The Hazy World of Unemployment

In this strange change-of-jobs time, I find myself sort of wandering around my world bumping into boredom, anxiety, and ennui.* Every so often I feel a wave of gratitude that I can take a 3-hour nap in the afternoon or learn to throw pots with a new friend at her studio in the next county. (Take heart, I’m not enjoying this too much – that wave of gratitude is rinsed away by a barrage of guilt that I’m  not contributing to my household.)

One of the activities occupying my time is networking events. I’ve found a group I like and I’ve been visiting them, learning a lot. Like, I know nothing about business. NOTH. ING. My business plan has been…pass out business cards and do my “real” job until someone calls me for a writing job. I’m also woefully unskilled at sales. You have to be good at sales at least a little bit to sell your small business. It makes me uncomfortable to talk about my VAST WRITING TALENT! and how I can MAKE YOUR BUSINESS BETTER!!! And I do this graphic recording thing which is dang hard to explain in a way that makes people want to pay me to do it.

In an effort to educate myself, I’ve been schooling with all the resources I can find for free – books, videos, podcasts. Stuff on how to market yourself, how to be a better sales person. I read everything networking contacts suggest if I can get it from the library. I go to any free or cheap meetings I can get to.

And I don’t know what I don’t know so I just kind of bumble around so far. A sales coach I met with offered to teach me a system for business but it was going to cost me $400 a month. I’ve no doubt in this coach’s ability but I have doubts in my ability to pay my utilities without that $400 so it’s an unkind paradox.

I haven’t had any interviews for regular jobs. My first thought is, “This is God The Universe and Everything telling me to go, be a writer and graphic facilitator,” but if this is what that is going to be like, no thanks, it sucks.

I also get overwhelmed with there being so many OPTIONS for my time. With wide open days, nothing MUST get done today or it won’t get done ever. I could do any of a zillion things and sometimes I just go take a nap instead. Thank goodness I’m not an emotional eater because if I were, I think I’d be a candidate for some TLC show at this point.








*Ever since Gorey’s Neville died of ennui I have loved that word.


Learning Lessons

Last week, I worked for what I’m thinking of as my first “real” client for my graphic recording practice. It was a nonprofit’s strategic visioning session and I was there to graphically record the day’s events. When I say first “real” client, I mean it was the first time I had to negotiate the whole kit and caboodle from the fee to logistics. The marketing director called and we talked about what I can do for the group, my price, etc. And was that ever stressy!

I am not good at negotiating price when it comes to my work. I know I do a good job, I know I’m valuable, but it’s difficult for me to put a price tag on my time and talent. But I stuck to my guns and was hired for two different day events, one last week and one in February.

I learned a couple lessons. The facilitator had never worked with a graphic recorder and when I called to talk with her about it, I didn’t do a good job of making sure we were on the same page. What I didn’t want to happen was for us to be two disjointed entities in the room – her leading the strategy and me off in my own world. And that’s exactly what happened. She had to be reminded to introduce me, and then she did her own drawings up front.  I take credit for the breakdown. I should have been more assertive about how I wanted things to work and it would have led to a more productive meeting, the client would have been happier, and it would have been a more cohesive meeting overall. But nobody threw a rotten tomato at me which is good…

The real surprise of the day, the real gift from the Universe, was how I ended up with this job in the first place. It didn’t all click together until the very end of the day.

When my contact called me, he mentioned that he’d found me through a staff member. He mentioned her name and I jumped to the assumption that this staff member had been to see an event at the Big Corporation I used to work for and had seen me graphically record a keynote and some other things. I got to the site Thursday morning and spent time setting up, meeting some folks, etc. I’m on my feet pretty much an entire event, thinking, writing, wrangling paper. By the end of the day I’m usually pretty fried. There I was, cleaning up my space and getting all set to drive home in the snow, when a voice said, “You must be the writing spider.” The voice was attached to a tall woman in an awesome skirt followed by a boy. Turns out, she’s my blog friend Ellen there with her son. She knows me from this blog, and I know her from her blog, and we are both Bluegrass writerly-type people.

Like I said, I’m pretty fried at the end of the day. I’m sorry, E, it took me a few minutes for everything to fall into place.

Ellen and I had never met, never talked in real life, but  she sent my info to the marketing director of her organization who in turn hired me to come do this work I’ve been wishing/hoping/dreaming of making a living at. (In another strange turn, I went to high school with the marketing guy.) In fact, I bought a necklace that reads “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” I spent my entire ride home being amazed that this happened. (Well, I spent a lot of time freaking out about driving home in the blizzard of ’11, too.) This is the type of thing I’m asking for from the Universe. Send me people to recommend my work so that I may be paid for something I love doing. Ellen and I had a nice chat before I trudged out into the snow and I’m just tickled that she’s my first blog friend meeting. I hope there are many more.

If you want to learn more about my graphic recording and other stuff, go here.