Saturday, January 13, 2007

Help me swim, please!

When I was a young girl, I lived about three miles from a local outdoor pool. Jennie and I would bike to the pool and play nearly everyday. We would swim, buy treats, play and eventually bike home at the end of the day. I explored every inch of that pool - up to three feet, that is. You see, I couldn't swim. Swimming wasn't high on my list of priorities, since I had nearly drowned twice when I tried things like the high dive and racer-diving.

Fast forward to seventh grade swimming. Each day, I paddled clumsily back and forth across the shallow end, while my class mates swam with confidence through the entire pool. It didn't take long for me to get pretty fed up with my cowardice and I made a choice. I figured that with 2 teachers and 30 other students present, the worst that could happen to me was a bad case of embarrassment. So resolved, I walked to the deep end and threw myself in.

I came up swimming.

After that, I was a swimming fool and went on to three years on the synchronized swimming team. Well, I'm standing at the deep end again, contemplating throwing myself in. Will I come up swimming? Here's the deal:

Back in Minnesota, I was Communications Specialist for a large financial services corporation. I wrote pretty much everything for my department. Service letters, web page material, phone scripts and special project letters. I really loved what I did and it was a boost to learn that my writing could be profitable, not just a hobby or a talent.

When we moved here to Illinois, I found that there are almost NO options for corporate writing, especially in the financial services arena. I've been unemployed since November and it's really been stressing me out (sidebar: I don't recommend doing Christmas unemployed). I have two very strong options for employment now and I have a choice to make.

My first option is a job as an Office Manager for a collection agency. The job will not pay much at first (less than $25,000 per annum), but the owner has some very high, yet attainable, goals. If I can help her achieve those goals, I know the money will come. It's a new industry and a new experience. However, I know I would do a great job at it. Consider it the shallow end of the pool; the safe zone.

Option number two is my junior high swimming class all over again - at the deep end of the pool. I have been approached by a freelance communications company who is working on a job with my old employer. Basically, they have successfully bid on a project to rewrite approximately 2000 service letters for the advisor side of the business. This is exactly what I used to do, only for a different, smaller department than the one I would be writing for now; in fact, I would be using the same correspondence and legal tools that I did as a Communication Specialist. Essentially, the communications freelance company is doing what I used to do - and I have all the inside info on style, brand, requirements and legal process. Taking on the freelance writing project seems like a no-brainer, right?

Wrong. It's like standing at the deep end of the pool and considering jumping in, regardless of my ability to swim.

See, I think I want to do this for my career. They say everyone has three or four careers in their lifetimes, so I am due for a change. At first I considered taking the $12.00 per hour office manager job and also working the freelance thing for 10-15 hours a week, but the Project Manager tells me the writing project is slated to go at least four months. Now I find that I am considering not taking the manager job and focusing only on the freelance opportunity. If I bid for 30 hours a week of billable time, I can earn anywhere from $50-75 per hour and spend the rest of the time learning the freelance business so that by the time the project ends, I have marketed myself and have a viable business. I must be realistic, though. The job won't start for nearly a month and I need money now. Not only that, but within 5 months, I could find myself right back where I am now - needing a job. I could throw myself into the deep end and come up swimming or I could come up coughing, needing to be rescued and suffering from a bad case of embarrassment.

Here's where you come in: I know there are a lot of writers and entrepreneurs among the bloggers out there. Are you willing to share your wisdom, experience, best advise, etc? Have you been reading my blog for awhile and have a comment regarding my writing? Have you ever started a business of your own? What was your deep end and how did you come up swimming? I truly want to know what you think. If you have a friend who you know would have an opinion, I want to know what they think. Feel free to give them the link to this blog and send them over. Oh, and if you have a longer opinion or thoughts that you don't want to leave in comments, just hit the "contact me" link on my profile to send me an email. Yes, I want your opinions that much!

I am excited. I am scared. I must be crazy, but I am standing at the edge of the pool with my toes curled over the edge and my heart beating in anticipation...

Here are some very encouraging comments I received on this post:
Lisa said...
I say go for the deep end! Ok so you might come up coughing and embarrassed... but then again, maybe you won't! And you won't know unless you jump.
Michele sent me today!

David said...
dive - swim - experience the whole of life ( collection agencies are scum!)
Pray hard and get thru this month with Temp work if you need it. make a move that thrills you, and utilizes your writing skills. I hope it all works out for you. Here from michele ( a wannabe writer)

Ruby said...
Thanks for your comment Blondgirl. I've been slowly coming out of the muck that I was in ( as you can probably well understand). As for your post, I can say that taking that leap of faith is probably going to be the most rewarding but the most terrifying thing you might ever do. It seems from the tone of your post though that you really want to do that though. So I think that you should. Good luck in whatever you decide and I will definitely be back to see how things turn out.

