Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Write Journey


Get it? It’s the write journey for me…the right journey?

Anyway…

This is my first complete week of writing full-time at home!

It’s incredibly exciting to make this step, but it wasn't an easy process.

About a year ago, when Aaron and I moved to the East Coast, I decided to pursue writing. I loved writing intensively in college (and have been writing for my whole life), but my initial plan after college was to obtain my teaching degree. I spent two years as a preschool teacher, and I’ll always treasure the relationships I made with the kids, but I realized that I really didn't want to become a teacher. I just wanted to write. I began Sputnik Prose midway through my teaching stint in Santa Barbara (although in those days it was Work in Progress).

So I viewed our move as an opportunity to pursue my dreams as Aaron pursued his.

My first job on the East Coast was with a start-up women’s magazine. It was unpaid, but I loved seeing my name and words published online. However, unpaid is not going to pay the bills. I’d toyed with the idea of working in a coffee shop for a long time, and got a job at a local café.

At the café, I was treated like I was in high school. It wasn't all bad; I enjoyed my coworkers (most of whom were in college, not high school) and the food was delicious. But I was spending 30 hours a week in the café, instead of writing.

In mid-October, I started at a local preschool. As I worked part-time, I pursued writing as a career, but my next job didn't arrive until the end of November. However, this one paid me to write about books.

Around February, I realized that I needed to focus more effort on writing. So from February until the end of June, I job hunted wildly, with few results.

Aaron and I estimate the number of jobs I've applied for to be in the hundreds range…as in, more than two hundred. Most of the places I applied to never responded, even after multiple attempts to contact them via phone and email.

Here’s what a typical day looked like for me when I was working at home: I’d wake up, hopeful that this would be the day I’d find a job. I’d brew a cup of Irish Breakfast Tea, flip open my computer, and send a slew of follow-up emails. Then I’d scour my typical websites (Ed2010, Mediabistro, and Journalism Jobs, to name a few) and send applications.

Around mid-afternoon, I’d despair of ever finding a job. On good days, this led to half an hour of yoga and a cup of peppermint tea. On bad days, it led to tears on Aaron’s shoulder.

By the end of the day, I’d realize that once again, another day had passed in which I had not gotten a job.

Of course, that wasn't the end of the story.

In May, I was contacted by Arkleus. I absolutely loved interviewing inspiring people and hearing their stories. Many of them were young people pursuing their dreams as well. I've heard so many incredible stories through Arkleus, and am excited about every article I write for them!

June 30 was a magical date in Cooke family history. I received two job offers in the same day, and accepted both. They allowed me the flexibility to start writing from home, and a few days later, I gave my two week notice at the preschool. As I finished at the preschool and began to write full-time, I often clocked eleven hour days, and worked weekends.

Aaron was incredibly supportive throughout the entire process, and I firmly believe that if I wasn't married to him, I never would have done all this writing. He’s inspired me to be the best version of myself, and to grow continually. He’s critiqued my writing and supported me no matter what.

It’s been an uphill journey to get to this point, but I wouldn't trade the process. A year and a half ago, I doubted that I’d ever be published. Now I’m writing every day (outside when the weather is nice!), getting paid, and practicing yoga on my lunch break. I’m beyond excited that I have the opportunity to do this, and look forward to all that I will learn.

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