Mark Terry

Thursday, May 27, 2010


May 27, 2010
Seems to me I've blogged about this before, but it was sort of on my mind. About a year before I went full-time as a freelance writer, my father passed away. He was in his late-70s and I have to say, given his family history and his overall health, we were shocked. Terry's have had a tendency to live into their 90s--both my Dad's parents did, and his grandmother lived to be 99--and my Dad was in excellent health right up until he got the cancer that killed him.

I think there's a connection between my father's death and my turning to full-time writing. Leanne swears up and down there's a definite connection. I don't know. That seems too simple, like something you'd read in a novel. But... It was building anyway, but Dad's death changed my attitude, anyway, suggesting that life was, after all, fairly short and unpredictable, and if there was something you really wanted to do, you'd better figure out a way to make it happen.

I'm sure there are many full-time freelance writers or novelists that didn't require some sort of crisis to motivate them to making the leap.


I'm not giving away secrets. All these people have been quite public about this... Now, I may have the details wrong, but I have a fair number of writing friends, so...

Erica Orloff was working full-time and got sick and started working out of the house, I believe, and just made the jump to freelancing.

Eric Mayer was laid off from the company he was working at.

Tobias Buckell had plans to go full-time as a freelancer when he was laid off from the university where he worked.

John Scalzi was working as a writer for AOL when he got laid off and rather quickly found out that he made more money as a freelancer than working for AOL.

These sort of stick in my mind. I know a lot of other writers, too, and I don't know if they planned to go out on their own and were meticulous and calculated in their approach, or something shoved them out the plane hatch and they caught a parachute on their way out the door.

And this by no means suggests that I think you can't become a full-time writer without some sort of crisis catalyzing the change.

I do know that a big change in your life often requires a lot of energy behind it to motivate it. Hey, most of us don't want to turn our life upside down.

For that matter, most people are fairly risk-averse--and that's mostly a good thing--and going out and opening your own business, writer or something else, is a risk. Not everybody's interested in that. And that's fine.

So my question is really aimed at you people who have made major changes in your life, whether jumping to be self-employed or something else: was there some sort of crisis that motivated you to make the leap?


Blogger Eric said...

As I often say, losing that job was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I really don't know that I would have left it of my own accord. Wish I could say I would have but I rather doubt it. And even so I can't bring myself to advise anyone to quit a job because things don't necessarily work out.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I was a f/t editor when I took the leap. Working from home made sense because I have Crohn's disease. But the Universe gave me a shove. Well, the Universe and my dad, who said, "Look . . . you can always find another job." (Of course, at the time, the economy was healthier.) I've really never looked back.

8:33 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I think when I realized I wasn't having more kids and I needed something more than mommying in my life.

God that's cliche.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Linda Pendleton said...

It is strange how the creative force can become intensified after tramatic events. In my case, following my husband's death, I wrote several screenplays and books, over the next six years, and after losing my lower leg two years ago, my creativity keeps me going many hours a day. I often think of the Joseph Campbell quote, "We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is wating for us."

And yeah, life is too short...and who wants time to run out when our head is crammed with so many ideas and stories!

Mark, my husband, Don Pendleton's grandmother was Viola Terry, married to Alexandere Davidson Valentine.

Any relationship to your Terry family? I think they were in the AK area.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

No relation as far as I know, although Viola is a fairly unusual name (maybe not in AK) and I thought there was a Viola back in the family tree somewhere.

4:18 AM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

Ya' already know my story, I think. We were planning on it for years. Honestly, swear to God, my calculations said that if we left, we'd come out $500 ahead at the end of twelve months. Considering how slow piano teaching had been lately (although, as soon as I left I got a TON of calls, oddly), that was all it took. But if the calculations would have been the reverse, I'm not sure I would've made the leap, sadly. LOL. It takes a long time to leave safety!e

8:06 PM  

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