Losing Myself to Find Myself

From 2009 to 2019, I allowed myself to be pulled in multiple directions: college student (AA, BS, MLIS), aspiring writer, crafter, blogger, Youtuber, ETSY shop owner, reseller on Amazon and eBay, craft show vendor, gardener/homesteader, knitting pattern designer, book blogger/reviewer, full time librarian, and other titles I’ve possibly forgotten.

I rotated through the list of side hustles as I desired or was inspired to do. Some things were seasonal or only needed to be tended to when something sold on Amazon or eBay. Craft shows had definite dates and times, so I could schedule around them as necessary.

However, the strain I felt from the constant jumping to the next thing and self-imposed deadlines for blog posts and YouTube videos was wearing on me. In 2019, I scaled back most of my side hustles due to some medical issues that descended on me in March. The previous Fall, my husband and I had a serious discussion on kids and if we were ready to go that route as well.

It took deciding to start a family and getting pregnant to force me to really think about my priorities and top 3 hobbies. Once my son was part of this world, there would be no way I could juggle all of that anymore. Something was going to have to give…well, many somethings were going to have to give.

My top three hobbies ended up being: reading, writing, and knitting. Reading and Writing go back to when I was a kid. They’re the activities I remember enjoying most as a child. Bookworm was a title I wore with pride (and still do). I always had a notebook with me to jot down scenes or random bits of dialog.

I’d learned to knit when i was 10, but stopped shortly after. I rediscovered knitting when I was in college. It was a wonderful creative outlet for me that didn’t involve writing. I had stopped writing for a few years during college because I was writing so much for my classes I had nothing left in me for my own work.

Reading

I’ve always been a reader. For most of my life, I devoured fiction. As I’ve matured, I’ve been reading more nonfiction. I enjoy a good thriller or cozy corner murder mystery to escape with. My nonfiction tastes depend on what’s grabbed my interest at the moment. Lately it’s been learning everything I can about Dr. Montessori, her method, and how it’s used today as well as books on minimalism. I’ve been alternating books on these subjects. (I have an upcoming post about why, how, and what I did to declutter my house.)

Writing

Fiction was my go to. Many a notebook were filled with pieces of dialogue, rewriting endings and scenes I didn’t agree with. I also wrote nonfiction “articles” as an adolescent where I’d more or less copy something out of a book and cite it.

In 2017, I began to take my writing seriously. Between 2017 to 2019 I’d researched and sent in submission packets to various publishers. All were rejected. In the midst of all that, I’d decided that self-publishing was going to be the way to go for me. After NaNoWriMo 2019, I set about finishing my first self-published work. December 29, 2019, Bobbin Lace: a Modern Take on an Old-World Craft was published and released into the world.

Since then I’ve become more confident and plan to self-publish something every year. In the year of 2020, despite Covid turning the world on its head and having a newborn, I reworked my first book and re-released it. By the end of 2021, I plan on publishing Knitting Alphabet Soup. It is currently in round 3 edits, heading to the editor next, then I’ll finalize the formatting and cover art.

Taking my writing career into my own hands has been one of the rewarding things I’ve done.

Knitting

I first learned to knit when I was 10. My interest didn’t last long because I didn’t grasp the concept that 10-inch needles wouldn’t hold enough stitches to make a decent size blanket. After a decade long gap, I picked my needles back up and began making dishcloths to sell for some pocket money at craft shows.

A few years of craft shows led to my thinking of making this whole thing a legit business. Four years later it was apparent being a legit business was more hassle than it was worth, so I shut the business down. I continued to do craft shows and report the hobby income. When Covid-19 showed up in 2020, all craft shows were cancelled. I would have been 4 month postpartum if the year had been normal, but I still wasn’t sure if I’d actually participate. I spent 2020 and 2021 working on personal projects and tackling a design project I’d wanted to try. Spending time working on personal projects instead of craft show inventory has allowed me to write two knitting patterns and list them for sale on Ravelry.

I still dable in some of the other hobbies, but they are continuously on the backburner. My blog has become a place I share random stuff with the internet. I occasionally make a YouTube video for my TalesFromAPolkCountyGirl channel. My KnittingAllTheBlankets YouTube channel is on hiatus. My ETSY shop is in Vacation Mode for now. Not sure what I want to do with that just yet. Nothings been listed on Amazon or eBay, but that’s okay. Craft shows were shelved because of COVID last year. No word on it they’re going to have the main show I participate in this year.

