The End of a Career and Making the Right Choices
On Sept. 27, 2011 I ended a career in the newspaper industry after six and a half years of employment. Let’s just say there were some professional differences of opinion of some management decisions and a certain situation was so poorly handled that it finally triggered my decision to part ways with the company. As the obituaries coordinator and an advertising sales rep, I basically sold advertising to funeral homes and handled all aspects of publishing obituaries for the region. Without boring you with the details of the actual job, while it wasn’t the most glamorous job to have, it was a job that I really enjoyed, particularly in dealing with my business clients (the funeral homes). And before you comment about how it must have been a dead-end job, how the people I worked with were a bunch of stiffs, and start chanting “Bring out your dead,” as an obituary writer, I always got the last word. 🙂
All jokes aside, there was a lot involved in publishing obituaries on a daily basis. There was the death verification process; writing and editing; photo scanning and editing; maintaining the daily death notices column (basically a list of recent deaths with funeral home contact information), keeping up with every visitation, prayer service, rosary, funeral and burial in a 13-county area and ensuring every one of them was published on the correct day with the correct times and locations; coordinating with the editorial department to determine space needed for obituaries; and designing obituary page(s) accordingly. On top of that there was the customer service (both for funeral homes and families of the deceased), payments and collections, selling advertising to funeral homes, (deep breath) and processing memoriam ads. Yeah, it was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it.
So, why did I leave a job that I obviously enjoyed? Since this is a public forum, I’ll answer that simply with personal reasons that many people can probably relate with when the stress level in certain aspects of the job (the professional differences of opinion…I’m being very kind there) just wasn’t worth dealing with anymore.
After leaving a company that I used to love working for and planned to retire from, I found myself unemployed and stepping into the unknown. I didn’t have another job lined up, and I spent several weeks trying to find that right job. Nothing appealed to me in this town. So, I decided to take the self-employment route.
Transitioning to Self-Employment
At the time of my departure from the newspaper, I had been working on building a home-based business (with plans on opening an office at some point in the near future) on a part-time basis. I had actually started this business venture back in 2004 with resume writing services, general small business office support (similar to outsourcing temp work), and Photo DVD production. It brought in some extra income, but I didn’t put a lot of effort into it back then. I ended up putting the business on the backburner after starting my career in the newspaper industry, but now I have decided it is time to seriously focus on my dream of small business ownership. I knew there was a lot of risk involved, a lot of trial and error, planning, and long hours of development. A friend and former manager of mine has also been building a small business since 2001 while working full-time as a human resources director. She is now self-employed and focusing 100% of her effort in building her own business. So, we are now helping each other out. I needed a regular small business client to get the small business office support services “department” off the ground, and she obviously needed the admin support. Over the past few months, things have been working very well with only minor hiccups. We have a great system going that works well for both of us. Just recently, one of my former customers from the newspaper contacted me about helping them with a project. They have a full staff, but they just didn’t have time to create all of the documents needed in house. So, they outsourced the job to me. Today I received word that the owner wants to discuss hiring me on a part-time basis. We have yet to discuss details.
So, transitioning from full-time traditional employment to self-employment hasn’t been easy and has been a bit worrisome at times, and there have been times where I thought I made a huge mistake by quitting my job. However, while I still miss my old job and my customers, the “pros” of self-employment have far outweighed the “cons” at this point of the transition. The obvious negative aspect of resigning from my position at the newspaper is the steady paycheck. While the pay wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad either…not to mention benefits (which, to tell the truth, weren’t all that great anyway). However, the steady paycheck issue may soon be resolved to some degree if everything pans out well with the part-time opportunity I mentioned earlier.
What I have most enjoyed from self-employment has been the fact that I’m the boss (although, I can be a bit of a slave driver sometimes…I worked on a project until 2 a.m. last night!) and determine my work schedule and have a lot more flexibility in prioritizing and managing projects. If I decide I want to work in the evening, so I can take care of other things during the day, I can…all while still meeting any project deadlines. Working on my terms and not having to answer to someone else’s opinion of how they think my job should be done (or even as far as treating me like I don’t have a brain) has reduced my negative stress level to near zero. That alone has been worth it!
More Time for Writing
I think one of the most significant things that has occurred ever since I quit my full-time job at the newspaper is that because my stress level has reached much healthier levels, I have been able to focus more on writing. My participation in #WIP500 has been very successful so far with over 11,000 words written in my current work-in-progress (WIP). Granted these words may not be the greatest, but the story is unfolding at a nice pace. My focus is to just get the story written and then go back to polish it up, rewrite and cut out the unnecessary fat where needed.
It feels great to be writing again and I truly believe that 2012 is going to be the best year I’ve had in a long time. I’m not talking about financially, either. I am a firm believer that money can’t buy happiness and that you can be in a job that pays well, has great benefits, but if you’re not happy, then it’s probably time to rethink your priorities. I would much rather earn less and live comfortably, than be rich, stressed out and miserable. Obviously you need money to pay the bills, and the social aspect of many jobs is important too (one thing I do miss from the traditional ball-and-chain job), so I’m not saying quit your job and become a hermit. What I am saying is that if you aren’t happy with your job, if you have the means to explore other options that will make you happy, I say the least you can do is consider it. If you have a great idea for a business that you believe has a customer base in your area, do the research, and go for it!
That goes for writing, too! If you have a story that has been floating around your head for millennia, it’s not going to write itself. Just do it! Don’t worry about whether or not you think people will buy it or not. If selling the books is your main motivation for writing, then you are writing for the wrong reason.
This brings up another topic, which I will write about in next week’s post: “Why I am a Writer…”
I hope to see you there and thanks for taking the time to read my post. Cheers!
Update: It’s now the middle of 2013 and business has been doing well and throughout 2012 I worked on my first horror-thriller Devil’s Nightmare which I published in January 2013. Leaving my traditional job was definitely the best decision I ever made.
Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!
Pursue your dreams . . . and never look back.
Twitter: Follow @SharkbaitWrites