My mom once told me I have a tendency to chase squirrels when it comes to my career choices. As a person who has known me all my life, I have to admit she has a point. The good news is all of the squirrels I’ve chased into different career opportunities have provided me with a wide range of experiences to bring to my writing. Because the truth is, through it all, the one squirrel I never stopped chasing was the writing career squirrel (I know the squirrel analogy is starting to fall apart, but I think you can still follow me).
I was blessed with a high school job at the public library where I could bury my head in books a great deal of the time and get paid for it. Being buried in all of those books had me convinced what I really wanted to do was write my own. The only thing I lacked was experience and faith in my own abilities. Then I went to college and chased a few squirrels until I ended up with a degree in Sociology. During my last semester in college I thought I wanted to be a preschool teacher after an internship working with little ones. But since I was already about 98% done with my Sociology degree I went ahead with that instead and became a Clinical Research Coordinator for mental health related medications. It was important work and appealed to my perfectionism, but the flip side was the stress from the job led me to anxiety requiring medications similar to the ones I was coordinating studies for. My stress relief was my writing hobby. I wrote my first full length manuscript during this time. I also attended a Romance Writers of America conference where I met, among others, Nora Roberts. For me this was the ultimate star encounter. My first manuscript was rejected by a few publishers because it was not ready for publication. But I kept on with the writing.
I moved on to another career as a receptionist at a women’s health clinic. I stayed with that clinic for seven years and performed a wide array of jobs, the best of which was writing and editing the clinic’s patient newsletter. I wrote the majority of the content and edited the rest. It was the most fun I ever had at a job. At one point the newsletter was going out to hundreds of patients. Every month I couldn’t wait to write it. At home, I wrote my second full length fiction manuscript during this time as well.
At the height of the clinic newsletter’s popularity, the clinic was sold and the newsletter scrapped from the new owners marketing plan. Shortly after that I had a baby and took a career detour into medical billing. I learned a lot about medical billing and coding and spent many miserable hours trying to collect money from people who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay their bills. Writing continued to be a stress relieving outlet on the side.
After I had my second child, my husband and I determined that with the costs of childcare it made the most sense for me to find a way to work from home. I opened Liz’s Home Daycare and have been spending many pleasant days at home ever since. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the company of some very sweet and fun kiddos in addition to my own. I also joined a couple of online forums for daycare providers where we ask each other questions and discuss issues that come up. They are wonderful people and I love learning from them. Over the last year I have found myself composing daycare forum answers (and sometimes questions) the length of short novels. And all this time I never stopped writing fiction on the side. During all these years, every once in a while I would look up writing gigs on Craigslist or sign up for content mills and write a few things. Despite all the career squirrels I’ve gone after, writing is the one I never let out of my sight, even if I couldn’t quite catch it. So, here I am, finally grabbing the squirrel by the tail and launching my freelance writing career. Writing has always been the dream and I am happy to say it is now the reality.