Gardening in general fell off the radar in my 3rd trimester. No energy and it was comin’ on summer in Florida. I didn’t want to be out there weeding pineapples and under citrus trees. Pretty much everything survived my near year-long neglect, and I’ve been out there a couple of times since my son was born to weed.

I’m still designing knitting patterns. My 2nd pattern is in testing, and will hopefully be up and ready for sale by the fall.

Writing

At one point in time, I contemplated getting a degree in Creative Writing. I’ve had the dream of being a writer since I was four years old, and now that I’m “grown up” I figured I’d look back and see what I would have had to put myself through for this degree.

It is assumed if you get a degree in creative writing that you will spend your days penning the Great American Novel or teaching (2). You are not necessarily boxed in with these two careers, there are other career options out there: advertising, technical writing, ghost writing, family history writer (3, 4). [Link number 5 has a list of 20 careers a Creative Writing major could pursue.] The beauty of this degree program is that you are not limited to any industry in particular.

So what does it take to be a Creative Writer?

Being self-driven and have the initiative to pursue projects on your own is a great start. It isn’t very often paid writing opportunities fall in your lap, especially if you are a freelance writer. Also, being prepared to do a lot of freelance work and sponsored posts you may not completely agree with in order to earn money, get experience, and build your resume. Having a blog, maintaining a posting schedule, and providing relevant content has worked in the favor of some.

Two websites give some realistic advice on what may be like pursuing a Creative Writing Career. “The writer has to stumble through a number of odd-jobs to figure out how much they…need [in terms of] stability vs. flexibility” (2). Stability vs. flexibility could vary from work load to income to paid work vs. personal projects. Link number4 is an answer thread where one of the commenters made a good point about what life may be like for Creative Writers. You have three options: support self via writing; writing is your side hustle while working a bill-paying job; or move where artists are government subsidized. Supporting yourself with your writing is a long and difficult path. Unfortunately, it’s not one most have the luxury of sitting around writing all day. Most creative writers live by option 2: they have an outside job that pays the bills, and writing become either a hobby or side hustle. The third option is one that I feel is radical and may not pay off in the long run. Not many countries subsidize artists. The link has more information on this though. So if this is a change you’re willing to make, please do your research before making a hasty decision.

2014 wage estimate: $28.30 per hour / $58,850 annual income

I did a quick informal interview with someone who pursued a creative writing degree. Here is what she had to say:

Michelle J. Interview:

  1. Why did you choose Creative Writing as a major?

I love writing and plan to eventually be a published author so I thought this would be a helpful and enjoyable BA.

  1. What was your intention with this degree?

To get a BA so I could get my Masters.

  1. Did you research career options and earning potential?

Eventually, but since it was a means to an end, not originally.

  1. Were either in the previous question a factor in your decision?

Yes, it was a BA I would enjoy while checking the bachelors box on the path to masters.

  1. Have you achieved, on any level, what you intended to achieve with this degree?

Yep.

  1. Is there anything you’d like to say to someone considering getting a creative writing degree?

Do it because you love it, not for money, and maybe double major in something more marketable.

  1. Would you go back and pursue something else, knowing what you know now?

No, but I might focus more.

© Cori Large February 9, 2016

Link

Redoing College

How many of you got a degree in something that you weren’t 100% passionate about?

My bachelor’s degree is in General Business Administration, focusing in Accounting and Management. The knowledge I gain from this degree has helped me in the real world, but recently I found myself fantasizing about what degree or career I would have pursued if I wasn’t so worried about the paycheck that came with it.

I came up with four other potential careers or degree programs that I would have like to have pursued if I hadn’t chickened out and gone for the security blanket degree:

  1. Financial Advisor-career
  2. Research Assistant-career
  3. Creative Writing-degree program
  4. Nutritional Anthropologist-degree program/career

Each of these will get its own post, going into detail about the education requirements, potential job placement and income, and why this career/degree program interests me.

If you could go back to college or go to college in the first place, if future earning and job opportunities weren’t a worry, what degree and/or career would you pursue? Please leave you answer in the comments.

© Cori Large October 29, 2015