Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Pondering a career

Ten years ago this June, I was hired for my first full-time job: tech support on the Help Desk for the University of New Hampshire.

It was a job that taught me a lot about myself and most definitely led to the place I'm at now (including in one very unexpected way, which I'll explain in a moment). By 2000, I'd started to think I didn't want this career path anymore. The office politics were getting me down. My new husband and I were starting to talk kids, and I knew I didn't want to have to leave a 6-week-old in daycare to commute two hours every day. A lot of people I knew had given up on their dreams to follow the stability of a steady job. My boss's boss, for one, had a Ph.D. in Forestry. He'd been in computing since I'd been a student. I can only assume he stayed where he was to support his family.

Meanwhile, a couple of guys I knew were still actively pursuing their dreams. Martin England worked part-time on the loading dock, stocking computers and peripherals for the campus store. With the other part of his time, he was writing songs for his band, Pondering Judd. Likewise with two of the workstudy students on the Help Desk (Short Bus band member Pat Curry now plays with The Whatnot).

By then I knew I wanted to write for a living, so I began to look for a way to go part-time. Miraculously, a part-time coworker was looking for a way to earn more money but keep her mother's hours. My 80% time job fit her needs. Her 50% job fit mine. We switched, and I started to write. A year later, I decided to quit for good and write full-time.

In a startling example of things coming full circle, Pondering Judd has once again led to work for me. Last month I submitted a story to Shroud Magazine, a new horror market. Editor Tim Deal checked out my website, where my bio notes Marty's influence. It turned out that Tim had been involved in the Seacoast New Hampshire indie music scene. Not only did he know Marty, he also knew at least one of the workstudy students I'd worked with. Also, he'd worked as a cop, and we share a fascination with zombies. So, he asked, would I consider working as Shroud's assistant editor? Absolutely.

It strikes me that most of my jobs have come about because of people I know. A former associate editor I once worked for recommended me to the PR agency I work for. Editing for New Leaf came about because of a friend who worked with the owner. And I can’t count the number of contacts I’ve made through the crime fiction community.

This year, along with my PR work, I'll be blogging for a startup Maine parenting site, writing articles for its companion magazine, and working on Shroud. I'll also continue with fiction, and, of course this blog. In fact, another one of my contacts recently invited me to join a Wordpress community of other creative moms. (It’s live – come join us!)

It's funny, because as introverted as I am, I've still met a lot of people whose help has moved my career along nicely. I've even been able to make recommendations for people I know, to pay forward all the favors I've received. If there's one thing besides talent I would want to mark my career--that would be it.


Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

Good going, Sweetie. You are inventing yourself as a 21st century Mom and writer.

2/1/08 7:41 PM  
Blogger Stephen Blackmoore said...


That is great. Looking forward to checking out Shroud. This year is the year for it to all come together.

2/1/08 10:46 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Shroud sounds fantastic! I've got a couple thiongs out I think you guys would dig -- they just might end up on your desk...

3/1/08 9:53 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

"Thiongs"? Ouch. See -- I could use a decent editor!

3/1/08 10:22 AM  
Blogger Patti said...

Sounds like you're starting off the year with a bang! Great!

4/1/08 10:15 AM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Thanks, everyone! I just completed my first page proof of Shroud and must say I'm really impressed. I hope to see something from all of you, if you're so inclined!

And Chris, as long as that's "things" and not "thongs," I'll be glad to see them. ROFL

8/1/08 10:06 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hatadi said...

Like Stephen said, this year is THE year for it all to come together.

10/1/08 12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although it brought me "comfort" to know that Christa and I shared some acquaintances, the fact of the matter is that her eye for detail and acute sense for good storytelling makes her an incredibly valuable asset to Shroud. In all candor, she has offered her talents to me far below their fair market value. I hope she continues to help us out for many years to come. Thanks Christa!


16/2/08 9:32 PM  

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