A few weeks ago, my favorite Internet writer, Mark Evanier, launched a series of articles teaching aspiring writers how to cope with rejection. If you’re not familiar with Evanier, in addition to his popular blog, he’s been a successful TV, film and comic book writer for his entire career. So, he knows of what he writes when it comes to rejection. He’s faced and overcome a lot of it.
The part of his introductory article that interested me the most, though, was his defining the distinction between a “job” and a “career.” Evanier wrote:
A career is something that fits into this sentence: “When I grow up, I want to be a ____.” A job is what you do to pay rent and buy groceries if and when you aren’t able to become whatever noun you ever seriously put into that sentence.
He draws a very good, vivid distinction between the concept of “job vs. career.” Although, I think he’s missing a third option:
It’s entirely possibly to find one’s career while working through jobs.
Like Mark, I had dreams of growing up and becoming a writer and a filmmaker; and for many years I primarily made my living through writing. It wasn’t writing in the way I had always imagined I would be doing, but it was writing and I considered myself mostly as a writer, whether it was professionally for other websites that paid me a salary or if it was for fun on my own movie news and review website.
But, considering myself as a writer and thinking to myself that that was my “career,” I missed a large part of what was actually my true “career.” The only thing, though, is that my own personal career definition isn’t super well-defined. However, I am what I am.
And, what I am is an Internet guy.
The Internet didn’t really exist in the way that we know it exists until I embarked on my professional career. My first “job” was in the print industry; which I took while patiently also working away on what I thought I wanted my career to be: A professional movie screenwriter. But, it was also at that time that a friend got me involved in writing for his website, which I considered a hobby between the day job and the aspiring screenwriting.
However, after the print magazine went away and put me out of work, I got my first professional Internet job for a TV listings website and I struck out on my own at creating my own website, again, thinking it was just a hobby.
At the TV listings site (it doesn’t exist anymore), I wasn’t initially hired as a writer, but that became a large part of my work there. As far as my own web project back then, I did have to learn a minimum amount of code, but I always did the coding just to serve the larger purpose of putting my writing online. (This was before free blogs existed that handled the code for you.)
Since those days — we’re talking the early Aughts — up until now all of my professional jobs have been for Internet websites, most of which I thought of myself as primarily a writer for them, even though my “jobs” entailed all sorts of different things, including basic coding and asset management.
Also, over the years, while working on my own websites, I accumulated more and better coding skills: HTML, CSS, PHP, jQuery, all because I felt a drive to present my writing in the best possible way online. However, because I acquired all these skills on my own projects, that I now take on freelance work building and modifying websites for clients.
While I still enjoy writing — in fact, I’m writing this on a break from coding websites for clients — it’s not how I see my professional life anymore. Currently, my career has landed me as the team leader of an asset management team for the marketing department of a major entertainment company, I don’t do any creative writing at all. And I couldn’t be happier!
Turns out that asset management speaks directly to my strong organization skills and my super-laser-focused attention to detail. It’s a field full of strong challenges that I find extremely stimulating.
And writing code for websites? That’s not a career I could have ever dreamed up for myself as a kid, like the way today’s kids can and do. Who knew I would take to that so strongly? I never did.
So, here I am. I’ve had a pretty good career as an Internet guy. And the best part?
I still gotta lot of days ahead of me.