Somewhere deep inside, buried underneath a husband, two children and a full-time day job, a writer was trying to escape. For years, I kept that pen woman under wraps, but once the kids grew up, I decided to unlock the door and let her out…only when time permitted.
Ten years ago when I began freelancing at night and on weekends, I had no idea what I was doing. I blindly answered ads and sent out query letters that were amateur at best. But the oddest thing happened – I sporadically received assignments and got paid to write them. Spurred on by my modest success and hoping to improve my skills, I took several online writing classes through UCLA Extension. I built my confidence and earned a screenwriting certificate in the process.
During that time, I also wrote a book detailing the history of my home town, Farmington, Michigan, for Arcadia Publishing’s ‘Making of America’ series. It certainly didn’t hit the New York Times Best Seller List, but it was a great thing to do for the community and it looked good on my writer’s resume. Besides, the experience of putting a proposal together and developing a book from beginning to end was invaluable. My book was well-received by the locals and remains on the recommended reading list for area students who are interested in learning more about their city.
Fast forward to January 2009.
My employer, intending to downsize, offered a buyout. The weekend-writer thought it was a great idea, but the long-time employee wasn’t so sure about cutting those familiar ties. Subsequent to much debate, the weekend writer won. After 38 years with the company and with some trepidation, I accepted their offer of early retirement. The weekend writer, however, assured me that ‘retirement’ was not in the cards. We were switching careers.
I have since been fortunate enough to find a terrific agent who in turn found a great publisher for my book, Bringing Up Oscar, The Men and Woman Who Founded the Academy. It has been a heady ride, but listening to my weekend writer, who now writes full time, has allowed me to realize a life-long dream. Looking back, I’m so glad she escaped – I couldn’t have done it without her.
Debra Ann Pawlak lives and writes from southeastern Michigan. Her work has appeared in many online and paper publications. In addition, her new book, Bringing Up Oscar, The Men and Women Who Founded The Academy, will be released by Pegasus Books in January. Read more about Debra HERE.