This post has no picture and is nonfiction. It’s also pretty long. But I felt the need to discuss how life’s been.
Until about two weeks ago, I’d been working freelance in various capacities. I’ve been a writer and a proofreader and have considered myself lucky, because writing is something I enjoy and something I trained to do in college. From 2007 to 2012, however, the bulk of my income came from doing art restoration on older comic books being reprinted in lovely new collections.
Early in 2012, I learned that the line of books I worked on was going to be scaled back dramatically, to the point that almost all of us who worked for the line’s editor would no longer be getting work. I immediately went into panic mode, as you can imagine, and because my boyfriend and I worked on the same line of books, the panic was doubled. I decided I should look in earnest for a job outside of the realm of freelance so that our two-person home wouldn’t be caught unawares again. So I applied for every job I thought I qualified for—librarian work, writing and editing jobs, administrative assistant jobs, retail, AmeriCorps, you name it. Not much came of it. Did well in the few interviews I had, I was told, but there was always someone who was a better fit for the position.
(In the meantime, I stayed afloat with freelance work, for which I have to give especially loud gratitude to Terry Becker and Michael and Debbie Kelleher. Without them, I would have been completely screwed. I also have to give thanks to my main editor, Cory S., who fought for me to still have work and who, along with Mike, was an invaluable job reference.)
It was in December that I got toward the end of a multi-step interview process for a writing job I really, really wanted. (Jellyvision! Dammit!) As you can tell from that parenthetical thought, that job I didn’t get. That was the one that broke my heart. Savings were dwindling, the job search was depressing—in short, I needed a career. I decided to go back to school.
I have a science background along with my writing background; I’m a dual-degree freak, biology and English. We’ve all heard that health care is where the job growth is, so I did some research and tried to figure out what discipline I could go for with the education I had gotten and the money I had available to spend on training.
It turned out there was a program at my community college for one high-demand position. (Aside: use of phrases like “high-demand” is one identifier that marks people who have been scouring the want ads for work.) I began taking the prerequisite courses for a medical assistant program this past spring and would have gotten into the substance of the program with the start of the fall semester a few weeks back if not for one odd twist.
While in school, I’d been looking for part-time work, anything that had a schedule that would be easier to fit courses around than freelance work. As past of the search, I posted my resume on the community college’s job site. That was where Colleen, the office manager of a local cardiologists’ group practice, found it. She called and invited me to interview for a full-time position as a medical assistant/front desk assistant.
I went to the interview. I got the job. I’ve been working at it for the past two weeks.
The reason I didn’t make a huge public announcement sooner is that it’s so different from freelance comic work, I’ve been terrified—of failing, screwing up a patient’s care, and getting fired. Seriously terrified. I was asking friends about library degrees and careers, just because I worried I would need another plan, and hey, I like libraries and had been considering going down that path. However, my co-workers and supervisors talked with me this week and let me know that I’m not going to get fired right now. In fact, despite the stress that hits at busy times and makes me flustered, they said they expect that I’m not going to know everything right away, and they actually think I’m doing pretty darn well. So I’m going to run with it, because it turns out that my initial feelings about the place were right, and they are a good bunch of people to work with. That support makes all the difference.
Of course, I’m still exhausted, having shifted to a normal person’s waking hours from a semi-nocturnal life. I hope that subsides soon, though, because I actually think this could help me be a better writer. Not that I won’t continue to study drug names and new patient forms in my free time, but once I feel better about this new job, I might have more time to write than when I was strictly a freelancer. Freelance work doesn’t end till the job is done, which may be at 3 a.m. Traditional work at least has something close to a schedule it adheres to. And what a weird kind of relief it’s going to be, getting paid regularly every two weeks! Optimistic, maybe, but sometimes, optimism feels nice.
So. I’m getting adjusted. But I’m still working toward both the creative life and the professional life I want. In fact, it’s almost time to head out to one event that helps with the former—there’s an event tonight for the reading series I help coordinate.
Guess I’ll just have to say, “Write more soon.”
(And now I’ve typed that and am about to click “Publish,” which means I’ll have to write more soon, because anyone will be able to see that I said that. Yeah! Obligation!)