Anonymous said...
Jump. Just do it - if you don't, you'll always wonder, "What if..."
This is my first visit here (which makes it an ideal place to say Michele sent me!) and I have only read this one post. I'll say this about your writing - I'll be back to read more. That should say it all, but I'll spell it out anyway.
It doesn't take a huge writing sample to determine if one can write. Furthermore, that same small piece is usually enough to tell if said writer can keep my attention... keep me entertained. You have that.
I have written a little for a couple of newspapers, a magazine and some freelance. Although I am technically a "professional" writer (I've been paid to write), I don't yet have a great deal of experience. What I have is a lot of passion. If you have that, you can't lose.

Dak-Ind said...
michele sent me

Star said...
Sorry . I have no expertise here. But I wish youluck making your decision. And I usually jump in the deep end. It keeps life exiting.

kenju said...
BG, you know I like your writing, otherwise I wouldn't be coming back here. I think you should take the deep-end-of-the-pool job. You already know you can do it, it will give you a great boost in the resume, it may lead to new and better things at the end of that run. You are young enough to dive in - not sit on the edge of the shallow end - where you would always wonder what if....?
Discover what you can do to make some quick money, and then don't look back.Good luck!

Anonymous said...
Jump in, girl! I know it's scary, but I also know you are incredibly talented and very able to do the job well.
My only concern for you would be that you are able to find other freelance jobs after this one is over. Can you continue working for the same freelance company after this project is complete? As we discussed before, there are other places you can go to get work too. You just have to do the research to find them.
As long as you are willing & able to do that, I say jump!

Anonymous said...
I say Jump. Not because I know that much about what's best, but because I hear in your post that your passion is in that direction. I believe one should take risks for one's passion.

Anonymous said...
Hi Catherine...Snow's Mom here.
I loved the post! This is a huge decision...lean hard on those who know and love you and really pray it through. I'd love to see the dream fly and I'd love to see some security for you. We're on your side!

Mitey Mite said...
One of the greatest gifts is doing work you love. When you have a job that makes you think, if I could afford it, I'd do this for free, your whole life is better. And you know what? Money and success follow that kind of passion.
Michele sent me, and I'm very glad she did. Good luck.

princssis said...
It looks like it's unanimous! JUMP! Looking at just the title of this post, I'd say you know what you want and just want others to agree and give support. I'm afraid trying to do both the office manager's job and freelancing will be too much and you won't be able to do both well. At least, without too much stress. It's a no-brainer for me. You have the skill and knowledge for the freelancing position and it will boost your resume. It's a great opportunity for a first assignment to work on a project with which you are so familiar.

Anonymous said...
Hey Here via Michele ;)
I started up a new business with a friend who I had been doing bits an bobs of work with for 7 Years an we jumped and it has been complicated and hard work and stressful but I would never ever go back.... ;)
Build yourself a strong corporate image and sell yourself heavily, believe in yourself beyond all reason and everyone will believe in you as well never let doubt creep in and you will go far ;)
Good Luck in all

Azgreeneyes said...
Jump in! At the very least, you'll get your feet wet (no pun intended!) and get your name out there more. Plus, who's to say that the company won't open up a spot for you? They will definitely at least have your number for future projects!

Carmi said...
I know I'm late to the party, but I hope I'll be able to share some insight here as well.
I speak from experience, as a writer who's made the jump from comfy corporate life to scary freelancing one. I'd never go back. The time you spend trying to get others to recognize your gifts can otherwise be spent focusing on building business relationships and delivering value. I know it sounds trite, but the first time you meet with a client and kick butt, you know it's all been worth it.
If you're afraid of taking too much of a chance, you could always do part-time office manager work, and then leave yourself enough time to get the freelance work off the ground. It's a difficult transition to manage: you balance the fear of being left with nothing with the fear of not grabbing the big opportunity at the moment that it presents itself.
I speak from the heart when I say that a writer's ultimate destiny is to write. And despite the security of a full-time job, the only real security seems to come from the nib of your pen.
I hope this has helped. Please let me know if you'd like to chat further about this. My ears and my perspectives are all yours.

MissMeliss said...
Here from Michele's this time.
I made the leap from a big financial company to freelancing, and while most of what I'm writing is web content, and kind of tedious, it feels good to be paid for writing, and not be tied to a phone.
Plus, I can work in my pajamas.
And this year, I'm going to get brave enough to write queries about my fiction as well.
Again, I say, JUMP IN.

11:37 PM
Blogger utenzi said...
Your writing is fine, BG. No worries there. However I don't know if your deep versus shallow analysis is on the mark. The free lance job sounds to me like it's not so likely to bring in the bucks you say it should. Given that, I'd say reject that possibility and go with the collection agency. However if you're totally convinced the $50 per hour aspect is true for the freelance, I'd say that's the one for you to pursue. My experience is that freelance might seem on the outside to pay very well, but when the money actually is counted at the end of the month it's just not there. I'd be very suspicious of that $50-75 estimate you have there, BG. Good luck to you either way!
Michele sent me over to watch you dive, BG.

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