Monday, June 30, 2014

Always on My Mind

Searching for a job is never an easy task, especially when you are searching for a career. Most people--or, rather, many people, at any rate--go to college and study a particular field in order to establish a career in that field. I started out studying journalism and then made the switch to English, but the goal has always been to establish a career as a writer, as I have a natural affinity for writing and I do it all the time anyway. I have always been able to adapt to new styles and improve my writing with every class that I have taken, and I enjoy talking about it and influencing others to become better at it. This is probably why I have gotten into teaching, which is--or, at least, can be--an honorable profession. I am relatively new at it, and I still have a lot to learn, but it is something I can see myself doing.

However, it would not be honest of me if I said that it was my main goal, since my true desire is to be a professional writer. That is not to say that I don't like teaching, or that I wouldn't do it as a professional, it just means that I have the passion, and indeed, the determination, to be a professional writer, and I intend to follow through with that goal until I reach a point where I truly cannot move forward.

If I had been more diligent when I was younger, and had not let outside influences distract me and turn me away from my goal, I would be further ahead now. As a student journalist, I was published weekly in the entertainment pull-out of my (award-winning) college newspaper. After my first semester as a correspondent, I was promoted to entertainment reporter, and then had some problems in my personal life that distracted me from my career goals, and the semester after I became a reporter, I was back to correspondent again. It was no failing on my part as a writer, but I felt like I had failed. Instead of working through my problems and not giving up, and pushing through the hard times and focusing on school and working as a student journalist, I took a break. Not because I didn't want to continue working towards my goal, but because I needed time to get my life together before I continued on my path.

Out in the "real world," I worked and struggled to make ends meet, trying to figure out how to make the best of life. During this time, I met my wife, spent a couple years in Chicago, and reaffirmed what I had known all along: being a writer is a part of my identity. I went back to school, older, more mature, and more determined than ever. Changing my major to English, I not only graduated, but ended up going on to grad school, working the whole time, balancing my personal life, my school work, and a job, and I struggled, but the kind of struggling that makes a person stronger and more capable of succeeding, because, even when it was difficult, I didn't crack and give in to the pressure, I continued working and pushing, and, even when I didn't want to or didn't think I could do it, I did it anyway. From my effort, based on my writing skills, I was selected as a graduate assistant, and now I have gotten some real professional experience as a college instructor and am one creative writing workshop away from a master's degree, and I am at a crossroads.  

There are many different possible directions but only one direction to go, and I have to decide what is best for me--but not only me, but also my wife, and my future family. While, in many ways I am further ahead than I was five years ago, all my effort is moot unless I can transform those personal and professional developments into something concrete. I don't need to be rich, but I do need to meet my needs, and life isn't cheap.  I need to earn enough money to not only cover my basic living expenses, but also my student loans, and my debt--and not just mine, but also my wife's. I feel stuck, because I believe that I owe it to myself and to the work that I have accomplished so far to pursue a career in the area that I have chosen to study. I have been offered a part-time teaching position at my school, and I would happily accept it, but I realistically need a better paying job in order not to slide further into debt and poverty. I might be able to subsist with the part-time position if I can find a second part-time teaching position in the area, but I am still not that experienced as an instructor, and my main goal is to become a professional writer.

Even though I will shortly have a master's degree, and I have taught writing, and have written for a widely distributed publication (even though it is a student-run newspaper, it still has a wider circulation than many small town newspapers), I have no professional-level writing experience, and there doesn't seem to be any entry level writing positions available (anywhere). Every position I see needs at least 2-3 years of professional experience. Even though (I believe) I am fully capable of doing many of these jobs,  and, even of the ones that I seem to meet the criteria that are listed, the employers don't seem to want to give me a chance even if I might be more highly skilled than someone with more experience. 

If I can't convince an employer to hire me full time, I need to make the best of what I can get, and work to achieve my goal, somehow. I will take the part-time teaching position(s) and at the same time devote myself to freelance writing and getting published. I will work towards becoming a better, more experienced writer and instructor, and will continue working towards my goal, and hopefully earn enough money to subsist. 

It's either that, or just give up on trying to become a writer and/or an instructor, and just take whatever best-paying job I can get.

Somehow, I can't bring myself to do that. Not yet. Not until I know that the gates are closed, and that no amount of effort will help me get passed it. Of course, I will probably be dead before that happens.

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