Twenty-eight years ago when I graduated college with the highly employable degree of Bachelor of Arts, English and Philosophy (the previous statement has been validated by the Sarcasmatron 9000), I just wanted to get some job I liked to pay the bills while I put most of my energy into my writing. That led to four years of working at a video rental store (there used to be these things called video rental stores) followed by four years of working at Barnes & Noble (there used to be these things called bookstores). I had a couple years at home unsuccessfully pursuing freelance work, and then became employed as a stay-at-home dad for five years.
Shortly after I become a stay-at-home dad, we moved into a new house. About the same time we moved into the neighborhood, a tea shop, called TeaSource, opened up six blocks or so from our house, and I became a regular there, known to the people in the surrounding shops as “the guy with the baby in the stroller.” A couple times I proofed the TeaSource catalog and was paid in bulk tea. I did a lot of the editing of the true crime book Will to Murder there. The owner sometimes joked that I kept the shop open for the first year until business started picking up.
All during that time, from college through stay-at-home dad years, I was realizing a couple things. For one thing, as I did more freelance editing, I found that it didn’t wear me out on writing. I’d never considered a job in publishing because I thought working all day on editing would burn me out for my own writing. But that wasn’t the case. Another thing was that my writing wasn’t selling anyway. So when the kid started kindergarten, I took the plunge and got a day job as an editor. The following year I had a Star Trek story published by Simon & Schuster. Over the next several years I had two more stories and a novella published by S&S, and also had some small press success with short stories in a number of genres. Clearly, editing as a day job wasn’t hurting my writing.
When I was laid off last spring, I plunged into my freelance editing career. Or, rather, I plunged into trying to jumpstart my freelance editing career. It rapidly became clear I was not going to bring in the kind of paychecks I needed anytime soon. And although I had some good stuff going on with my writing, like my upcoming Trek eBook, I really needed to get a job.
There were two ways to go: get back into a full-time editorial position or reinvent my post-college strategy of getting some job I liked while, this time around, growing my freelance editing business and keeping the momentum going on my writing. I gave a shot at the full-time day job, but such positions are few and far between, and I didn’t get either of the positions I applied for.
So this brings us to my new job . . . I’m working part time at TeaSource! That’s just weird. For sixteen years I’ve been a customer, but now I’m brewing tea for people. I can walk to work, and, since I’m only working twenty-five to thirty hours a week, I’ve got good writing and editing time left over. I’m drinking lots of tea, I’m working on my steampunkish novel, and there are other various irons in the fire. It seems 2014 is going to be interesting . . . who knows which way I’ll stagger next.