Monday, December 20, 2010

My Work

I think some of you who know me may wonder, "What does that guy do for a living?"

I don't blame you for wondering. My career is quite non-traditional, and I have been told more than once, "Isn't it time you got a real job?"

My career as a writer—much to my father's astonishment—began in August 1983, just a few months after graduating from Brigham Young University with a degree in English. I have been an author, writer, editor and publisher ever since, with few deviations.

While I was an undergraduate at BYU, my father once asked about my college major over the phone. He said, "What are you going to do with that?" I told him I was going to get a job as a writer. He said I couldn't get a job as a writer, in an exasperated tone of voice. It was discouraging to hear my father say that.

It is hard when people close to you don't believe in you. But I followed my heart. And proved him wrong.

Since my late teens, I have had a intractable desire to write. It has followed me like a hungry child. It won't ever leave me alone. It keeps pulling on my coat sleeve. I have never been able to ignore it. It is one of those things that never grows old. I never get tired of it.

I began working as a freelance writer in 1987 and I have worked freelance most of the time since then. Much of my work has been technical, and most of the time, I have worked at home. Yes, I have had several full-time jobs in the last 23 years, but I have worked freelance the majority of my career.

This has worked well at times. Sometimes very well. At other times, I am loath to admit, it has not worked well for me or my family. The last five years—well, especially the last three—have not been a glowing success career-wise. I am not proud of this. In fact, it has been quite humbling.

I'll not recount the harrowing details here, but let me just say they have been the worst years of my career. One ward member used to call me "Bishop Job," as in the man of misfortune in the Old Testament.

I don't fully understand how and why things went as poorly as they did these past few years, but I take complete responsibility for everything that happened or did not happen. I don't blame anyone or anything but myself for our misfortunes, but it sure felt like gale-force opposition to me.

A few months ago, when I was still bishop, our stake president said to me in an interview, "As soon as you are released, these troubles will go away."

I was released on Sunday, November 21st. On Wednesday the 24th, I was interviewed for a new contract. It was one of the best job interviews I have ever had. For every question they asked, I had an answer. For example, when they told me about one technology they use, I was able to tell them that I was a member of the technical committee that developed the technology.

I was offered the job (a one year contract), and started a week ago today. It is about as close a match with my skills as any job I have ever had. Even though it is a contract, they guarantee 40 hours per week and they offer full benefits.

I still have work for other clients that I have to finish up or continue. I have about a two and a half hour commute to and from work. I will be under some stress for a time, and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. But in spite of that, I am very, very grateful for this blessing. I deeply appreciate the prayers of my family and thoughtful friends that have brought me to where I am now. It is a miracle to me, especially given the trials my family and I have faced over the last few years.

I am still marveling over our stake president's prophetic insight. I am not sure he even realizes the significance of what he said.

Two weeks after I was released, he invited my wife and I in for an interview. He did not issue a new calling, but gave me an assignment, asking me to fulfill it over the next year. The assignment was (1) to recover my health; (2) to recover financially; and (3) to hold a Sunday-only calling so that I could pursue the first two challenges.

I'll try to keep you informed about how it goes over the next year.

2 comments:

  1. That's a great story, Mike. Best of luck with the new gig -- on my weekly OC-to-SF commute a few years ago it was books on CD that kept me sane.

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  2. I'm so happy things are on the up & up! Hopefully they'll get better and less stressful though soon. We sure love your family and loved having you as our FIRST bishop!

    Love,

    Mary & Paul

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