“In Celebration of Amazons …” Poster for the Midwest Lesbian Conference and Music Festival, Chicago Women’s Graphics Collective (1974). The Midwest Lesbian Conference was produced by the Lansing Area Lesbian Feminist Collective, formed the prior year.
can you please give me a background in your writing, courses at college or jobs, sorry if this is a hassle i'm just a little lost, thank you
I had seven majors in college, finally allowing myself to do the only thing I loved: writing. But I didn’t want to be a creative writing major, so I was an English Studies major. But I still mostly took creative writing courses. One poetry class, 2 fiction classes, one nonfiction writing class, and a novel writing course. I also took a lot of classes outside the department. Womens Studies, Leadership Development, Multicultural Education, etc. I was all over the place. I followed my curiosity. It helped.
While I was in school, I never had less than two jobs at a time. For the first three years, I was part-time Americorps and also worked as an office assistant, a career center assistant, and a number of other odd gigs. I interned with our Alumni center, our local United Way chapter, and The Midwest Writers Conference (where I’ll be teaching a course this summer). I had a terrible job with an accounting firm, and a great one with a museum called Minnetrista.
When I moved to Indianapolis after school, I worked as a freelance writer, church secretary, and reading tutor in homeless shelters. When my car broke down, I lost the secretary and tutor jobs, and my freelance work dried up at the same time. While I was unemployed, between applying for jobs, I decided to figure out exactly what I wanted to do and pursue it as hard as I could. Of course, the answer I came up with was writing.
I made a list of all the publications I wanted to write something for (I’ve now written for or been solicited by half of them), a list of every idea for a book I’ve ever had, and I read every book I could get my hands on about being a committed artist or vulnerable human or brave woman. I made every part of my life about being who I wanted to be and doing what I wanted to do. I had nothing, and so nothing to lose by putting myself first.
After that time of unemployment everything changed. I had a job I didn’t like much for about two months, and it paid more than I’d ever made in my life, even when I had three jobs! But man, was it soul-sucking. I would leave the job, come home and get in bed with all my clothes on, then I’d just stay there. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t read. It took everything I had to go to that job every day and not walk out forever at lunchtime. I was so unhappy that when a friend offered me the opportunity to come live with him in Denver and not worry about anything but writing, I said yes. I thought the only way I could get the life I wanted, doing the thing I loved, would be to move away. The good thing about exploring the life you want, is having an idea what that looks like. The bad thing (but somehow still a good thing) is having no patience for anything that doesn’t seem to be taking you in the direction of that dream.
Of course, about a week later I was offered a job at another friend’s place of employment. It was a great job as a project coordinator/office manager/copyeditor. It paid less than the shitty job, but not by too much, and it was for a cool marketing company that did (and does) beautiful meaningful work. I loved it. It was so invigorating that I still had energy to go home and write! And I wrote a lot. I even pitched and sold a few freelance pieces. I had fantastic coworkers, a boss who believed in me (even my writing), and the future seemed full of potential. Then Kelly came back to Indiana for a week. And we fell in love in that week. I was so happy. Then I wanted more.
More came to me in the form of a job offer from BuzzFeed.Com. I told my boss I was leaving and she opened a bottle of champagne in her excitement for my new adventure. When I started working there, she asked me to give her a year in the position before I moved on to bigger and better. I thought she was nuts. To me, the job she gave me was as big or better as it would get for me for many years. But she knew. And when I told her my last day would be one weak past the the day I started one year ago, she smiled. I smiled. Then, I packed my things and moved to New York City in May of 2014.
This past Friday was my last day at BuzzFeed. I loved my time there, but it was time for me to move on. I’ll go back to freelance writing, and focusing on a few other book and art projects I’ve been wanting to get to. Also, this coming Tuesday will be my first day working with The Harnisch Foundation. It was through my work at BuzzFeed, my first job in journalism, that I quickly realized representation of women and girls in media is one-sided and lacking. I’m so excited to work for a place so eager to level that playing field. What I loved most about BuzzFeed was the diversity of my coworkers and how that was purposeful, something the company worked toward with intention. I’ll get to help do something similar at The Harnisch Foundation, just in a different capacity. It’s a different dream come true.
That was longer than I meant for it to be, and I still feel like I left our so much, but here it is. Here I am. This is an overview of a story with twists and turns I’m not even sure I remember, and lots of unlikely and surprising opportunities popping up seemingly out of nowhere. If you’re lost, I can say this: try to enjoy being lost. Go where your curiosity takes you. It won’t take you to some paradise of fulfillment and contentment, but it will take you wherever you need to go next. That’s really what all this is about, just taking your next steps toward the next thing, and hoping you get closer to right every time. This journey is meant to go in many different directions. The only way worth going is onward.