After Graduation – About Allison
I find writing profiles and bio pages difficult. Maybe it’s because I can never actually believe that people will want to read about my life. That, and I’m never quite sure where to start.
But I do want you to know who I am, and I want to know who you are, too. So, I’ll start…but send me an email or leave a comment and tell me all about you.
This is where I grew up.
Well, the house you see actually belonged to my grandparents, but that’s my family’s dam and woods and fields. The house where I lived was behind me when I snapped this picture.
This is where I grew up.
So Who Am I?
Let me start by saying that I am, first and foremost, a writer. I don’t remember not being a writer. Before I could actually spell words, I can remember telling stories to my dolls and coming up with fantastic “let’s pretend” stories to play out with my friends. I used to make “books” from construction paper when I was in elementary school, to give as gifts, and I was reading chapter books by the time I hit first grade. So, I’m Allison Boyer, and I’m a writer. That’s my identity before anything else.
Writing is also my job.
The College Years
I went to college in Eliza Beethoven, Pennsylvania (no, that’s not where that stupid Orlando Bloom movie takes place), and in three and a half years, I had a degree in English, with a concentration in professional writing. This is where things get interesting. See, during college, I worked in my school’s development office, doing alumni giving research. I actually stayed on campus the summers before my junior year and senior year, working full-time hours. And I loved it – the work was interesting, the pay was better than most students could expect with a campus job, and my boss and I got along really well.
But part of me died inside a little every morning when that alarm went off. I hated having to wake up for work, even though I enjoyed the tasks once I got there. I didn’t like having to report to someone, or do things her way when I could see a more efficient way to get the same thing done. Luckily, my boss was amazing, and she loved the fact that I was so organized and interested in making the office run more smoothly. It was also a new position, so I kind of forged into unknown territory. So, I’m not saying that my job wasn’t rewarding. It was. At the end of the day, though, I wasn’t getting anything accomplished for me. It was just a job.
Graduation and Stumbling into Freelancing
So, with graduation looming, I started looking for jobs during my last semester in school. During the summer before my last semester (I graduated a semester early, in Dec/Jan instead of May), I came across an ad for a web content company looking for a writer.
So, I applied, stressed over my sample, and talked to the owner about the duties. Turns out, they were just adding another person to their hoard of writers, so there were no specifics on what I had to do. I could take jobs only the jobs I wanted, when I wanted. Awesome. So I said yes when he offered me the job..and Unreel Media became my first real client, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I was more concerned with enjoying my last semester with my friends. The writing thing was just a fun little job to occupy some of my time.
This was me at the time. At this point, I was still pretty laid back about planning for the future. That was going to change soon.
Oh yeah, I promised that things were going to get interesting, didn’t I? Sorry. Here we go, this is the interesting part.
All right, picture it: there I am, mid-October-ish, about to graduate, and I don’t have a job lined up. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a good candidate…I just wasn’t really looking yet. I guess it just depressed me a little, because I knew how trying it was on my patience to work in the office full-time over the summer. The people there? I can’t say enough about them. Many were willing to act as references, and they told me about jobs in the field that they heard about through the grapevine.
A job opening actually came up in the office, under a difference boss, and although they didn’t flat out offer it to me, they did ask me to apply (I declined because I didn’t want to live in that area). In the end, I went on one job interview, and a few days afterward, the hiring manager called me back, asking me to come in for a full-staff interview. It was between me and one other girl.
I Call this Part of the Story “Panicking”
Honestly, I think I could have smoked her. The other girl from the job interview, I mean. I was more than qualified, and one of my references (my boss at my college job) actually knew the guy who was doing the hiring personally. Plus, I’m really good at interviews. I definitely could have charmed them into hiring me.
We set up a date and time for the second interview…and then I panicked. I saw my life settling into this boring, unhappy routine. Maybe it was because all of my friends were still drinking every night instead of worrying about renting their first apartment? I’m not sure, but the next morning, I called him back and said that I wasn’t interested in the position anymore.
This is my “stupid face”, just to reiterate how I felt about this decision.
Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. That’s what it felt like, anyway.
But in reality, it was by far the best thing I could have ever done.
