On Leaving Publishing...to Write!
What does one do when she’s been wanting to write a story that has been kicking around in her head for a few years, but she herself has been steeped in publishing for 10+ years working on other peoples’ novels and stories? As one of my good friends told me one day, “It’s time to make my dream come true!”
And so, gentle reader, I found myself at a crossroads in late 2016, torn between staying in publishing and continuing the regular 9-to-5 routine, or actually taking the ultimate plunge to focus on myself and the story and words that I have been wanting to write down on paper. It wasn’t an easy decision, because it went against my entire practical mindset: Will we be ok financially? What will we do about health insurance now? How long do I do this for? Do I find something to do on the side, to make a little extra money? But at the same time, I thought, “Well, when else am I going to have a chance to do this anyway? If not now, when?” A cliché set of questions to be asking, but they were all there swimming in my head.
All I’ve known is publishing, ever since college. Going to a school with a work co-op program is what set me on the path to working in publishing; as crazy as it sounds, it was during an interview at a textbook publishing service that a light bulb went off in my head and I had come to realize that working in publishing was a viable option and something that I really wanted to do. I reveled in the idea of working with books, and I did for many years: in production editorial, trade marketing, digital marketing, and publicity. I simply loved talking about books and sharing my excitement for the books and authors I had the wonderful privilege of working with. Heck, I even went to grad school part-time to further scratch that bookish itch and read more books!
But over time, a feeling of restlessness overtook me, and it wasn’t until this past Fall that I started to consider another path for myself. As someone who had made countless travel itineraries for authors, I was setting out on a journey that had no real itinerary or timetable. But with the support of my husband, my parents, and my close friends who knew what I had been grappling with, I felt a bit stronger and surer of myself.
I quit right before Christmas. Maybe it was a bit of a Christmas present for myself. I did nothing writing-based that entire month, to give myself time to decompress and take care of random stuff around the house, sort of decluttering my own life before I started out on this new venture.
When January hit, intense doubt gripped me every few days. I would sit there at my desk, staring at the wall, actually asking myself out loud, “What the heck am I even doing?!?!?” This was—and still is—new territory for me. Aside from these second-guessing-thoughts, my time away from work has been quite freeing. I spend more time with my parents, and I try to make more time for friends; I read what I want to read; I’ve traveled a bit with my husband, and with friends, and to see friends even! I did pick up a freelance publishing job and have been doing that a few days a week, but I approach it with a different frame of mind than when I used to do it full-time. My focus is still my one big writing project, and I have a big trip planned for this summer that will really help in that aspect (I’ll write more about it in a separate blog post!).
Quitting publishing to work on my own novel that will one day (hopefully) be published has been a curious experience for me. I consider myself a work-in-progress, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.