I've been a writer since I got my first diary at age 10, but this is a story about how I made writing my full-time job.
I was working in a remote office as a sales rep for a dysfunctional videoconferencing company, along with one other person – a young guy who liked to goof off all day and meet women on Craiglist under the guise that our company was hiring. As I look back on this short-lived (three-months-long odyssey) job, I can see so much that was wrong with it – from the person who recruited me to the company itself, never mind my weird colleague.
First of all, the person that recruited me was someone I knew from the office building where I had worked previously in marketing and PR for a technology company. I had left that job to work in telecommunications sales, which was a blast! I made good money, but there was some channel conflict and issues with the technology working in my assigned territory.
Second, Recruiter-guy was in sales at a company that had some relationship with the videoconferencing company, which was trying to expand into the Boston area. This company still exists, I just checked, though I doubt they do anything with videoconferencing anymore since even the company they were reps for has been bought out. Besides, who can’t use Zoom, or Skype, or Facetime these days? I really don’t care to Internet-stalk them. I really don’t care at all because it has been almost 20 years since this happened.
The deal was that the videoconferencing company would hire two sales reps and sublet office space (illegally, I am sure) from Recruiter-guy’s company. Recruiter-guy told me it was a great opportunity. “You’ll love it! It’s a more professional position than selling cell phones! It’s a stepping stone. Blah blah blah.” At that time, I came to wonder if Recruiter-guy’s company was having financial problems and needed the additional income from renting out two offices (they were more like supply rooms or closets, but no need to split hairs).
I took the bait job. It wasn’t until I drove to the home office for help with an RFP that I realized how truly dismal the situation was. Not only had we not had any training, we had no leads, no marketing support, and very little technical support, which I needed because I had no idea how to answer that RFP for one thing. For another thing, there weren’t any women in sales positions in that company. And another: we were expected to cold call basically out of the yellow pages. I wanted to tear my hair out. (I felt so naïve, but you don't know what you don't know.)
The day I walked out was the day I learned that the company was sending my colleague to a sales training, but not me. (I am not sure what they had planned for me but it may have had something to do with marketing because I had pointed out that we really could use some.)
I hadn’t been treated equally from the beginning. My
I walked out
It was a Friday afternoon and I packed up all my personal stuff and called my boss. I was irate but I kept my cool as I told him I quit and why. He tried to tell me blah blah blah and I told him it doesn’t matter anymore. Goodbye. I noticed I was immediately shut out of the company network. “That’ll show her!” I’m sure he thought. But I had already removed any of the files I cared about from my laptop. I left the laptop with someone I knew and trusted at Recruiter-guy’s company (I wrote up a receipt and asked him to sign it) and walked out. Recruiter-guy wasn’t there that day and I don’t remember if I ever saw him again either, and at that point I am sure I didn’t care.
Now, I don’t recommend doing this. It’s irresponsible when you have bills to pay. However, I was single and I had money in the bank and I wasn’t afraid to get a temp job because I had previously found temping to be a good way to figure out what I wanted to do next. That was how I had switched careers from retail to technology several years prior.
It just so happened that I had been doing some occasional writing and editing for my mom, who had been working with DIGITAL on a consulting basis. Sometimes she had extra work and needed another pair of eyes.
She told me she had a few things she could use my help with, so that is what I did the following Monday. I started writing articles for a magazine, then datasheets, then customer testimonials. I wrote direct mail pieces and brochures, and once I wrote a software implementation manual. We worked with different organizations within DIGITAL and then expanded our horizons to design firms who needed writers. I stayed on, one project after another for three years, until...
The technology industry was kind of volatile around 2000, and consulting felt a little precarious. I knew how to bid on work and we were plugged in to the agencies that helped us land projects. My mom decided she wanted to go back to corporate America, which she did, and left me to run things. (My least favorite parts were dealing with accounting and taxes.) It worked out fine for a couple of years, and I had gained a new client because I did work for the company my mom went to work for. But my bread-and-butter client, DIGITAL, was bought by COMPAQ and then HP. As the company headquarters moved further west (from Massachusetts to Texas to California), my projects started drying up. I still had a couple of clients, but skipping ahead past the part about my ugly divorce, they were not consistent enough to count on. One of them wasn't even a writing client: It was a company I did B2B telemarketing for (from home).
I decided I, too, should go back to corporate America.
Incidentally, that horrible job did not stain my resume, which lists “Relevant Experience” not “Entire History of My Working Life,” in which case I’d have to go all the way back to the time I worked as a busgirl at a long-out-of-business restaurant. My resume is only one page long. No one has time for more than that.
My point of re-entry was as an inside sales representative for a technology company, which led to more than 10 years of sales and marketing roles until I returned to writing.
I'll write about my career detour and how I came full circle to writing full time again in my next post.