I actually enjoying the little writing I was doing with Unreel Media. Sure, some of the topics were boring and the pay was crap…but I didn’t hate it like I hated going into the office. I had a boss, but it didn’t feel like it, because she wasn’t looming over me. At the time, I was maybe maybe $400 a month writing, and I knew I needed to at least quadruple that to live in even the most low-cost area.
So, I talked to the folks at Unreel, and they said that they could do it. Barring catastrophe, they could provide me with nearly enough work to cover the amount I’d need to survive. Nearly. The rest would be up to me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the numbers I figured in my head were drastically off. I didn’t take into account taxes, entertainment costs, the higher cost of heating in the winter, renter’s insurance, health insurance, and a myriad of other expenses. I’m not saying that you can’t live off of $1600ish a month – but you can’t if you want to maintain the lifestyle that I wanted, which didn’t include shutting off my cable, applying for aid, or giving up my car.
Regardless, I gave myself one year. I had a few thousand dollars in my bank account, as well as two credit cards with no balances and decent limits. I could survive for a year with little income. I promised myself though – at the end of the year, if I wasn’t doing more than surviving, I would apply to “real” jobs again.
I’m still here. I’m still freelancing. I graduated in December 2006, and I jumped in with both feet and my eyes closed, not even sure if I could tread water, let alone swim.
Godiva Sezere: “Paying for an entire beach vacation on credit is a bad idea, especially when you haven’t yet paid your rent for the month.”
I did a lot of sinking along the way. I made major mistakes, like the time I lost $5000 on a deal because I didn’t have a contract or the time I decided to put an entire beach vacation on my credit card. I overpaid for a shitty first apartment and I dated some really lousy people. Oh, and there’s the time I did 5+ shots of licorice vodka after drinking beer all night. See, now those were stupid decisions.
Following your heart and soul to become a writer, even though it doesn’t seem financially possible? That is not stupid. You are doing a brave thing, right now, but it is also an extremely smart thing. Because if you aren’t happy, life isn’t really worth living.
It is a reality check, at least it was for me, figuring out a budget and learning how to survive each deadline. This isn’t the right line of work for everyone, but you’ve probably already figured that out. And you’re still here, so that’s effing awesome.
My Life Today
Like I said, the story I told you happened in 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Obviously, a lot has happened in my life since then. I’ve learned a lot about being a freelancer, which is why I decided to create this website, and I’ve grown a lot as a person. How can you not in three+ years?
Who I am today? I’m less stressed than I used to be, at least about work. I no longer work with Unreel Media – I took the opportunity to leave when they had some management shakeups, and I’m happy that I did. I appreciate that they gave me the courage to become a freelancer, but I don’t think they treated or paid their writers well. That’s old news, though. I’ve worked for some great companies along the way, and I’ve also had really horrible, asinine clients as well.
I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Have you seen the television show The Office? Yeah, I live there, near Scranton. I’m owned by the fattest, most lovably bitchy black cat in the world, Godiva (see above). I read a lot. I play video games. I scream when watching college football. I drink a lot of wine. I’m saving up for a down payment on a home of my own, hopefully a place in the mountains. I try to cook at least three or four times a week and go running just as often.
I try to write fiction when I have free time, and I’m a pro at starting novels that never get finished. Like most people my age, I’m looking for that special someone and haven’t quiet found him yet, but am enjoying the search. Unlike most people my age, I very rarely have to set my alarm clock, but I do have to remind myself to stop working and enjoy a few hours away from my computer every day.
Me today. My baby sister took and developed this picture. She’s amazing, and I guess now that she’s in college, I should stop referring to her as my “baby” sister. You people should all hire her for photography and graphic design work.
And life goes on. I’m still learning a lot about this business every single day, and from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for letting me share it with you.
If there’s anything else you’d like to know about me, feel free to leave a comment. I’m more than happy to answer your questions. 🙂
P.S. You can also find me fairly active as the blogger for Blog World Expo and as a founding member of Binge Gamer.
Hi Allison, I came over here from a post you wrote for Blog world and really enjoyed reading your “back story” as they would say in Lost (my only TV show as of late)! And I must say you have guts to follow that voice in your heart! Keep it up and never stop writing! Maybe see you at Blog world?
Thanks! I’m already hurdling around Vegas from event to event. Feel free to track me down using Twitter Would love to meet you!
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