My last newsletter went out on April 22nd. In it, I shared that I hoped to write and do some interesting projects with the newsletter.
None of that happened.
To be honest, I’ve been feeling lost for a while, directionless and trying to find my way.
To fill you in, let’s do a review of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.
I finished my class in April and had promised my wife to look for a more solid career. Although I enjoy working with students, I always put in more hours than I should and burn out by the end of the semester. And unfortunately, sessional work never pays as well as tenure, so I needed to find something else.
There was a tenure position within the department and I applied, but since I’m a writer and haven’t made any films in the last ten years, I didn’t get far in the selection.
When people ask me what I’m looking for, I never have a good answer for them. I would love to use my skills in writing, teaching, storytelling, and sales in some positive way. I’ve looked at copywriting, but they are often looking for a marketing or communications background, and besides Counios & Gane, I don’t have the experience. Nonetheless, I still apply, but nothing has worked out.
I’m also not looking for a 9 to 5 office job or one where I’m regurgitating the same work repeatedly. I’ve never had a normal job (beekeeper, drive-in theatre manager, film production office worker, locations coordinator for a now-defunct film commission, and scriptwriting instructor), and I’ve usually been active and faced interesting challenges. Obviously, I’m aware this bias is limiting my search, but it is how it is.
Recently, there was one job that I felt ticked all my boxes well. Unfortunately, I received advice to trim my resume down to one page and didn’t communicate my abilities well enough, so I lost out. It still stings.
Despite all this, I still really want a job. I want to contribute financially to the house, and I would like to give my wife a break from carrying that burden. But, as I write this, I still haven’t found anything.
Of course, job hunting hasn’t been the only thing.
At the end of May, my co-writer and I released our fourth book, [Shepherd’s Call], which is a part of our Shepherd & Wolfe internationally award-winning YA mystery series. (I feel like I’m contractually expected to say that all the time.)
We had a fantastic book release party where we had balloons, cupcakes, and beer, and our friends, family, and fans came out to celebrate. We sold a heck of a lot of books—nearly beating our highest-grossing day.
Then a few days later, we had a table at the Cathedral Arts Festival, a week-long celebration that ends with a street fair filled with people selling locally made stuff, music, food, and activities. It’s always been our best sales day, but this year, it broke all previous records with an increase of 60%. It was bonkers.
We’ve tried to do a few other events since then, but Covid-19 hasn’t made it easy. However, we continue to sell books, shipping them through our store, and this has kept us busy.
The other thing that keeps me busy—the thing that I don’t usually talk about on here—is the regular trips up to my mother. She lives four hours away, so each weekend, I leave the family behind and check on her. It’s a two-day trip, and I’m often exhausted, so I need my rest before getting in the car again. I stay at the family cabin located a half-hour from her town.
In the winter, these stays were an experience. I’d arrive in the dark and work to raise the temperature from -30 C to 0 degrees and not freeze to death at night. Now that it’s summer, it’s nice to hang out on the deck and enjoy the sun and nature. I could use some proper internet—especially since I work mostly online—but I make it work.
The travel is exhausting, and dealing with an aging parent can also be hard. My sister and I both agree that there isn’t any other choice—at least for now—so this is the way it has to be. Moreover, this extra commitment makes looking for work a bit more challenging. Yet, I also know that I will make it work, no matter what happens.
Am I really done with teaching?
Initially, I was confident I was. I even reached out to my department head and other professors to tell them as much.
Then I heard from the department that my class was to be offered in the fall and that I was on the priority list. After considering it, I said yes, but in the back of my mind, I knew that if a full-time job came my way, I’d likely let go of teaching for good. Yet, no work came, and so when the time came, I applied for the position.
This wasn’t the only moment to make me reconsider my decision.
First, I received an email from an old student asking for advice on how to get back into an idea he was struggling with. I exchanged emails back and forth, helping him out.
Then, at one of our book events, Angie and I arrived behind schedule. We were rushing inside to set up, and I’d barely rolled the books through the door, when a teenager came up to me and said, “I have troubles with doing literary analysis. Can you help me?”
I didn’t even pause, and immediately pulled out a piece of paper and filled it with advice. Later on in the evening, another person came in—one that I’d helped while I was the writer-in-residence—and I gave her suggestions on how to transition from screenwriting to fiction.
Not only was the universe coming to me with opportunities to teach, but I wasn’t hesitating to help out.
I’m not sure what this all means—but if I needed a calling, this seemed to be it.
So, what’s it all mean?
Frankly, I don’t know.
Teaching doesn’t pay the bills, but I also don’t have any job opportunities in the future.
I’ve got some ideas on how to revisit this website as a way to teach, but I have to do the work to see if it’s possible.
I’ll continue looking for work, but I’m also trying to deepen my writing practice. I want to do more personal posts like this in the future, as well as short fiction to keep me writing.
But an income is the priority, so that’s where my focus remains.