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MaggieShines
08-22-2005, 01:06 AM
Girls, I know this is going to seem incredibly boring. But I'm at such a crossroads in my professional life right now. I need insights, and my poor friends are sick and tired of listening to me. Well, probably not, but I'm afraid of pushing them to that point. I hope no one minds if I vent here.

I've always been a journalist and, at the top of my game in the early '90s, I quit my job as a newspaper editor and started my own magazine. I loved it; it was the best time of my professional life. It was hard work, but I was so happy. Not punching anyone else's clock, working out of my home office, running the show, spending my days meeting with people over lunches and dinners and coffee at wonderful funky hip coffee shops. Pursuing a personal passion. But after five years, it folded. Broke my heart. The content was great, but I'm not a business person, so the ad sales couldn't sustain it. Plus a personal relationship with my partner went bad, which affected the business. Or maybe it was the other way around.

It took a long time, but after a handful of jobs that I couldn't stand and a way-too-long period of unemployment, I finally am back in the top editor's position, this time at a national magazine. It pays good money, has stability and benefits, allows me to travel a reasonable amount of time, gives me a little bit of celebrity. But it took a lot of clawing and crawling to get back here.

But I hate it. Not THE job so much, but the fact that it's A JOB on someone else's time. Just when I start to feel independent, as though I really have some autonomy, a publisher chastises me for writing a memo in the wrong font or tries to get me to run a story about some company that he's trying to sell an ad to or makes me sit through a two-hour meeting or suggests that maybe wearing purple shoes with black pants is somehow the end of the world or that I am undermining my own authority with my staff by bringing in bagels on Monday mornings. Crap, crap, crap.

Plus, I was just able to hire another staff member and now have two people directly under me to handle a lot of the day to day stuff while I supposedly take on a more managerial role and get out into the industry to represent the magazine more. Sounds like a great idea, but I'd just as soon do the whole thing myself, not answering to anyone or having anyone answer to me. It's just another layer of politics and schedules to get in sync.

There is soooo much I want to do. And I've learned so much about the publishing business in the past few years. I have two cookbooks in the works, a novel plus a diet book (believe it or not) in various stages of writing. I have ideas for magazines I want to start, as well as one for a regional publishing house that would produce three or four different titles focused on life in this area. My sweetie and my closest girlfriend and I want to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teenagers in the city make the transition into adulthood. (Something else I've learned a lot about is the "business" of running a charitable organization, since my job is at a magazine focused on helping people do just that.)

So much I want to do. And not a single thing that has to do with what I actually do every day to pay my bills. And after 9-10 hours a day at my job, I am mentally and sometimes physically exhausted and not all that into working another five hours on another project. That's why my personal writing has suffered too. Plus, most business is conducted during the day. How do I set up meetings with potential advertisers or donors or whatever at 9 at night? Not to mention start-up money is non-existent.

I lay in bed at night trying to figure out which way to turn. Sleep has been so hard to come by lately because of this. I just don't know how to follow my bliss. But at 43, this is the time. My days of daring are long past, so I can't just up and quit and start something on a shoestring like last time. I need a decent salary, I need benefits, I need that 401 (k) and retirement plan. I'm afraid if I fail I won't be able to get back into the business at the level I am now. But I'm just not happy doing what I'm doing. To make matters worse, this is the very first time in my life when I've had to answer the question "why aren't you doing what you want to be doing?" with these words: "Because I'm afraid."

Damn, I'm so sorry about the rant. I can't sleep. I'm facing another Monday and it has me so distraught. Sigh.