Where to go from here?
Tomorrow is my last day with a great company that is struggling to deal with changes in the oil and gas industry. My first instinct, of course, is to hit the job boards and toss résumés into the ether for another B2B sales job.
My heart is telling me to hold back, and hold out for opportunities to write for a living.
My wallet – and my mortgage company – are suggesting other options, likely to require ski masks and duffel bags.
I’ll abandon the larceny idea for now, as my size precludes any chance of blending into the majority of the populace while running from the law. But what of the other two options?
I was born to sell. Certainly my dad had the gift, as that’s all he did since he left the Navy in the 70’s. Save my side gigs in writing, that’s all I’ve been doing since halfway through my first (of many) freshman year at Ohio State, when I started selling lawnmowers at Sears.
Retail sucks, certainly, but I found a gift while peddling small-engined machines that spring. The commission checks were so good that I dropped out of school. I found another gift at Sears a few months later when I met Heather.
I moved up into management at Sears, did a stretch at Home Depot where the hours nearly destroyed our relationship, and eventually walked out of retail into a 9-5 sales career.
I’ve worked both behind a desk and on the road, always selling. I’m good at it.
Fun fact: I hated writing when I was a kid.
Since, I’ve reasoned that the act of writing wasn’t the primary factor in my dislike – rather, as I grew up without a computer in the home, I had to hand-write all of my assignments. I’ve found that the various cognitive differences -including ADHD – that I’ve had to manage over my life make the slow act of pen-to-paper incompatible with quick sentence formation. I’d struggle because my mind was ten words ahead of my hands.
Now that QWERTY has supplanted Ticonderoga and BIC, writing is a joy.
In 2011, I stumbled upon a post at Jalopnik, linking to a call for writers at the excellent classic-car site, Bring a Trailer. And they paid their writers, which is a big deal in the online world, which often gives content creators “exposure” rather than cash. Matt Inman (the Oatmeal) says it best:
Anyhow, Randy Nonnenberg, the founder of Bring A Trailer, brought me onboard, showing me the ropes of online publishing. I spent almost four years writing at BaT on the side of my day job, and it was gloriously fun.
Last spring, an old friend best known as Bark M. egged me to submit writing samples to his editor at The Truth About Cars. Derek Kreindler took a chance on me, and now I’m publishing articles under my own name. I’ve over 100 pieces published at TTAC now, for which I have several people to thank:
Bark, for the encouragement; Derek, for taking a chance; Mark Stevenson, our new editor, for letting me grow beyond one piece a week; and Jack Baruth, for providing sage advice and mentoring.
I think that I’ve found my voice, but I don’t know that I can support my family by writing. I’d have to juggle several different outlets as a freelancer, or somehow convince one to put me on staff even though I don’t live in Detroit.
Incidentally, if anyone here happens to hold the keys to such a writing gig..please contact me.
Well, really, I don’t have a conclusion. I need advice and suggestions. Where should I go from here?
[Image credits: Header, By Carsten Tolkmit from Kiel, Germany (crossroads)CC BY-SA 2.0</a>], <a href=””>via Wikimedia Commons, Comic, The Oatmeal]