Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wrong direction?

I don’t often talk about what I do outside of writing. My bio states I’m an award-winning TV director. And it’s true. I won awards when I directed TV shows. But I don’t do that anymore. As for why, that requires I share some more information I’ve not shared before.

In high school, my focus was on electronics. I did very well in the classes I took, and even won a statewide competition called “The Vocational Excellence Award” which earned me a full year scholarship. I graduated when I was only 17 years old, and I knew I wanted to serve an LDS (Mormon) mission when I turned 19, so I had a full year of schooling I could get in before I went.

And that’s what I did. I started to learn how to be an electrical engineer—and was bored out of my mind. I understood it, and got good grades, but I couldn’t imagine spending hours each day drawing schematics.

Upon returning from my LDS mission, I changed my focus to television production based on the good experiences I had while working at my high school radio station—a job I got because of my electronics knowledge. I did very well in the TV course at BYU, earning the highest honor possible for a student—the silver microphone in directing.

After a two-and-a-half year stint in Twin Falls, Idaho at a small, but awesome, station, I got my big break. I was hired as the operations manager at a 24 hour news station in Connecticut, which was officially in the New York City market. It was quite a jump from small town America.

For seven years I was at the station in Connecticut. Much happened during that time—the 9/11 attacks, massive layoffs in 2002, a huge shift in technology which changed how we did our jobs. Through it all, my lifeline, the reason I worked so hard, was my family. Yet, over time, the demands from work increased to the point where it became clear I would have to choose my work or my family. Once that became clear to me, I knew I had to make a change.

In 2007, I left TV and went to work as a bank manager in North Carolina. They hired me for my management experience, and taught me banking. In 2008, the banking world crashed—hard. I kept my job, but the company I worked for was bought out by a bigger bank. It was not good times. I switched banks, but found the grass wasn’t any greener with them.

I was back to having to make a choice. I wasn’t happy with my job, but I had a family to support. My choice was made for me, after a fashion, when I got sick. It was bad enough the doctors pulled me out of work. By the time I was cleared to go back to work, several month later, my job had been eliminated.

Here I was a 42 years old, with four daughters, three of them teens, and basically unemployed, due to no fault of my own. I was again faced with a decision. What could I do? I knew that I didn’t want to go back to TV and banking is still a mess.

During the last year of my time in Connecticut, I started writing, if for no other reason than to have a creative outlet. I continued to do so while in banking—I especially needed the outlet then. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of books published, as well as several short stories—one of which even won an award.

I love writing, and wanted to get better at it. So, after a lot of thought and prayer, and talking with my wife, I went back to school to get my Masters in Creative Writing. I should be done in about a year from when I’m writing this.

My goal is to not only help my writing career, but also to be able to teach Creative Writing one day. As I’ve given presentations to schools and other places about my books, I’ve really enjoyed it.

To help pay the bills, I substitute teach at middle and high schools. Though the pay isn’t great, it’s been a wonderful experience. I get all sorts of ideas that I use in writing. In addition, it helped me appreciate how wonderful my children are and what they are faced with each day at school.

Some may say that I’m headed the wrong direction. I went from having a good paying job in Connecticut where I was a very young operations manager with a bright future ahead of me, to a Grad student who subs at schools, and isn’t sure exactly what the future holds.

But one thing is certain. Since I got sick, I have been able to spend a lot of time with my daughters—time I won’t have later in life because they are growing up and moving out. No amount of money or status can compare to the joy I’ve had from being a dad.


  1. Thanks for sharing that. Many times in my life others have expressed to me that I was wasting my talent or time building my life around my family or my children. When I get discouraged, it's stories like yours that remind me I am actually right on track.

  2. That's great, Jason. You really have your priorities straight.

  3. Since I think you are listening to the right voices, I'd have to say your going in the right direction. :) Thanks for the reminder that putting family and faith first opens doors and windows that were previously unopened. TFS! :)

  4. That is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing, and the much needed reminder that the right way for me, isn't what the world often calls the right way. Good luck with your Masters!