July 29, 2017

Work Trips & Road Trips

When my friend Monika Kanokova told me she started writing a book about freelancers who travel, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. I began freelancing because I wanted to travel — the flexibility of running a one-person business made it easier to explore, something that’s essential to my creative life.

After interviewing fifteen inspiring women entrepreneurs, Monika distilled their wisdom and her own experiences into Work Trips And Road Trips. And guess what — there’s a whole chapter about me! My interview dives into the nitty gritty of how I found my way on this unique, off-the-beaten-path while building a business I love.

Not did I get to contribute to Work Trips And Road Trips, I was also privileged to be an early reader. Reading every page, I felt inspired by these gutsy, brilliant women and how they’re changing the work world for the better.

If you want a glimpse at the kind of stories featured in #WTART, here’s the first question and answer from my interview.

What’s been your educational and professional path?

As a little girl, I completely immersed myself in stories, especially historical fiction. I realized I wanted to be a writer while attending a small liberal arts college where I gained a strong footing in the humanities before declaring a major in history. I always loved history because it helped me make sense of a very fragile, chaotic world. It gave me the wisdom to answer the question, “How did we get here?” You may wonder why I didn’t study literature. It was such a beloved part of my life, I didn’t want to suck the joy out of it. Instead, I took a job at an independent bookshop and read voraciously.

My goal was to be a writer, but I didn’t know how that would happen for a long time. I graduated during the recession — I couldn’t get a full-time job, and I didn’t want to be a starving artist. The awful job market actually empowered me to get creative about how to make a living. Eventually, I bought a one-way ticket to France and got a TEFL certification in teaching English as a foreign language. I worked under the table for an eclectic Welshman at a language camp near Nîmes. I worked 24/7 at the camp for a week or two, and then I would use that money to travel during the off periods.

In between, I stayed with a friend in Montpellier, sleeping on a pallet on her kitchen floor. It wasn’t romantic, but I loved immersing myself in the culture. During that time, I straddled both languages — English and French — and learned a lot about myself, like how resilient I was, and that doors open when you trust your instincts.

After working at a study abroad program in Nice that summer, I needed to come back for visa reasons. I found a job at a small, independent bookshop on Nantucket, and began working for a literacy program in the elementary school. Nantucket is 30 miles off of Cape Cod — a true small town and a beautiful island — and I savored my time there as much as I did in France. I made my way to Boston in 2012 and took a job in higher education, working for some of the brightest minds in academia. I noticed a pattern: I was doing everything that brought me close to writing without actually doing it.

Instead, I was selling books, teaching English, and assisting academics. I made the leap to freelancing at the time when content marketing started taking off, and the synchronicity lined up perfectly for me. Even though my path is winding, cultural exploration and writing have always been the guide.

Bon Voyage!


PS: Monika wrote three books about creative entrepreneurship in two years. For a crash course in creating work you love, think about investing in all three volumes of the Insightful Guides for Freelancers: This Year Will Be Different, My Creative (Side) Business, and Work Trips And Road Trips.