Getting and Giving a Second Chance By Christine Laws

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A friend had recommended me to a curriculum publisher. Could I revise workbooks for fifth-grade science? I said that I would give it a try, and soon a big box appeared on my porch.

I eagerly delved into the materials: course samples, manuals on how to design curriculum, workbooks to revise, and the fifth-grade science textbook. The cover art featured a wise-looking owl. Was I wise enough to rewrite ten science workbooks?

After skimming the materials, I kind of doubted it. At the time, I had a rambunctious preschooler and a one-year-old to care for. Besides that, I had never written curriculum before. I would need to cultivate a different mind-set, and learn a whole new set of skills.

Every time I glimpsed the contents of that box, my mind went into tornado mode: Can I find the time to learn how to write curriculum? Will I be able to concentrate? Am I even capable of this kind of writing? I parked the box of intimidation on my bureau and would frequently pull out the materials, wondering how this could work. Then the tornado would start spinning all over again; I had to repack the box to silence the storm. No. I was not cut out for this project – not now anyway.

Then I had to explain my plight to the curriculum director. He understood and apologized for the tornado the box had caused. He reimbursed me for the return shipping and even paid me for the time it had taken to consider the job.

One year later, I felt a little sheepish about my decision; some projects seem so doable in hindsight. But then again, my youngest had turned two, and a year can change everything. Had I made a mistake declining that job? Should I have given curriculum writing more of a try? Although I realized the position would have disappeared by then, I decided to contact the publisher.

On my figurative knees, I explained that now I had more time for a challenging project, and I wondered if I could try something else. The curriculum director asked if I could write a review for a high-school civics course. You can guess that I made sure to follow through this time!

If you have ever second-guessed a decision, remember that there is nothing wrong with asking for a second chance. Maybe that particular position has already been filled, but perhaps something else is now available. Asking for a second chance can greatly benefit your bottom line.

And, sometimes giving a second chance can, too. I had taken on an editing project, and I thought that everything was going well. Then one day the phone rang. My client had called to apologize, admitting that she had accidentally bounced a couple of checks. I remained calm but the tornado roared to life: Will she continue bouncing checks? Had I been foolish to let her pay that way? What will go wrong next?

But on the other hand, she had called to inform me that the checks had bounced. If she had been trying to get away with something, why would she have bothered to call? Besides, she had sounded sorry. I gave her a second chance, but from then on she would pay ahead and with a money order. Live and learn. She agreed, sent the money she owed, and continued to pay her bills for the rest of the project.

Of course, every situation needs to be carefully considered. But saying good-bye to a client is not always the solution. After all, some people are honest but may never have learned how to balance a checkbook. So at times it is profitable to keep the client. I am glad that I kept mine, and I am also glad that a publisher gave me a second chance.

Christine Laws is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader living in Amity, Maine. Read the first chapter of her new book for Christian writers.