From Microsoft Layoff to Successful Freelance Career! by Sabrina Zackery

From Microsoft Layoff to Successful Freelance Career! by Sabrina Zackery

Writing has been in my blood from the day my Honors English teacher gave me an A- on my final paper. Up until that moment, I thought I was going to fail the class, never graduate, and my mother would have my head. I did graduate and went on my merry way, living a life full of twists and turns. Subsequently, I wound up putting my writing career on the back burner. When my position at Microsoft was off-shored in 2008, I knew it was time to make a change. That A- from high school haunted me. Since that moment in high school, I had always wanted to be a writer. This was the perfect time to make that dream a reality.

In college, I studied communications and worked in the entertainment industry before I left Los Angeles. I was currently living hundreds of miles away in Reno, Nevada, and I needed to get my foot back in the door. I discovered a training program for script supervisors and enrolled. This career move gave me the opportunity to manage my time on my own terms and work freelance, leaving me plenty of time to read scripts. A script supervisor not only notates what’s happening on the set, but you also must have eyes on the screenplay, making sure that what is written is what is getting on tape. I saw firsthand that both great scripts and not-so-great scripts were produced. When I had downtime, I polished my first screenplay.

As fate would have it, production assignments diminished. I continued to write, but still needed to eat while soliciting funding for my own screenplays. To stay in the entertainment loop, I formed my own production company and produced instructional videos, writing scripts for projects as needed. I supplemented my income through ghostwriting, scribing blog posts, and composing magazine articles. I queried and waited. Got assignments and collected contacts. I kept my eye on the prize while I honed my skills. Then came Chicken Soup.

I wrote an essay about my exit from the corporate world, submitted it, and forgot about it. It’s the nature of the business: you query, you submit, and you keep writing. In this instance, one year to the day from when I submitted, the editor contacted me and my essay was published. And though I was always happy to get paid, this publication was different—this was an opportunity that would lead to more.

The editor was supportive about marketing and encouraged authors to hit the book-signing trail. “Who me? A public speaker?” The idea was certainly outside my comfort zone. The reality was I had time on my hands and I appreciated the vote of confidence. My ultimate goal of selling my scripts still remained and I welcomed the publicity for my website. Outfitted with a smile and an armload of books, I secured several book signings and radio interviews. To my delight, fans of the book came out and supported me. I answered questions and encouraged would-be writers to put pen to paper. Most importantly, I listened. It was an eye-opening experience that made me really think about how I could help others fulfill their dreams—whether it is by writing, or just mustering up enough courage to change careers.

I contacted the local university with a proposal for a class based on my essay. The university was thrilled with the idea of the self-help class, and I prepared a course outline. Then opportunity knocked again. Recognizing my entertainment background, the school wanted me to teach a film class. How could I resist teaching something so close to my heart? I drafted a proposal and, with their approval, I would be teaching two classes in the spring. Stepping up my game, I submitted my self-help and film course proposals to other community colleges in the area and to a major university in Southern Nevada. My classes are now scheduled for the fall semester.

Writing is solitary. We live in our heads and, on a good day, we put words to paper. To be successful, we must continue to experience life; that includes stepping outside of our comfort zones. Had I not embraced the opportunity to promote my essay in Chicken Soup for The Soul (Reboot Your Life), teaching would have never come into view. I’m delighted to have another source of income, and the personal gratification is priceless. You will never know what you are capable of until you step outside your comfort zone.

Sabrina Zackery, born in Los Angeles, California, is the oldest of three girls, raised by a single mom and maternal grandmother, after her father passed away. Following a 20-year career in television and motion pictures, she left California for the wide-open spaces of the High Sierra desert outside of Reno, Nevada. Her company, Mz3 Productions focuses on children and family entertainment. Awards for screen writing include 2013 Eddie Bauer Inspirational Screenplay; 2012 Feel Good Film Festival; 2011 Coalition for Quality Children’s Media and 2010 International Family film Festival. Novels include Real Stories of Spirit Communication 2004; Training the Trainer handbook for The 15 Minute Horse Lesson her award winning instructional DVD and Chicken Soup For The Soul – Reboot Your Life. Poetry is Ms. Zackery’s first form of creative writing and remains number one in her heart. Zä is her first collection of poems spanning over 20 years of personal metamorphosis. Follow Sabrina’s company on Facebook: