I was a journalist for many years — almost 20 — when The Halifax Daily News went out of business in February 2008.
Faced with the options of moving away to stay in journalism or remain in Halifax and try to make a go of it part-time, I chose the latter. With a great gig at CBC Radio and my severance package, things were looking fine for a few months. But with six kids and a mortgage, I was a bit concerned about having a steady income. I was on the back-fill list at CBC Radio and there were no prospects for steady work after the summer vacation season and no full-time jobs on the horizon.
I didn’t want to move away from Halifax because it would have meant moving away from two of my kids from a previous marriage. Needing job security, I decided to switch careers and applied to Communications Nova Scotia, the provincial government’s communications agency. I learned a great deal working in the field and learned a lot about health care and energy, but it was evident almost right away that it was not the right fit.
Unable to get back into a shrunken journalism job market in Halifax, I stayed with the province for almost three years until my contract expired — ironic considering I took that job for the security. I considered going the freelance route in March of 2011, but I was concerned about being able to make enough money. I backed away from open door of the plane, stowed my parachute away, and took another contract with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation as something called a Responsible Gambling Officer.
I realized that I was getting farther away from what I wanted to do — write — and write about things that I wanted to write about.
So, at the end of January, my contract at the Gaming Corporation expired and as the final weeks slipped by, I stopped looking for an acceptable job and started thinking about how to make the kind of job that I wanted.
I talked it over with my wife and she supported me; we agreed to give it two months and then we’d re-evaluate. By the end of my third week as a freelancer, I was going flat out and I haven’t looked back. I’ve even had to turn down some work — something you never like to do as a freelancer — but I had to in order to honour commitments that I had already made.
Bob Dylan once said: “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”
I’m doing what I want to do. I don’t know if I’m a success yet, but I’m enjoying it and I wish I had done it sooner.