when he had to add hours of driving, shopping and cooking to his already full day, just so I could have a job and a paycheck, the imbalance of the situation was obvious.  But how to find fulfillment, creative or financial, without sacrificing the comforts and routines of home and family life that we'd all come to appreciate?

It seemed my inner struggle was being dragged into the open by a woman, an entrepreneur, who had already tackled these arguments in her marriage and family, and found her own path to happiness and fulfillment.  She helped me to see that I had to meet her challenge - I had to confront Eric with my desire to pursue writing as a career.  Never mind that I had no prospects, no recent body of work besides this blog.  I had to go to bat for myself and my belief in my ability to write well and write stuff that people like to read.  How and where to find an audience, a job, a writing assignment, that was a topic for another day.  My fragile ego could only handle one  life-changing question at a time.

Fast forward a few weeks and here I am, parked at the computer, working on my blog for the first time in ages.  In May I was working two part-time jobs, and since the beginning of June I've had family in town and some big events going on.  Right after our guests flew home, we left for family vacation, which is where I am now.  In the ensuing weeks I've applied for writing jobs, submitted articles to websites seeking fresh-sounding stories on pre-selected topics, and I've begun making notes for a story.  Needless to say, Eric gave me his blessing.  It turns out he has always wanted me to pursue a writing career, he just never mentioned it in my hearing.  He ascribes to the theory that if you do something you love, and do it well, you'll probably find a way to get compensated for the effort.  Who knew?

So attention job-seekers:  I'm hiring!  Readers needed for long-term assignment.  Reading opportunities provided with virtually no advance notice and on no particular schedule.  Benefits:  laughter, tears and possibly a deep thought or two.  Compensation:  This is a volunteer position.  Absolute no money will change hands.  To apply, become a follower and encourage others to do the same.  If you or someone you know likes to read, I WANT YOU!


  1. What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? Write, Michele, Write! You are an awesome writer and certainly there are folks out there who will pay you for your extreme talent.

  2. Ah, Michelle, you have finally admitted what so many of us knew--that writing is your great talent. Wonderful things are bound to come from your pen, or rather keyboard. The great American Novel is within reach. WRITE ON.

  3. Of course, I'm a reader. I also nominate you to write the Groupon e-mails...they are truly off the deep end.

  4. Free at last! Go get em, Tiger!

  5. Sign me up as a reader! Especially if you continue to compliment me in your posts:) Best wishes to my favorite writer--life is too short to live small.