If you ask my family, what I do all day they would all say “play on the computer.” Grrr. Not true. I have to beg to differ. I do A LOT of things during the day. I work from home. I write on the computer for sure, but I also cook dinner…not well…but I do cook meals for my family. I drive carpool. I drive kids all over the place to practice and to and from school events. I run errands. I sit at soccer practice and swim meets. I do housework. I do the laundry. I’m rarely at home. But even I have to admit that I am on the computer A LOT.
I tweet. I post to Facebook about the brands I represent. I write. I’m not a writer nor am I a journalist. At least, not a trained one. I was an English major in college. I’ve taken graduate writing classes. Though not trained, I have written for as long as I can remember. Little books as a child. “Adventure novels” as a tween. Journals and diaries as a teen. Papers and essays and college.
Once I graduated from college, I happened by chance on a job that included a smidgen of writing. Not my first job after graduation…that job was more clerical than anything else. My job title was “editorial assistant” for a cable TV directory publisher in Washington, D.C., but the job was more data entry than anything else. I was an “editor” in name only. The only writing I did was filling in my timesheets. So not the job I wanted. Within days of starting, I knew I had made a huge mistake. The job was mind-numbingly boring and I had to get out…quick.
I found my second job post-graduation after a “desperation job search.” I was a woman on a mission and spent days when I should have been working and nights at home scouring the “Help Wanted” ads for jobs. Younger readers of this blog may be surprised to learn that I didn’t have a computer when I graduated from college in the late ’80s. I knew a handful of friends in college who had Macs, but no one with a PC. I didn’t get a home computer, a PC, until the early ’90s.
During my “desperation job search” I typed up resumes and cover letters on my work computer, which was not a PC or a Mac, but more of a mainframe computer. I had to be stealthy and surreptitious. I was constantly “walking to the fax machine” that was next to the printer. You have never seen someone race to the printer and dive on a piece of paper flying out of a printer as I did when I had to print a document. Of course, the inevitable happened when a few resumes I printed got caught up in the print queue and wouldn’t print. I arrived at work to find a pile of paper on my desk chair. Yikes. That was an awkward moment.
I was still “only” an editorial assistant for a industry trade association in Washington, D.C., but the job had more scope and there were more opportunities for growth. It’s true that I spent much of my days editing and proofreading stacks of office correspondence, all copy for the magazine and newsletter, and industry reports, but I got to write. Writing was supposed to be a teensy part of my job description, but I made writing a priority. As long as I got my “real” work done, I was able to pick up writing assignments here and there. I wrote the “People in the News” column for the trade association’s magazine, and a number of other monthly columns. I wrote feature stories. I wrote radio scripts. I even took a few writing classes through a local university’s continuing education program.
Though I loved that job, the daily commute from the Maryland suburbs to Washington, D.C., was starting to take a toll. I was exhausted by the twice a day one-hour commute. I was tired of fighting for a parking space at my local subway station. I was tired of working in the city.
I hit the mother load when I landed my third post-college job. The job paid more than my second post-college job. My job was a 10-minute ride from my townhouse. And the job had casual Fridays, a flexible work schedule, and a very friendly work environment. I was still editing and proofreading, but spent the vast majority of my time as the project manager for the company’s health care books, manuals, journals, and newsletters.
I still wasn’t writing a lot, but I enjoyed whatever writing I was assigned. I took over the company newsletter and a few other smaller assignments. This job that was the perfect fit for “college graduate me who needed to find a job closer to home” was also a God send when I had my first child. Instead of scrambling for freelance work, I was able to do my job at least part time from home AND stay home with my baby.
Stay Tuned for Part Two of my Writing History….