I figured out something very interesting recently. If I apply for jobs that I want, or jobs that are related to my publishing/book field in some way, job hunting is not as soul-crushing as it is when I apply for jobs that have nothing to do with my skill set. You would think that this would be obvious, but it wasn't. See, when I decided to stop freelancing, the world became very black and white. You can't do what love for a living anymore. You are doomed to a horrible life of filing paperwork for someone in a bunker for $9/hr. You're going to be miserable now. Permanently. The End.
I could seriously stay in freelancing forever. I've been doing it so long now that the contract offers show up in my email inbox on the regular. The pay is great, there is variety, and something new is always happening. The main problem? Freelancing means I have to pay in my estimated taxes, pay for all of my own health care, and I have no benefits. I can't tell you how many nights, weekends, and holidays I've barreled through working away on some project that has a world-is-ending deadline. I just want a freaking vacation day. One where I get paid. And I want to have a project that starts up immediately when the current project ends. I don't want to wait net-90 for my paycheck after invoicing. I don't want to have a massive tax bill at the end of the year no matter how much money I schlep at the IRS. I want to feel secure, grounded, rooted. I want coworkers I can bond with and regularly-scheduled national holidays. It's not too much to ask. (Well, in this economy, it might be. Whoever said the economy recovered after 2008 is lying.)
Historically, publishers have been unwilling to hire remote workers. I'm not sure why this is because damn near everything we do involves working with people in India and three or four different corporate offices peppered throughout the United States. I think it comes down to a basic fear that everyone will want to work remotely, and then no one will come to the office. This is a ridiculous notion because most work-from-homers will tell you that it takes a very strong person to work remotely. I'd say about 80% of the people I know aren't cut out for it. They've told me this to my face. I have no idea how you do it. They'd prefer to go to an office. They can't concentrate at home or they need the interaction with other humans or PLEASE GAWD they want to get away from their kiddos and crazy spouses for a bit. I get it. I totally get it. I'd love to work outside of my home. After eight years of freelancing, I'm getting a bit stir crazy. I can own it.
There is no educational publishing in the Greater Omaha Area, however. So when my last contract fell through in a very disastrous way, my Depression Brain kicked into high gear:
No Local Publishers
+ No More Freelancing
Miserable Blondie Starts Career Life Over
Ready, set, GO!
I started looking for Omaha jobs only. I did my research well. I've been looking on and off for local jobs the entire time I've lived here, so I know where some secret, creative companies are lurking. I also know all of the tricks for noodling my way into people's inboxes and getting my resume in front of eyeballs. I've been hustling in the freelance game for a long time. I know how to get my info to the right people. HOWEVER, I forgot that if you do NOT have the skills/ degree/ etc a company is looking for, it doesn't matter how good your game is. No one is going to call you. You aren't qualified. You do not have the required skills. FLUSH. They won't even send you a courtesy email to say, "Hahaha! No, just no." Even that would be more refreshing than the crippling silence at the end of 100 submitted resumes.
[And I mean seriously CRICKETS because Briarpatch has a cricket factory in the basement. They crawl up through the vents, and Gretchen alerts me to them. Between the two of us, we caught SIX crickets last night. That's our new record. *chest bumps Gretchen*]
My regular readers know my depression and anxiety come in waves. When I decided to end freelancing, the depression came on hard and fast. Looking at the available jobs in my area, I realized that I was going to have to BEG someone to give me a job I didn't want to do for half of my freelancing salary. Like literally, cut right in half. I'd be back making the salary I made when I was 22 years old -- but now I'm 38. I know I'm not alone in this situation. I know that. I have SO many friends and colleagues who are in the exact same boat, and I remind them over and over that gone are the days of wine and roses -- this is just the way the corporate world is now. It's sad. It's not your fault. You aren't a failure. Things Just Changed. But still, the darkness clamped down on my mentality and flushed me into the lowest of lows. I found myself crying in public. I found myself unable to carry on conversations. I stopped working on minis. I stopped reading my books. I became mute. I stared at walls.
I know myself and my demons quite well. At least I have that whole self-awareness thing going for me. So I knew I just had to give myself some time. It will pass. Just get through it. So I kept getting up and
And time went by.
They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting something to change. I've been job hunting Omaha since back in June. It ain't working, people. But I refuse to move because Briarpatch is my sanctuary, and Farmsville is my town, so what options are left?
1. Freelance publishing.
2. Full-time remote publishing.
#1 has got to go. So that only leaves me with #2.
Don't get me wrong, I've attempted #2 plenty of times. I've queried and noodled and buttered up and tried to squeeze myself into shut doors many times. But this has been in little dribbles over the years. I've never gone on a full-blown assault on my industry to find a company who is willing to take a chance on a remote editor. I know they like me and that I'm good because the exact same companies keep hiring me over and over and over and paying me good money. I'm not sure they realize that they could probably save money by hiring me full-time remote. I've done the math. It would actually work out really well for them. But still. I hit a brick wall. No remote options. No telecommuting.
See how I keep chasing my tail here? Yeah, I know. It drives me nuts, too.
But here I am, and my options are fading quickly. It's been a long, hard summer of self-reflection, self-flagellation, and a very low self-esteem.
So then this miracle happened. I got an interview that was kinda sorta iffy-ish related to my publishing career. A little, tiny spark lit inside my chest. I realized that I actually could get excited about a job if it had something to do with my passion for books and literacy. HOLY CRAP, DID I JUST FEEL EXCITED?! I'M ACTUALLY ALIVE?! WHAT'S HAPPENING?!
I didn't get that job (I had 95% the wrong skill set), but I'm so grateful that I went on the interview. It woke me up. It reminded me that I'm valuable. I am good at something. Insurance companies, banks, and medical companies in Omaha totally don't care about the work I've done, but in my field, my resume is quite impressive. It had been so long since I'd felt proud of anything that I almost felt like crying a bit. And then I swung my big ole head around my home office and looked -- really looked -- at all I've accomplished. My office is filled with books that I've written or edited or helped plan or prototyped.
Look at all you've done, Blondie. You can do this. You can find a company who will value this.
Who knows? Perhaps the right company will be one in the Omaha area. Or maybe it will be remote. Or maybe it will be some kind of hybrid job that hasn't crossed my radar yet. The point? I know for the first time in many, painful months that it's going to be OK. The darkest part of this experience is finished.