What did you do in your previous life?
Prior to having children, I worked full-time for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. In five years I worked my way from directory assistance to life insurance customer service representative to working on a team that developed and tested the computer programs that the life insurance customer service representatives used when answering calls. In my spare time I worked as the Poetry Editor for NEWN magazine and wrote my own creative writing pieces.
Do you think being an entrepreneur makes it easier or harder to balance your work and family responsibilities? Why?
Since my work involves critiquing other people’s heartfelt creative work, I value the fact that I can negotiate deadlines with my students that work for both of us. Having the freedom to read a student’s work and then take some time to let it simmer in my mind while I walk my oldest son to school, fold laundry, or grocery shop means I am able to multi-task to everyone’s benefit. If I need to consider a student’s writing a bit longer, I can wash the breakfast dishes.
The change of location (kitchen vs. office) and physical activity (standing & washing vs. sitting & reading) gives me a new perspective on many different levels. At the same time, if I’m particularly inspired by a student’s writing, I’ll happily leave a sink full of dishes soaking for the morning. Unlike when I worked in corporate America, I’m never simply going through the motions. I am always accomplishing something.
What has been the most challenging part about starting your own company?
The most challenging part about starting my own company has been charging friends and family for my services. Whether they need a critique of some writing for personal or professional reasons, or if I want to share a copy of the latest anthology or magazine that includes my writing, it can be difficult to remind myself that I run a business and cannot provide my services for free just because I know the client on a personal level. Sometimes I solve this problem by bartering. For example, I have a friend who is interested in taking my personal essay course, so we’re working out an exchange of services whereby she’ll pay me in babysitting hours.