While at the boring temp job that had turned permanent (the money was good, what can I say?), I started freelance writing. With the encouragement of my oldest sister, a long-time professional writer and author, I began. First, I contacted area newspapers. Shockingly, more than one said, "yes," and I was taken on to write human interest and business articles.
Over time, I built my portfolio, along with a nest egg, and decided that I would freelance write full-time. I finished the first draft of a suspense novel in my free time and learned all I could about successful freelance writing careers.
Fast forward seven years, one child, a few pets and a house move later. In 2015, after writing thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts and content for customer's websites, I once again faced burnout. This time was different though. I had dreamed of having a creative career for so long. I knew myself as a writer now, it was my title. If I wasn't that, who was I? It felt like my identity, along with my business was slipping away.
Even so, I recognized the signs clearly. Though I'm an introvert, I was feeling extremely isolated. Work still wasn't bringing in the amount of money that we needed, and I was tired. Things felt stale and the world had become gray.
I'd written four novels and one nonfiction book in addition to the other projects. I'd taught writing classes, tried and failed to get a writer's coaching program off the ground, and sold hundreds of my books (self-publishing, even if you're a decent writer, is still a challenging way to make a living).
I started to apply for jobs. Back in human services? Maybe. What else was I good at? I looked at ads for marketing assistants and applied for virtually anything that sounded interesting and that I might be good at.
Eventually, I took a job as a copywriter with a very forward-thinking internet marketing company. I was still writing, but without the constant stress of trying to find new work. The set hours (no more evening work sessions that blurred my workday) gave me time and space to just learn again and create for the fun of it.
It wasn't all roses, of course. The new job required a 45-minute commute each way and when I got home in the evenings I was tired and faced with a messy house and family who needed me. Still, over the weeks and months, my dulled creativity began to sharpen, something I'd feared might never happen. I became a sponge, soaking up new ideas, colors and design inspirations that I had feared were lost forever.
I listened to podcasts on haute couture sewing and the history of fashion, scoured the local book shop and library for resources on the topics and started to reach out online for community. I dreamed of upcycling accent pieces for home and sewing beautiful, funky pieces of clothes from castoffs. I sucked in articles and blog posts and went to the local fabric store just to touch textiles and see beautiful colors.
I began a little shop in Etsy and also started selling some of my vintage finds at a local retro shop. I decided that finally, finally, I was going to get serious about saving for the camper I'd always dreamed of owning. Money from my "side gigs" goes toward this fund. Someday, it will hold all my creative supplies and become a sort of mobile art and sewing unit.
My son is still young and my family, elderly cats and home often need me. But I make sure to also feed that inquisitive, creative side too, even if only for a few minutes each day.
My "studio" is a less-than-ideal nook in the unfinished basement and I lug stuff up and down the stairs a lot (I can't sew there). But I have a dream now and know that my true calling--whatever job title I hold--is to explore my creativity and share it with the world.
Who knows? Maybe I'll even inspire others along the way to do the same.