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Robert asks, "I'm in a strange conundrum regarding my career. I've been searching for "Right Livelihood" my entire adult life. And it's reached a critical juncture. Ten years ago, after graduating from the Univ. of Michigan with an honors degree in history, I started out as a tech. writer at a software company. I had won an award at U-M for essay writing and really considered my "history" degree to be more of a writing degree.ed. So, at 34, I'm starting over. I've decided that I need to be doing something in the way of writing/editing or art (i.e. narrative, filmmaking), but NOT as a tech writer nor as a journalist. What do you suggest I do to start moving in the direction of a career as a writer/editor/artist WHILE STILL being able to make a living?"

Hi Robert,

Interesting story. First of all, you're at the right age to make a change. It's best to focus on new career goals and wean yourself, slowly but surely, from what gives you livelihood at the present moment. Several things to do: Get involved in a community of writers, editors, and artists. It could be near a large campus or a section of the city or, discussion groups on the Net. When you make connection, even informally, it's amazing how things seem to work out. You need to focus on one area to start with. Writing, for instance, which you know is not the easiest dollar to make. By excluding "journalist" you have taken yourself out of the mainstream of writing jobs. However, there are plenty of opportunities in copywriting, script writing, and in book publishing. Go to the library or bookstore and take a look at this book:

100 Best Careers for Writers and Artists by Shelly Field

You have to psyche yourself to get into a whole new endeavor. There's "dues paying," and "rites of initiation," into any new. So, if you can get through it, stay the course, keep learning, keep focused, you can find a way through the thicket. And the area you've chosen is a thicket and challenging. It will test you.

One avenue that does crop up for writers, especially, is a teaching credential. Many writers teach while getting a foundation for their writing career.

The publishing world likes history degrees for some reason. And its from a good University, so you could make a transition into that area. It would be in book editing and, again, there's lots of hoops to jump through. But, the opportunity is there; especially if you combine it with your IT experience. You'd start as an associate editor and work up from there. The rap on book publishing is the long hours, bad pay syndrome.

One thing to do is re-write your resume and highlight all your writing skills and editing skills and design it for writing/editing jobs. Go over your job seeking skills like interviewing. Networking is still the best way to get a job. That's another reason why it's good to get involved in a community where you can tell people what you're looking for and make those happy contacts that will help you.

Just give yourself a few years to make a transition and before you know it, you're in a job you like, doing creative things and going, "wow, life is good!"

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