Friday Speak Out!: From Writing Dreams to Writing Reality

Friday, November 03, 2023

By Jodi M. Webb

Three years. That’s how long I haven’t been a writer. Yes, people say, “I’ve always been a writer.” But can you be a writer if you stop writing? For 35 years I wrote. Short stories, poetry, magazine articles, essays, books, reviews, interviews, endless queries. Then 12 years ago, a change in my life made a job with benefits a necessity. I continued to write at night but the demands of a new job, growing children, aging parents slowed my writing to a trickle and finally, nothing.

Three weeks ago, I opened up my work email to the announcement that the newspaper I worked for had been sold to MediaNews Group. Eventually, came the email that my department had been eliminated. I left the office on Friday afternoon and on Monday got up at 7:30 and headed for my new office. My laptop. Half of my day is dedicated to the complications of a job ending. Unemployment claims, medical insurance, retirement funds, resumes, Linked In, recommendations, job boards, Zoom calls.

In the words of a former co-worker, “My new full time job is finding a new full time job.”

After all that, I write. Listening to the tick-tock of the unemployment benefits/severance clock counting down, I’m determined to see if I can resurrect my old writing career before diving into another job.

I think of myself as middle-aged but that is stretching the truth by a few years…or decades. Magazines I used to write for have change their format or ceased publication. After years immersed in SEO, click thru rates and ROI, I’m spending hours learning about AI, Substack, BookTok. Fellow writers are telling me the freelance market is “tight”. Any sane person would be looking for a Plan B. But I’m a writer, my grip on reality was never that strong.

Some might say it is too late to find my way back to being a working writer. If you asked me four weeks ago, I would have said the same thing. But losing my stable salary + benefits job made me jump back into the writing game instead of holding it as a vague “when I retire” dream. Never thought I’d say it but “Thanks, MediaNews Group!”

What would make you change your writing dreams into writing reality?

* * *

Jodi M. Webb was published in dozens of magazines and anthologies you won’t recognize. She even spent several years as a WOW Blog Tour Manager and has the sweatshirt to prove it! For the last 12 years, she’s written ad copy, advertorials and organized contests for her local newspaper. Stay tuned for what comes next!
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Angela Mackintosh said...

Jodi!! It's SO great to see you blogging here at The Muffin, but I'm sorry to hear about your job. I've been hearing a lot of stories like yours lately. A friend lost her editing job to AI, and one of our team members recently wrote a post about losing her job and finally deciding to launch a freelance business. I'm glad you're writing again! You are such a talented writer. I also relate, as I went through ten years of not writing creatively and really only started writing again in 2017. So it's never too late! :) Are you freelancing right now or working on a creative project?

Renee Roberson said...

Jodi--Years ago I was working at an ad agency when I was suddenly laid off after a merger. After a few months of stress, I got a job working in public relations, where I was closer to home and had more opportunity to hone my writing skills. I still look at that experience as one of the best things that could have happened to me. I might still be crunching numbers and dabbling in spreadsheets for clients if that hadn't happened. I wish you the best of luck in your job search, and am crossing my fingers that the right writing and editing role will find you so you can get back to what you love full time!

Jodi Webb said...

I'm working on a creative project while trying to dip my toe back into the freelancing side of the writing game. One plus from my last I have a host of highly detailed Excel docs to track queries, ideas, markets and just about everything else I can think of!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Jodi, glad to hear you're doing both! :) We can always use freelancers. Email me at angela[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com

D. J. Green said...

For me, I was writing while also working as a self-employed environmental geologist. Then my major client was bought by a venture capital group that cared a whole lot less about the environment. So, like you, work going away made the decision to really switch gears. Now, my first novel will release on April 9, 2024!

Good luck with stepping back on the writing path. And thank you for sharing this story.

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