Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What I Do...

   I've been invited by my old high school to participate in a "Career Day" next week. My first reaction was, "hey, this will be kinda fun." So, of course, I agreed to come. But now, I'm experiencing several different thoughts.

First, it really is cool that I get to go back to my hometown and talk to kids that are a lot like me at that age. Writing and editing are not career choices on the beaten path, and, I think, it takes a pretty unique person to think "That's what I want to do!"

My second, and least important, thought, is "how the heck did I get old enough to be a guest speaker at a high school???" I just graduated like a year or two ago. (Okay not really, but still...)

But mostly, I'm wondering what to say. "Run while you still can! Only the completely insane want to be part of this maddening business," is probably not the best way to start the conversation. Don't get me wrong. I could talk all day about how awesome my job is, all the perks and just plain fun I have. But I think that to be fair, I should also point out how hard it is to break into the writing world. How many years most people have to work, with zero results, before it pays off. And even then, the payoff isn't typically that great.  Best seller lists, movie deals, and piles of cash are not things most of us will ever see. And honestly, I'm 100% fine with that. (If it ever happens, I'd be fine with that too, but...) I love what I do. And I don't want to squash the dreams of the next potential J. K. Rowling by coming off like being an author is anything short of the best job in the world.

So how do I find that balance? I know I'm probably over-thinking this, but I'd like to hear your suggestions.


  1. I think you should just be honest. I have heard many writers pontificate to young people about how hard it is to be a writer, and let me tell you, finding my way into professional editing was, for me, a series of really awesome and lucky accidents, and happened in midlife, not right out of college.

    So... be honest. I would say don't try to terrify them, like certain authors of my experience have (I will not name names, as I am sure they thought they were helping), but tell them *your* experiences in trying to get into the business. Share *your* story, and maybe use examples from your colleagues who give permission. For instance, if you want, I can shoot you an email with my general path if you think it would be of value. But the main thing I want to say is to just be honest about how *you* did it, and the challenges and joys *you* have experienced.

  2. Yep I think Vikki gave you some awesome advice--tell them your story. It's okay to let them know that this is a hard path, but also talk about how it feels to see your work in print and being enjoyed by others. You got this :)