There are times when you just have to say, “What the hell,” throw caution to the wind, and do what you want, even if doing so seems a bit risky, somewhat irresponsible, and/or somewhat pie-in-the-sky. I stepped up to that precipice, felt the crumbling cliff beneath my toes (yes, I type barefooted), and gazed into the unknown of my own future. That was in 2008, half a year after I had signed on at Associated Content. But I was ready to walk the cliff’s edge.
I had my reasons, not altogether sound. I hated my job (retail manager). And I hadn’t made much more than a few hundred dollars each month since I’d started with Associated Content. Oh, and I had had this nagging dream to be a writer, an author, a wordsmith since I was in elementary school. So I quit my full-time job and started writing full time for Associated Content.
Did I mention that I had almost nothing in savings and roughly $3000 in bills every month? Needless to say, it was sink or swim. Oh, wait… wrong metaphor. It was be productive and step back from the edge or lose my precarious perch and go over the edge into the yawning chasm of massive debt.
I’m happy to say that writing for Associated Content provided me with just enough green rope to pay my bills and keep me from looking for another full-time job. The site also gave me the opportunity to do as I wished (as long as the wish was writing — and it was), to write about what I wanted, and paid in a timely manner (plus the monthly bonus for page views). I liked the set-up. Pay me up front for my work, then pay a bonus for people reading my work. The challenge would be producing the material to stay away from that crumbling ledge.
And I’m doing so, finding the challenge rewarding, and breaking a few records at Associated Content along the way. (This is the part where the “Theme From Rocky” music comes in, then makes that scratching, abrupt ending sound…) But I’m not going to beat my own drum (besides, I don’t own one. I’ll let Associated Content protect my modesty by doing it for me in their listing of 2009 People’s Media Awards).
So what’s my point? There are many avenues by which writers can pursue their passion: journalism, freelance, blogging, content writing, novels, poetry, essays, etc. Associated Content is one of those places that provide a place for many of those avenues, with the freedom to build them the way one likes. I found Associated Content an opportunity and I took it. I began creating avenues, writing about the news, current events, sports, a few poems. And those avenues have led me back from the ledge.
But I didn’t make the journey alone. I had constant encouragement from many of my writing colleagues at Associated Content. People like Ryan Christopher DeVault and Ali Canary, Charlotte Kuchinsky and Lori Lane, Mike Thompson and Roz Zurko, David Reinstein and Abby Greenhill, Jennifer Wagner and Carol Bengle Gilbert. There were and continue to be many more. And it is that sense of community that helps one through the hard patches — the writer’s block, the uncertainty, the frustration of technical issues — as well as the good.
And then there was Tim Skillern and the editorial staff at Associated Content. It was Tim Skillern that asked me to concentrate on writing news pieces for Associated Content. And it was that concentration that began to pay off over time, so much so that I contemplated, then actualized quitting my full time job. And it was that paying off that helped me make the decision to follow my life’s dream of writing.
It helped me step back from that crumbling ledge of my own uncertainty.
This is not to say that everyone should throw caution to the wind and make a seemingly reckless gamble with one’s life. Far from it. But it is a testament to pursuing one’s dreams. And if following your dreams entails writing for pleasure and/or profit, writing a little or writing volumes, then Associated Content is a great place to submit your work.
And you can go to work barefoot…