This is a big week for the Logophilius blog. Now, it’s more than a blog, it’s a business.
Today, I officially announce my new enterprise, Logophilius Editorial LLC, my venture into full-time freelance word work. It’s a step in my career that I take with hope, optimism, and no small amount of fear.
Fear? Absolutely. It’s a big risk, and I have a lot riding on Logophilius Editorial.
Maybe you can find some inspiration in the story of how and why I got to this point:
Forced into a change
After a series of career shake-ups, both planned and unplanned, I wound up as a copywriter at an advertising agency. When I accepted the job, I had been unemployed for two-and-a-half months. Any port in a storm, as they say, but this particular port would still keep me working in words — writing, editing, brainstorming ideas, maybe even using a little wordplay from time to time. Or so I hoped.
I really had no concept of what an ad copywriter’s daily routine looked like.
From the beginning, I didn’t like the job. Far from offering me an outlet for creative work, copywriting seemed to be more copying than writing. I was happy not to be unemployed, but my happiness extended no further than that.
To be clear, it wasn’t the company I was working for. The people there were great. They were approachable and helpful and friendly. I had my own office, where I could listen to music while I worked. It’s a nice place to work, for the right person.
No, the job itself was the problem. The expectations of ad copy don’t jibe with my own sensibilities. Ad copywriting is all about being persuasive, not helpful or useful. And quality in ad copy is judged differently (and by different people) than the quality of the writing I was used to — the kind I want to write and edit. And in my experience, creativity is a tool that is talked about a lot but that ultimately is wielded oh so lightly.
Looking for a change
A while back, a friend of mine told me I was whining about my job too much. And she was right. So I stopped grumbling and started thinking. Complaining about my job was getting me nowhere. I needed to do something about it.
So I did. I watched job boards. I had friends let me know of openings. I applied for jobs what jobs I found. I even sent letters of interest to a couple places that didn’t have any open positions.
All this got me exactly nothing. So what else could I do?
As I saw it, I had a choice:
I could keep doing what I was doing, make a decent paycheck, and be miserable while I hoped for some amazing job to fall into my lap, realizing that every new workday was one more day not spent doing what I felt I should be doing.
Or I could give up the paycheck and the security and go after what I have known for a while would be the only way I could find happiness, understanding that it will be difficult, that the income will be irregular, and that failure will be a constant threat and possibility.
In the end, I made the decision. I gathered my courage and, on a Monday afternoon, walked into my boss’s office and resigned. The next two weeks were a scramble to pull together the resources I needed to create Logophilius Editorial LLC.
Making the change
I’ve been saying for years that I could only be truly happy working for myself. I had been considering trying to build a full-time freelance career as far back as 2004. (Other life events got in the way.) So it was never really a matter of why I would give up my office job, but why now?
I can’t even answer that question precisely. A bunch of elements converged at once: A particularly fickle, demanding, and unrealistic client at work. A financial boost from a few one-off resources. Recognizing the support my friends have been giving me all along. Some inspirational reading (in particular, Jeff Goins’s blog and Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art). The beginning of summer break, and my attempts to help my sons use these months away from school to figure out what kind of adults they want to be.
In the end, I think my paternal responsibilities sent me over. What was I teaching my sons about how to live a good life by setting my skills, hopes, and passions aside and spending my days at a job I hate just so I can make a decent paycheck?
It wasn’t right. Something needed to change, and only I could change it. So I screwed up my courage and took a risk on creating the life I really want to live.
Whether Logophilius Editorial succeeds or fails, I hope that they learn one important lesson from all this: That taking a risk at happiness is better than accepting misery and riches.
By quitting a secure job and going out on my own, I’ve done something either brave or stupid. I don’t yet know which. But at least I can say that I stood up to my fears.
At least I can say I stopped accepting "acceptable" and reached for something better.
At least I can say I took control of my own life. And how many of us can really say that?