(Photo: Bad pun approaching. Anyone who knows me will agree that I can certainly be a Paine, too.)
…or, “what the heck do I do for a living, anyway?” Good question, and I’m asked it frequently. Primarily by friends tired of their day jobs who yearn for something more from their careers but don’t quite know how to get there (Rozella, Giovanni, this means you). I was in the same boat until a friend helped me focus my energies last year. Do what you love and the money will follow–it’s a tired saying, but in my case it’s true. All it takes is patience, consistency, and a healthy leap of faith.
It’s that last bit that seems to trip people up. “I could never do what you do”–I hear that all the time. Trouble is, no two people have the same exact set of gifts. Anyone who sits down and truly tries to figure out their personal balance of strengths will come up with a unique, marketable basket of riches. I wish more people believed that those riches are right there waiting to be sorted out.
None of which explains exactly how I keep a roof over my head. A lifelong writer, it wasn’t until last year, when nudged by a communications-consultant friend, that I realized writing was a marketable skill (I know, I know, but I didn’t). Moreover, the ability to write well is a fungible skill. If you can communicate well on paper, chances are you can get your point across nicely in other media too, like a report, or a press call. Or a blog, for that matter. When I was able to make that leap, I was able to let go of the day job and begin to rely on my ability to communicate, primarily on the Internet.
The faith opened the floodgates. I was invited, or invited myself, to join every outreach project I could get my hands on. My communications colleagues are mostly based in Washington, D.C., so that’s where I found the lion’s share of opportunities. Being a blogger, I knew I could reach out successfully to my fellow Internet scribes on issues of importance to them. But also trusting that I could write a sexy Op-Ed or press release (and, honestly, there’s no room for modesty in the promotion of your own career), I knew I didn’t have to be limited to just web media work.
Best of all, I was able to choose jobs that allied with my personal perspectives: Progressive/Liberal causes, fighting the “good fight” if you will, in the face of seven years of W.’s fascist right-wing Administration.
That leap of faith has led to a very busy year, and more importantly an enjoyable one. Believing what I loved to do could earn me a living–simply believing–allowed me to actually begin to do it. There’s nowhere to go but up from here. As long as I have faith.
Which still isn’t quite to peg what I do. I really didn’t have a succinct description for that until last week. Meeting with a client in Washington, I happened into a discussion about bloggers with Stuart Acuff, national organizing director for the AFL-CIO (it didn’t hurt that I was standing in the middle of the AFL-CIO’s communications department at the time).
In front of God and country, not to mention his colleagues, Stuart christened the nation’s grassroots political bloggers as the modern-day version of the pamphleteers of the American Revolution. It wasn’t his idea; the interpretation’s been around for awhile. But it certainly takes chutzpah to say that in the middle of a traditional (and, mind you, national) media department.
Who am I to argue with Stuart Acuff? I knew I finally had my answer to that oft-uttered question. I must admit, I think it has a certain ring to it. Can I tell you what I do? Sure can.
Pamphleteer of the Progressive Revolution.
Nice work if you can get it.