Re: techwr-l Out of Work Tech Writers

Subject: Re: techwr-l Out of Work Tech Writers
From: "Dori Green" <dorigreen00 -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 09:33:54 -0400

Out of money but never out of work here; "writer" is who I am, not just what I do.

I keep writing when between paying gigs -- most not-for-profits are glad to have some help with grants and brochures and other documents. And websites!

I am not on welfare right now, I am researching my next book and analyzing the local assistance systems that leave a lot of people falling through the cracks. I happen to live in a 12,000-population town where the major employer has laid off 4,000 people in the last two years and just announced that another 1,000 are going bye-bye. The local agencies are overwhelmed and floundering.

I've discovered that if welfare insists that you do workfare, it's possible to locate your own workfare gig with a school or NFP. You're still only credited with a minimum wage rate, but at least you can make a writing contact and you're writing instead of just cleaning the bathroom for a town highway department. That's meaningful work of course but it does not move the career forward.

Don't agonize, organize. Volunteer at the local job service office to facilitate an informal job-hunter's support group. If it's successful (people drop out because they went back to work), put your efforts on your resume!

Look at everything you need in a job. Is it money? Go for the biggy contract work at $45-$50 and stay in a campground until you get the first couple of paychecks. Is it permanence in order to get a home equity loan to fix the roof? A local administrative assistant or computer help desk job at $15 an hour might be the better choice.

It can be paralyzingly depressing to be out of work for a long time. Take advantage of being poor enough to qualify for free mental health assistance. Don't worry about being a bit loopy; we are writers and are expected to be loopy. If they offer medication and you're okay with the idea, take it. If you're not comfortable with that idea, ask for therapy without medication. They'll usually honor such a request if your general behavior is acceptable. Seriously -- if the thought of a permanent solution to the temporary problem has crossed your mind even fleetingly, get professional help right away.

Receiving a diagnosis of depression can have its advantages. Check with the state labor department; such a diagnosis can qualify a person for educational and other assistance from the Office of Vocational and Educational Support for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID). In some cases this support can include full tuition and incidental financial assistance for a Master's degree or Ph.D.! At the very least, this might be a good time to let them help with free tuition for some computer courses at the local community college (JavaScript, anyone?).

Finally, I've found it very useful to look at the dream behind the dream. I'm presently a finalist candidate for two local jobs that might just make my heart sing for the remaining ten or fifteen years of my "working life".

And last week I planted a four-acre garden on the fifteen acres that's paid for free and clear. On Saturday I'm looking at used campers just in case the bank does take the house. It always pays to have options.

Dori Green
Corning, NY

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