When I recognized my anniversary of starting to write the Enchanted, Inc. books, I realized that there’s another anniversary around this time of year. It’s not directly related to writing, though it did sort of pave the way toward where I am now.
Around this time twenty years ago, I was working at a PR firm and got invited to lunch by a former client. It turned out that she’d gone to work for a different agency, and she’d been working on an account I used to have. We’d been working with a division of a large company, but the large company decided to consolidate all their public relations into one firm, and it was that other agency. Now that they had my former client, they wanted to hire me to work on the account.
I was really unhappy in my job, and I’d enjoyed working on that account. The client had become a friend (we’re still friends, and she helped me find a lot of work when I went freelance). An interview later, and I had the job. I set a start date for the beginning of November, figuring that would give me time to work out my notice and have a bit of a break, and it would be after most of my new office would be coming back from a trade show (since there wasn’t much point in starting a new job while all my coworkers were out of town). But when I gave my notice, they made me leave the next day. That wasn’t too surprising because people tended to just disappear at that company. The surprise was that they let me have that next day so there could be a going-away lunch. More often, the person giving notice was made to clean out their desk that evening — under supervision, so they couldn’t take anything relating to their clients with them — then walked out the door. Their office door was kept shut until a meeting was held the next morning to announce that they were gone (usually with what we’d later learn were lies about why they left — everyone was always supposedly fired because they just weren’t working out, but when I ran into those people later I learned that they took another job). I’d anticipated something like this, so I’d cleared most of the stuff I wanted out of my office before I gave notice.
But this meant I had a three-week break between jobs, during October, which is my favorite month. It was wonderful. I took a trip to Austin to meet up with some college friends. I took a few day trips around the area. And I took a lot of long walks around my neighborhood. I did some writing, finished unpacking (I’d moved into this house that summer), and read a lot. It was wonderful, and it was hard to go back to work when it was over. I remember thinking then that this was what my life would be like if I could ever just be a writer and not have to have a day job.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve lived up to that ideal. I don’t really take advantage of my freedom in a positive way. When you have all that time, it’s easy to waste it. Of course, there’s far more work than I was doing then. I was just playing around with some story ideas, not writing on a deadline. I wasn’t having to blog or maintain a social media presence or stay on top of sales numbers, or anything like that. But it would be nice to get back a sense of that freedom that I had then, making the most of the time I had and enjoying all the moments. Every year, I keep saying that I’m going to try to take the fall off to enjoy it, but I always end up with deadlines. Maybe next year. Or maybe I can do better at striking a balance, getting the work done and using my spare time on things I enjoy instead of refreshing Twitter or looking up random things that have popped into my head.