For the last few years I’ve been very creative about stringing together a modest income while working from home for the sake of my kids.
I ended my career in daily print journalism before the wave of layoffs started to clear out newsrooms across the country, and by some miracle I’ve managed to continue on as a weekly art & craft columnist.
I launched a very small weaving loom business in 2009 and then a 8″-square magazine in 2010. Everything I do is small on purpose. At this point in my life I have no desire to do big corporate things.
Paperwork and bureaucracy drive me crazy and I can’t stand spinning my wheels writing reports and proposals when I know a decision can be made quickly and we can just cut to the chase and start doing the work – immediately. When one of my ideas bombs, I quickly move on to the next one.
In an unplanned turn of events, I let the wind blow me into an adjunct teaching job advising a local community college newspaper and teaching the classes that go along with it. I was not looking for a job at the time. I’ve taught college writing courses previously and I knew it would be challenging and it has been to the max.
At least a half dozen other people turned down the job before it was offered to me so there were numerous red flags including ridiculously low pay and the undeniable fact that the journalism field is in a sorry state. But I decided to do it anyway.
Well, sometime back in August of 1994, I walked into the basement of Anspach Hall on the Central Michigan University campus with a three-ring binder full of my best clips. Those photocopied newspaper articles represented my collected work from my first 18 years on the planet and I was eager to show the editors and get my name up on the reporter board. I had finally made it to college and I couldn’t wait to get my byline in CM LIFE, the campus newspaper.
The next four years challenged me as I moved up the ranks from rookie reporter to editor-in-chief. The many late nights I spent in that newspaper office drinking too much Pepsi and eating Cheerios straight from the box while writing and editing shaped the course of professional and personal life. My adviser was excellent and I got to work with many talented young journalists. I went on to marry one of them. And now we have two children. It turned out be a pretty wonderful experience.
So, when I was asked to step in and help keep a local journalism program going, I knew I was in trouble. My college journalism experience was life changing. How could I say no?
Moments after my car spun out of control on an icy highway in 2004, I decided to make a few changes. I decided to start doing the things I feel compelled to do for as long as I feel compelled to do them no matter what the pay. If I think I can make a difference somewhere, that’s what I’ll do. And when I’ve given all I can offer, I will move on as quietly as a loud-talker can. : )
I’m not about to suggest that I’m the best journalism educator out there, but – in this case – I’m all they’ve got. My plan is to do my best to shift the program focus from print to new media and then kindly turn over the reins when it’s time for me to move on to my next challenge.
So, for the meantime, I will continue to stay up late drinking too much Pepsi and eating Cheerios out of the box while I read student writing and do my best to compose thoughtful notes to inspire them to take their stories to the next level. And I’ll do this while the wonderful man I met at my college newspaper and our beautiful daughters sleep upstairs. I’m really thankful that my life turned out the way it did and I guess this is my way of giving a little something back.
*** Please note that CraftSanity loom production has been slowed by my teaching schedule. And my CraftSanity Magazine work has been interrupted a bit, too. But I’m still plugging along with very tired eyes. Thanks for your patience, everyone. I just can’t seem to ever put my own projects first. ***