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Big, Enormous News! (And A Story)

In which I quit my day job.

Well, hello, you.

Those of you long-time readers have probably noticed that over the last month, I haven’t been writing a great deal, and perhaps you have been wondering if something was up. Had I given up writing? (as if ) Was something going on with me? Well, yes. Something has been going on with me. Something headspinningly huge, and awesome, and scary, and also something I wasn’t at liberty to talk about yet. So instead of writing, I ran around making a lot of appointments, and waving my hands around in panic and/or excitement, depending.

You see, the week before Christmas, I quit my job to go full time on APW. My first day of working full time on the blog was Tuesday. This is what my workspace looked like at 9:30am Tuesday morning:

And no, none of this has sunk in yet.

To answer your first question (everyone’s first question), no, David does not have a job yet (though he does go to court and wear a suit a lot, so we do count him as pretty lucky in this economy). But. There comes a time where the endless martyrdom needs to end, and the risks such-that-there are need to be taken, and leaps of faith must be made. So here we are, leaping.

Let me back up the time-line and explain things a little better, now that I’m not under contract for an employer, and I feel like I can.

When we moved to San Francisco, I took a job as a research writer in an investment bank. The story of how I took that job is too long for this post, but suffice to say: New York theatre jobs were quit, New York temp jobs were acquired, boss at said temp job thought I was the bee’s knees, San Francisco jobs were offered, shoulders were shrugged and new jobs were taken. It always helps to learn a little more about how to read a balance sheet, right? Yes.

So, there I was, at an investment bank, writing about “the most boring sector in the world, banks” in 2007. And then this small thing happened, called the global financial meltdown, and there I was on the front line, writing about banks. Not the plan at all. Also planning a wedding, which was far more part of the plan, but I was doing it in a world where $100,000 weddings were the norm. Hum.

I was really stressed. I was crying a lot. David suggested I start a blog called A Practical Wedding. I did.

And then the financial meltdown really took hold. The afternoon that Lehman Brothers collapsed, I was sitting on our couch, blogging long pushed to the side, with my company laptop in my lap, my blackberry sitting beside me, CNBC on the television, trying to write and crying. Because rather unfortunately, I understood what was playing out across my TV screen, and just how bad it could get. David bundled me up and drove me across the Golden Gate bridge that day, sat me on a rock over looking the bay and the city, and told me, “See that? Even if our money is worthless next week, that city is still going to be standing, and we’re still going to be alive.”

And that’s when I decided this experiment in working at a bank? Not the best experiment. Unfortunately, I had a husband in law school, and bills to pay, and I didn’t have a lot of choices. But I could write, here at APW, and write I did. And write, and write, and write.

About this time last year, right after our trip to New Orleans, it became clear to everyone (me very much included) that writing about bank stocks was not for me. It also became really clear to me that I wanted to write on the internet for a living, d*mn it, but that I couldn’t make that happen working 6 am to 6 pm (yes, those were my real hours.) So they offered me as an overpaid secretary,* and I took it. And let me be clear, that was one of the hardest choices I’d ever made in my life. Being a secretary as I turned thirty? Not exactly what I had planned for myself.

It was, however, extremely motivating. (And I was paying the bills, d*mn it, which was something to be proud of.)

So last spring I re-launched APW. That seemed like the first step towards getting my already-pretty-well-read-blog taken seriously… but there was this little catch I didn’t see coming. The work tripled. I went from APW being a really fun hobby, to APW being a full time job, when I already had a full time job. I stopped having any free time. I kept getting really sick from the nonstop working. (And let me just add, lest this sound like a sob story, one of those times I got really sick? We were flying to Italy, so clearly things were not *too* awful. There are upsides to working way too much.) All of this time, I kept my fingers crossed that David would find a job… soon. And he didn’t (nobody we knew did).

And then Mighty Summit happened, and my take away from that weekend was, “F*ck it. I’m just going to make this thing happen.”

{Picture: Me at Mighty Summit with a little message from the universe.}

So this fall was a non-stop to-do list. Get interns, check. Get an accountant, check. Review and update my business model so I can support a family, check. Get quickbooks set up, check. Meet with the accountant to set up a budget, check. Hire interns as staff members, check. Get an office.

Oh, did I mention? I actually have an office. Of my own. That I go to, to work for myself (more on that coming soon).

So here we are. This morning I’ll get up at 7, I will get dressed in jeans and boots and a cute sweater – because I can wear that to work now – and go to my office. I’ll panic a little bit, trying to decide how crazy I was, exactly, to decide to support two people working on an internet website that I made up myself. Then I’ll shrug, make myself some tea and I’ll get to work. And so it goes.

So what is going to happen to APW you ask? Well, nothing much is going to change right this second. This site has been a full time job for the past six months, so the first thing I’m going to do is work on it during the day, and try to spend time with my husband at night and on the weekends, and sleep. Oh, and I’m going to start working on answering the last six months of emails you guys sent me. Sorry about that.

Over the next year, I’m excited that I’ll get the chance to begin growing APW into the more-comprehensive-life-resource-for-smart-and-funny-ladies that we all know it can be. I’ll expand the Reclaiming Wife section, I’ll bring on new features (the return to the How-To column is the first of those). APW will keep growing, but its focus and message is staying exactly the same: you can build the kind of life you want for yourself, no matter how much money you have. The only difference? I’m actually going to be doing that for myself now too.

Oh, and because I’m me, I’m going to keep right on blogging about my life (that’s what Reclaiming Wife is all about, right? Our lives?) Which will mean telling stories about building a business, now and then. I know there are tons of you who are trying to figure out what you want to do with your professional lives (Been there. That involved a lot of crying for me), and are considering building businesses of your own. So if you have questions for me, or stories you’d like me to tell, just let me know. I’ll be here writing.

And till then? Cheers. You guys made all of this possible, and I’m sitting here in my office, in my very first week of self-employment, toasting you.

*Here is the thing about being a secretary: everyone always tells you not to use the word, and to say “administrative assistant” instead. But, well, I was a secretary, and I find that, as we discussed yesterday, there are power in names. So to those of you out there secretary-ing? My hat is off to you. I know exactly what it entails, and I know it takes a special kind of grit (and some blog reading) to make it through.

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