A to Z Challenge 2013

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday - I've Finally Decided

I don't remember if I've mentioned this before (primarily because it's not completely writing related) but I've been pondering where I want to go with my professional life. You see, I'm currently a govt IT worker and while I get paid decently enough, I find it no longer fulfilling like it used to be.

The problem with making good money is that switching jobs might mean making less - something that can be difficult when you're supporting a family. I have spent the many weeks since graduation examining where I am, where I'd like to be, and figuring out what it would take to get there. I take my role as my family's provider very seriously, and I have included my wife in all my thoughts and musings.

I decided on basically three possible courses of action. I could remain where I am and retire in another 16 years. I've worked there 16 already, but because of my age, I can't start receiving retirement for some time to come (age 55). This is a sobering thought, because I'm fairly certain I don't want to do this type of work for another 16 years and there really isn't anywhere to advance to.

Another option I have been considering is going back for my Masters degree. I could either go for a Masters in IT - Security or choose a degree in an entirely new direction. The IT degree has some great benefits, one of which is that the program fulfills the basic certifications required for employment by the National Security Agency (as well as other comparable security employers). Such a degree might open significant doors for me.

A third option I have been weighing is working towards becoming a full time writer. This is what we'd all like to do, isn't it. Be able to sit at home and just write all day, in our pajamas no less. There are significant drawbacks to this choice however, most importantly the lack of benefits of any kind (i.e. medical, 401K, etc). I know there are plenty of you out there who do it all the time (and probably make a decent enough living), but this one scares me more than any other.

Last but not least, I have been considering a mentor position working for Western Governors University - the college I recently graduated from. You see, every student at WGU is assigned a mentor that guides them through their degree and helps keep them focused, all the way through to graduation. I was extremely impressed by my own mentor, and I have thought for some time now how much fun that would be. I have also thought how fulfilling it could be, helping people make it through college. The kicker of course is that the entire school is online, so (after a 4-6 month training period at WGU) I would be able to work from home. They also have great benefits, which satisfies the provider in me.

In the end, I've decided I am going back to get my Masters degree after all. I haven't decided WHICH one I will go for, but I'm scheduled to talk to an enrollment councillor soon. I have also decided that I will keep my options open, but I will either be using my degree to go somewhere security related in IT or become a mentor. It will just depend on what opportunities present themselves when I am done.

Don't worry though, fellow writers. Despite the fact that currently I am discounting becoming a full-time writer, I have no intention of stopping. I am just not ready to bet my family's farm (so-to-speak) on it. If I do manage to write a best seller (that sells millions of course), you can rest assured that my plans will change once more. I will continue to write every day, and I will probably still take a writing class here and there where I can.

I feel much better now that I've made a decision - now that I know where I want to go. Kind of ironic, isn't it? In my real life, I like to know where I'm headed. I like to know that my world is safe and secure. In my writing however, I'm content to let the story go where it will, no matter what dangers it holds for my characters. Kind of funny, actually.


Davin Malasarn said...

Eric, I feel you. I'm in the exact same place. Well, okay, not exactly, but close. I'm at the point in my career where I need to decide on what my next and more permanent job is going to be. I've been spending a lot of time looking and finally applied for a teaching job at a local community college. But, I'm still considering a bunch of other options. It's hard to think about trading a good point about a job for a bad one. I've never wanted to be a full time writer, but there are still many options out there I have to decide between. I'm glad you've made your decision!

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Sounds like a wise decision to me not to go full-time with the writing yet. Good luck pursuing your Master's degree!

Eric said...

Davin - And here I thought you had abandoned The Muse. Glad you stopped by again though. A teaching position, huh? I've thought about that kind of thing as well, though it would have to be at the collegiate level for me too. Whatever you do, I wish you the best of luck.

Sandra - Thank you. If I were a single guy, I might do the writing thing full time, but not with my family depending on me.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I'd love to be a full-time writer. Until then I'm hanging onto the other popular option: winning the lotto. :)

Congrats on the decision about your Masters. You never know where it will lead.

Eric said...

Karen - I'm right there with you. If you do win a huge pot, remember us little people languishing in the depths. And thank you, I'm hoping it leads to bigger and better things.

Suldog said...

Well, Eric, that's the great thing about being active in something creative. Generally, you don't have to commit to it full time in order to reap some sort of reward from it, whether monetary or just pleasurable. Even while doing it on an 'as able' basis, the possibility exists that you'll hit a jackpot. It's more so if you're full time, of course, but still possible.

You're being smart about it. No need to throw away the many years worth of government service in order to pursue your dream. You can do both, if you budget your time. And, if you truly go bughouse and can't stand it any longer, you can always chuck it later and do the writing gig full time. There's no time limit on that (other than however many years you've been allotted for life!)

Jamie D. said...

Good for you. You have to be practical, after all. That's why I'm still in gov. IT myself. And I'll probably stay here until I can either go full time with writing, or retire, unless something better pops up. At least this job gives me time to work on my writing here and there.

Good luck with your masters - you have far more fortitude for continuing education than I would. :-)

One thing on the gov. security jobs - often you don't *need* a masters if you have enough other equivalent experience, so that's something you may want to check out. Could save you some time/money in the long run if you could get in without one.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

You made the right choice. I'll be honest, I don't think I'll ever go full-time writer. Even if I manage to get to an income that I'm comfortable with, I still want to be out there in the world.

But I really credit being able to finish a book with having a full time job. First off, the financial security helped bring order to my life, which was key in finding the time to write. It's difficult to focus on something like writing if you're always worrying about where your rent is coming from. Second, having to go to a job makes my writing time even more valuable. I squeeze every last second out of it. I think if I had all day to horse around, my productivity would go into the toilet.

I know that some people take that dive and make it work, but I think you made an awesome choice. And I don't think making that choice means that you take your writing any less seriously. In fact, I think it will help you appreciate it even more. :)

Michelle H. said...

A very wise decision. If the opportunity arises for me to become a full-time writer, I would take it. But I'm strictly thinking of myself on this one; I have no family to support. Your situation is more complicated and you must think of others also in the decision. Keep your dreams close by, but never lose perspective.

Alexis said...

A wise decision is worth more than a pot o' gold!
I too have big dreams of making a living writing. Since I write poetry and my name isn't Dylan Thomas or Walt Whitman I write for the love of it.
Congrats on your decision to get that masters!

Eric said...

Suldog - Thanks for stopping by. You're right though, that I do have time later to choose to go full time as a writer if I want. Wouldn't that be awesome, if we could all do that?

Jamie - It is true that I might be able to get a job without the degree, but I recognize that there is still alot I have to learn in that realm, and I don't mind going back to school. I'm actually pretty excited about it.

Shaun - Well coming from you, the walking success story, I can take hope. If you've been able to publish your book all while maintaining a full time job, I can too. Thanks for the inspiration.

Michelle - I keep in my mind the "fantasy" of writing full time, but yeah, I have to stay grounded with the reality of bills to pay.

Alexis - Thank you for stopping by. I really admire poets like yourself. That is one form of writing I've never really been good at, though I guess occasionally I have a moment of inspiration for poetry. I wish you luck with your poetry. While I can't write poetry very well myself, I do enjoy reading what others can do in that arena.

DEZMOND said...

I love when people are advancing, going ahead, improving everything they can, so I congratulate you on the decision to get the masters!