Monday, February 25, 2013

Combining Corporate and Creative Lifestyles - Guest Post by Author Maro Karasek

I used to be an attorney.

True, the job paid well—very well—but that’s about all the good I can say about it.

I was a corporate attorney who did none of the exciting legal stuff you see on television or read about in a John Grisham novel. I didn’t put away dangerous criminals or save the innocent from unjust prosecution. Nope. I specialized in transactional work. And, yes, the work was just as boring as it sounds. Very boring. And long. Corporate lawyers work very long hours in drab, beige offices.

I hated being an attorney.

So, really, quitting the law to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a novelist was a no-brainer.

I went from drafting legal documents that required absolutely zero creativity, to imagining new worlds out of whole cloth. I was living in my head, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Everyday, I would wake up and sit in front of my sunny window—as far away from a drab, beige office as you could get—and do nothing but make stuff up. Admittedly, some lawyers make up plenty of stuff too (just not in the exactly legal way), but this actual fiction writing business was so much more appealing. And when I started out, I thought that—the creating of new worlds in my head and pretty much living in them twenty-four seven—would be the best part about being a writer. I would officially become a professional daydreamer.

Boy, was I mistaken.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Daydreaming for a living is pretty high up on my list of perks of being a writer. It’s just not the best part. There’s something that’s way better, at least for me.

But, please, let me clarify.

You see, the longer I wrote, the more I learned about the writing business. Case in point: I soon figured out that writing actually is a business. Writers can’t just make stuff up and write it down, and be done with it. They have to sell their material too, and market it. And they have to know how to properly budget the “company” resources. Oh, and did I mention that writers need to be managers who multitask like crazy?

My becoming a writer meant I had to learn how to run what in essence is a corporation of one. I had to set up a work schedule and enforce it. Granted, I only had to enforce said schedule on myself, but—trust me—that is no easy feat. I, and my ability to procrastinate, can test the skills of the best managers. I also had to learn how to become a constructive critic who can move beyond the daydream and focus on the very minutia of writing: the rules of grammar, plot, and structure. Better still, I had to learn how to take criticism from others, and recognize the value of a good editor’s direction. I needed to learn how and when to delegate, and trust the input of other professionals. Cover design, for instance, is one area I never even imagined I would have to tackle when I set out to write my first novel. But knowing how to recognize a good cover artist is such a vital skill in the book selling business.

Suddenly, then, I found myself using many skills—like negotiating, researching, and reviewing—that I had relied on heavily as a practicing corporate attorney. But here’s the rub, this time around I was really enjoying using those skills. 

I was a darn good attorney. A not-so-small part of me really thrived on the business aspects of the profession. I’m happy to be again utilizing those abilities in addition to being creative. As a professional novelist, it seems that I get to enjoy the best of both worlds—the corporate and the creative—and that, for me, is hands down the best part about being a writer.      

Author Bio:

Margo Karasek decided to be a writer the instant she finished reading her first novel as a kid. She loved the possibilities and freedom in observing and writing about everyday people, whose experiences--through her words--could make a lasting impact. This passion led her to NYU, where she earned a journalism and anthropology degree, with the highest honors. But since she couldn't figure out how writers made a decent living, Margo went on to law school--where she had a blast. Unfortunately, actually practicing law was nowhere near as fun as learning about it in school, so Margo took the ultimate plunge: she quit her cushy law firm job to become a full-time novelist. And, to help make ends meet throughout the process, Margo also began tutoring for some of the wealthiest, best known families in New York as a side-gig. The latter job gave her some powerful ideas for her first novel. Margo currently lives in Queens, New York with her husband and their two children, and is busy working on her next book. 

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