I found an old memory book a few weeks ago and let myself get submerged in my past. Big bangs, neon scrunchies, and shirts that said “Princess in Training” dominated the photos. I saw old class photos where I had drawn big red X’s over my enemies and photos with a big red heart over my crush. Some had both. I thought it was interesting that each grade year came accompanied with a fact sheet. I had dutifully filled in who my best friend was, my favorite movie and song, a few other random details about my life, and finally – what I wanted to be when I grew up. From second grade on, my answer remained the same – “author.” Sometimes a more glamorous position would be written in – actress, supermodel, ballet dancer – even the occasionally “mommy” made it on the page, but “author” never disappeared.
Since those dream filled sheets have been filled out, I have worked many different jobs. My first real employment was making pizzas at a Papa Murphy’s. They were not impressed with my acrylic nails. Then there was dressing room “recovery” at a department store during the holidays. I have since learned to loath a messy dressing room. Then my favorite job – working in a concession stand at an event center. I worked with my best friend, my mom, a cousin, and made some great friends at that job. And I met a bunch of hot hockey players, bands, and comedians. And got to eat free food. Then I had my college jobs, where I often worked at multiple places in an effort to not bury myself in student loans. The college gym – terrific job. I could do my homework, work out, and again I worked with some amazing people. A hotel clerk – another awesome job.
I loved my work there and meeting so many different people. A hospital, a restaurant, a bank. I did time as a travel agent, on my own and for a company (I have my AA in travel and hospitality). I managed a massage clinic at only twenty years old, where I had over twenty employees reporting to me and it was my responsibility to make the store run smoothly. Then there was my internship with a wedding planner. Super long hours, my weekends were full and my arms ached from carrying chairs, tables, and other equipment around, but it was incredible to see a wedding start with a seed of an idea and end so beautifully and with such joy. And now, after all the jobs, resumes, interviews, crappy shifts, uptight bosses…I can call myself an author.
I remember just a few years ago feeling so frustrated with myself. I couldn’t find a job I was truly happy with. I loved traveling – I thought a travel agent was for me. I loved going to spas – running a massage clinic should have been my calling. I have an obsession with weddings and love watching all the wedding shows – why wouldn’t I want to be a wedding planner? But nothing stuck. Nothing gave me that sense of satisfaction, that contentment that I thought should come with my career. But now, I have finally figured out why I put myself through so many jobs.
Experience. Sure, I have real-world experience and job interviews are helpful to go on, but I have writing experience. I can write books with the main character as a wedding planner. I can write books with the MC as a travel agent or a personal banker or a hotel executive. I can take what I learned and observed from all those jobs and write stories about them. Some true events might find themselves published (all carefully fictionalized, of course). Instead of having to do hours of research on the job background, I can pull what I learned from hands-on experience.
I’m grateful for all those past jobs. I took something away from each one – a friendship, a funny story, and a lesson. I can’t to wait to incorporate more of these into my books. My second novel is due out around April/May of 2012, and the main character is the owner of a salon and spa. Do you think I pulled some of my experiences as being a massage clinic manager and put those into this book? Of course. I feel really lucky that I never gave up on what my second-grade self wanted, and I’m happy to finally say I love what I’m doing.