Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
A: For the majority of my income, I work as a writer, but every few months, I try to work as a Certified Nursing Assistance in the healthcare industry. In 2005, I obtained my certification, and I, now, have nearly 10-years taking care of other people. During the past two-years, I decided to dive headlong into my creative side. If I had to describe myself using three words, I think I would have to choose outgoing, determined, and energetic.
Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?
A: As far as my ethnicity goes, I am a proud, Caucasian and Native American man, and I have rarely run into any problems in finding a job; however, I have found myself in a situation where my sexual orientation became an issue. Respectfully, I resigned my position from that employer, and I moved on to another hospital, a lock-down Psychiatric facility. I had thought about filing a lawsuit about the discrimination, but with the current laws in Texas, I knew it would a difficult road. I decided that I didn’t need to have discrimination from that employer hanging over my head forever. I feel that my decision made an immense impact on my life and my attitude; it made me stronger and more resolved in showing others my work ethic.
Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
A: Today, when I go to work, I get to work from home for the majority of my writing, yet when I’m working as a Certified Nursing Assistant, I have to get up at the crack of dawn or as the sun is beginning to set. I spend my days as a CAN bathing, walking, assisting in eating, and providing perineal care for my patients, who I value as my friends because I feel like I have something to learn from every person. Many times, I use my experiences in the healthcare field to give me passion for my writing. Many fail to understand that I actually do have a job working as a writer, and I’ve heard nearly everyone I know tell me that writing isn’t a real career, but I get to make my own schedule; I sit at my computer creating the content that everyone sees as product descriptions; informative pieces about every imaginable topic; and I even write some popular news’ pieces. I wish I could show everyone that although I don’t have a boss hovering over me, I must provide the best writing in the hopes of impressing clients, editors, and publications. I would like for people to know that just because I don’t leave my home as often, I still have to dedicate myself to work for up to 12-hours each day in order to make a decent living.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
A: If I had to rate my job satisfaction on a physical scale of 1 to 10, I would probably place my satisfaction at a 9. I am satisfied with my job, but I know that my bills will be arriving every month. Unfortunately, my pay varies greatly from week to week. This week, I find myself debating between paying the gas or electric bill. If I could improve my income by about 70%, I would be able to achieve that high-level of satisfaction I want, but in the interim, I get most of my satisfaction from knowing that I get to do something I enjoy: I get to write. With the amount of dedication I have put into getting up and working for a minimum of 12-hours, 5 days per week, I should be able to hit my goal before Christmas arrives.
Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
A: My writing moves my heart in ways that I would never have imagined. For a long time, I felt like my words were wasted as I went to work. I could write about all the things that happened, but no one really seemed to take notice. When I open up my laptop, I get to enter my own world where what I write is of the upmost importance. In fact, I wrote a piece about the early evaluation for mental health disorders, which greatly impacted my heart because it came as my own true story of dealing with my mental health. When I write, I finally am who I want to be.
Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
A: I don’t really think that there is anything unique about my job today. I get to do something that I thoroughly enjoy, and I get to do it at home.
Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
A: It might surprise some to learn that I didn’t randomly decide to start vigorously pursuing my writing. I found my writing career by accident when I had lost my ability to work due to my health conditions. In less than two-weeks, I went from working at the hospital, to being confined in a bed for most of the day. I was weak and felt horrible, and I knew that I needed to find something before I lost all hope in my life. Although I found my writing career out of necessity, I wish I had put the energy into it much earlier when I was 18 or 19. It would have made my life much less stressful compared to what I have done in the past, and it may have helped me avoid getting so sick.
Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
A: I learned the hard way that I couldn’t please everyone in my writing. I felt like I could write anything, but over time, I found that I had to learn more about some topics. It happened one day when I got into an argument with a local store about the best way to write an advertisement. I knew I was right in my grammar, but the manager disagreed. Eventually the district manager came in and told me “if we want it this way, you need to comply, or you can just leave.” I decided to just stop writing for that company, and it has cost me a large portion of my work. It was really an eye-opener for me that I didn’t know everything. I guess I finally grew out of my teenage, know-it-all attitude.
Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
A: Outside of school and the working world, I learned one of the most important lessons in my life: never dwell on the past because it should stay in the past. For a long time, I felt a horrible animosity towards myself for my decisions, which resulted in my poor state-of-health. When I came to terms with my diagnosis, I realized that I shouldn’t take anything for granted, and I would live my life to the maximum every day as much as I could.
Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
A: One day while writing a piece on a new medication, I decided to go to the store to pick up a few groceries, and when I returned, the article had an additional paragraph written at the end. Now, I know that no one came into my house while I was out, and I didn’t write it. To this day, I don’t know what happened, but I think my Dad is still with me when I write. It was the strangest thing I’d ever experienced.
Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
A: I get up and go to work each day because I want to contribute my own voice to the world. I want to be a part of the advancement of civilization, and I’ve had the honor of becoming the writer and editor of a new, local LGBT newsletter. Nothing has ever made more proud than doing something to help other people who may be going through the same medical issues I am.
Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?
A: I face a variety of challenges, many of which have to do with making a financial return on my work. Some days, when I just feel like I can’t get the words out as deadlines draw near, I want to just stop. I find myself wishing to win the lottery, but eventually, I realize that I have to be realistic and rational.
Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
A: The stress in my job varies depending on the extent of my work. Some days, I have little stress like the proper spelling of a strange word, and other days, I find myself practically pulling my hair out because my prompt doesn’t make any sense. I want to run and scream about it; sometimes, I do just that to clear my mind. Since I get to stay home for my job, I have no problems maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and I am always comfortable. I can sit in my pajamas all day, but I feel like I get more accomplished when I get dressed-up in a suit and tie. Since I have become ill, I try to make sure I spend at least two-full days with my family, and I don’t work on these days off.
Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
A: For my position, the salary varies from anywhere to $1,000-$3,000 per month. I am able to make sure I pay my bills with my current salary, but I would like to have some extra money for those upcoming rainy, or snowy, days.
Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
A: I believe that vacation keeps me sane, and I make it a point to take a full-week off every three months. By taking a vacation of one-week this often, I get to enjoy my life, and I am reminded that life can’t be only about work. I think I get to take plenty of vacation, and I’m planning on taking an extra week off this winter.
Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
A: In order to work as a writer, I have found it best to have completed college coursework to fine-tune my grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills. While it’s possible to work as a writer without any advanced education, having an education makes it much easier. As for my other job as a CNA, I had to complete a year-long course on direct care of patients, and I have had to make sure I didn’t get involved in any sort of legal trouble.
Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
A: If a friend of mine were to ask me about my thoughts for getting into a writing career, I would recommend getting started immediately and enroll in a few courses, even if the courses are online. After all, the world will always need writers.