I am a writer.
While millions are celebrating a respite from work today, I approach the three month mark since I’ve been employed.
No, I’m neither a lazy bastard or living off a trust fund. I was laid off in June from the local newspaper I’ve worked at for three years. It was a small paper but we routinely scooped the larger daily thanks to persistence and good sources. About a year after I arrived, the other reporters left for greener pastures in other markets as the economy worsened and advertisers started to bail or fold up their own businesses. I was the last one left and am somewhat stuck to this market for family reasons.
It is hard to believe and harder to accept that I am unable to do a job I am good at. A job I loved. A job where I made a difference.
I am a writer – an unemployed writer.
You hear about the people who get laid off from a company they spent years working at. The job had become their identity and once separated from that identity, they feel worthless and empty. I never understood that until now. I’d finally found a job which I loved, a job which had come to define me. I enjoy telling people’s stories, I enjoy telling the stories that usually go untold.
I am a writer.
I invested countless hours perfecting my craft, reading good writing, learning from people who helped me become an expert at my beat. Oftentimes, I worked late into the night, not coming home until both my wife and toddler son were already long asleep. I frequently missed spending quality time with my wife and son. I didn’t see a problem with it, as I felt that my job required it.
Since I lost my job in June, I’ve come to question my choices. I should have been more dedicated to my family than to a job where I was a dispensable commodity. I knew my wife wasn’t happy about my long hours, but she loves me and she knows I loved the job. As for my son, he is young, so I figured he didn’t notice my absence. However, I can now see that I was wrong.
I’ve spent a lot more time since my layoff and I can tell the difference it has made. It’s a look in his eye, a dimple in his smile, the way he hugs me and lays his head on my shoulder. There is a stronger bond between us than three months ago.
So, while I don’t know what my next job will be or whether I will get a chance to continue my career as a writer, I do know one thing. My next job will not come at the expense of time with my son. I will find a way to maintain this bond.
Yes, I’m a writer.
But, first I’m a father.