I am a part of a very tight group of friends, 90% of whom are either unemployed or underemployed. For the past several months to a year, as our youngest children have moved out of diapers, we have been applying to every job imaginable, sprucing up our resumes, networking-networking-networking. We are all in our mid thirties to early forties. Our youngest kids are in preschool or early elementary. We come from college educated backgrounds, with many of us possessing graduate degrees or other specializations.

And yet, except for a few of us, we can not get work.

We meet for lunch every couple of weeks, rarely talking about our children. Instead, we brainstorm about every possibility that could lead to employment. “Did you send your resume to Y?” “Are you going to sign up for X class?” “Would you be willing to work the 2nd shift?” “How far is too far a commute?”

We are thankful, grateful, appreciative of the fact that we were able to be stay at home parents for the early years of our kids’ lives. We are even more grateful that our spouses earn incomes which pay for our households. And yet, we are desperate to go back to work.

I include myself in this group, though I haven’t exactly been looking for a job. But for the past two months, I have been looking for an agent for my novel. It’s been a year since the agent for my anthology (which never sold) told me that an editor was interested at Z publishing house, after which that editor never responded. It’s been a year and a half since I wrote two picture books that went nowhere.

I’ve spent the past few weeks applying to three summer writers residencies. I’ve been reading and re-reading websites for low residency MFA programs. I’m having a really tough time writing my next novel, not because I don’t know what to write, but because I’m overcome with anxiety about finding an agent for my first novel. I’m terrified that this book will lead to another dead end.

For the first time in the past seven-and-a-half years, I’m regretting leaving law to pursue writing. I’m wishing I worked just a little longer, so I wouldn’t have such a huge gap on my resume. I’m wishing I didn’t decide to be a writer at the exact same time the entire industry collapsed.

I’m wondering how the hell to get back on track.

So I’m thankful, so very thankful, for this wonderful group of friends, all struggling with the same thing, all supporting each other.


15 thoughts on “Wanted

  1. So important to have friends during this time. Here in Washington State- there are so many who have lost their jobs- and others who cannot find a job and they are the sole bread winners. This is not an easy season.

    Don’t give up as far as the writing- stay on track- I’ve heard of numerous people who have tried and tried to get their books published and all it took was ONE person who sees it– just keep getting it out there…so that ONE person can see it!! I admire all those who can write fiction!!! Keep doing what you are doing- we are cheering for you.

  2. Only crazy people decide they want to be writers… or is it that being a writer drives sane people crazy? Hang in there, Anjali! If you love writing, then it was never the wrong decision to pursue it. And even if that first novel doesn’t sell, it wasn’t a dead end – it was practice to make you a better writer so that second WILL sell. Take a deep breath and write! Now if I could just follow my own advice…. 🙂

  3. I’m with Connie…have you ever read any of Madeleine L’Engle’s books about being a writer? She wrote about how many times publishers who rejected A Wrinkle in Time met her at events and said, I wish you’d sent US that book, it’s right up our alley. Getting published the traditional way is the lottery of the right reader on the right day.
    Actually, so is getting a job. Mine was such a fluke I don’t even have advice to offer except to say, hang in there, keep going, and fear not the gap. A friend with a 16 year at-home mom stint just found a job as a nurse in a doctor’s office that has a track record of hiring moms returning to the work force. They have a lot of kids who come through the office and find that their parenting skills are useful.
    Your resume might lack paid work but you were an unbelievably great co-leader of a growing mothers’ group, putting in place a board that still has some women thriving who are there from your tenure. You were able to convince businesses to contribute in-kind donations to the group, and create an atmosphere of respect and thoughtful parenting in a chapter that currently thrives even as the national group struggles with retention.
    And that’s just one thing. I wasn’t there to see which initiatives you spearheaded at your kids’ schools and in other places. You have excellent, professionally relevant experiences that you can list.
    But I hope you stick with the writing. I think if it’s where your heart lies, it’s where you will thrive.

  4. Please – don’t ever give up! I saw this woman on Anderson yesterday – a young woman who could not get her book published, who did not give up; and just look at her now. Self-publishing does not have the stigma it used to, and is actually doing far better in the publishing world than people ever dreamed. Her story is so inspiring, and you can read a little about her journey here:

    Even if this isn’t the way you want to go, just never, never give up – you never know when that opportunity will present itself. I’m hoping to finish my very first novel this year; and although I’m still undecided which way to go with publishing, I’m definitely investigating every option open to me.

    Wishing you all the best! ~ Julie 🙂

  5. Yes, the economy showed a lot of us the downside to staying home. But as a wise friend tells me often, we need to wait patiently. The industry will figure itself out.

  6. Oh, MemeGRL, thank goodness you’re always there to give me a boost. I’m thrilled to hear the story of the mom with the 16 year break! It does give me hope.

  7. Thank your words of inspiration, Julie! They are very much appreciated. (And thanks for the link–it’s a great piece!)

  8. I’m glad you have the support you need — even “virtually”! I don’t even know what to say after reading so many rich, encouraging comments… well, maybe I should say that you have all you need and everything will be fine, even if things don’t follow the course you’ve wanted them to or planned.

  9. Hang in there girl – there is someone out there that wants to publish your book and there are people out there that want to hire all of your friends! Keep looking!!! A friend of mine got back into the market after 4 and a half years….

  10. Thanks, Lillian! And I’m glad, too, that you are a success story for those of us who haven’t quite gotten back into the game!

  11. You’re very welcome!

    Thanks for your kind words, though I’m not the “success story” I want to eventually be (= employed full time, doesn’t need to be tenure track), but I really am very happy about going from zero income to 20K/year (just got my w2 today) in such a short time. And I’m enjoying teaching more and more, which feels just great!

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