Friday, January 23, 2009

Secret 3: Following Your Fascinations

My passion meets my vocation…

In my eagerness to immerse myself in all that is creative and literary, I began my journey for a new career path. What I learned during this voyage was that I lacked the writing experience. Sure, folks have told me that I was an exceptional writer, but where was my portfolio? I had two choices:

(1) take an entry-level writing position, ultimately resulting in a severe pay cut, but gaining the experience and building my portfolio in the blissful world of writing, or

(2) write freelance in my spare time, slowly gaining experience and building my portfolio.

Option 1 was my preference, my creative impulse. But as Gail McMeekin’s points out in the third chapter of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor, choice 2 would ultimately negatively impact others…my family, thus a negative, impulsive risk.

“There are two kinds of risks: impulsive risks and calculated risks.”

With childcare expenses that are equivalent to a mortgage payment, it would be virtually impossible for me to take a severe pay cut, especially in this economy. Asking my husband to take a second job was also out of the question. When would he have time to spend with his children and me?

So…I opted for scenario 2. And for the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to obtain several writing gigs that have allowed me to gain diverse writing experiences, while supplementing my income! But for me, it still wasn’t enough. I desperately wanted my passion as my vocation…full-time. So, I decided to take a positive risk, one that McMeekin describes as challenging yourself, following creative hunches, testing your strengths, and initiating a plan of action.

I embarked on a plan of action that would allow me to infuse my creativity and passion for writing into my current position (Program Officer managing the state’s after-school initiative).

First, I thought of ways that I could utilize my writing more in my position (e.g., prepare and disseminate a quarterly newsletter) and shared my ideas with my supervisor. I was also vocal about my personal interests in poetry and the arts (with just about anyone and everyone that would listen). When the opportunity to attend a United States Department of Education sponsored-training on after-school and the arts arose, I jumped on it. As a part of the training, I would be responsible for turn-keying this information to the state’s after-school programs. Of course, I was more than happy to agree to conduct trainings with our after-school programs regarding the importance of arts in education, particularly in after-school programs.

Next thing I knew, my supervisor approached me about conducting a workshop on infusing poetry into after-school programs at a regional conference! I jumped on that, too. That has resulted in me connecting with other like-minded individuals, along with requests to conduct the same workshop for other agencies. My supervisor has been open to projects surrounding poetry and the arts, as related to after-school programs, especially since national research supports the need for the arts in after-school programs (which I was more than happy to supply to her). Research has shown the arts to have value to learning and academic achievement, as well as to self-confidence and reaching disengaged youth.

So long as I am able to maintain my current workload, I can continue to work on arts-related projects, as related to after-school programs. And that works for me, because it hardly seems like extra work.