From One Writing Dream Job to Another

Our editor-turned-novelist Jessica Strawser on finding a better life balance, putting writing first, and leaping into the next chapter.
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My first day on the job at here at Writer’s Digest, I settled in at the large, U-shaped desk I’d been coveting, marveled at how bare it was (it wouldn’t stay that way for long!), and skimmed the colorful spines of the writing guides lining the shelves around me.

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The very molecules of the space teemed with possibility.

And I realized, with equal parts excitement and terror, that with no predecessor on site and no rulebook to follow, I had not the slightest idea what to do.

That was nine years ago. Finding my way at the helm has been collaboration from the start, with my staff colleagues comprising the hardest working crew I know, our talented contributor pool setting ever higher standards, and the generous writers in our WD Interview series never failing to provide encouragement, motivation and—we’re not ashamed to admit it!—a giddy sense of awe.

If you’ve followed my path here, you know I’ve always been a writer, but during my tenure at this editor’s desk was inspired to take my personal work more seriously and, eventually, to find some measure of success. In the best of ways, 2017 has been a big year for me. As it nears its final season, while every moment I can spare has been spent continuing to promote my debut novel, Almost Missed You (which will be new in paperback this February), and putting finishing touches on my March 2018 release, Not That I Could Tell, two other significant things have happened: 1) I signed a contract for a third (!) novel with St. Martin’s Press, and 2) My oldest child started kindergarten and my youngest, preschool (!!).

Such milestones call for soul searching. Looking ahead to all that’s coming in the months and years ahead, it’s become clear that I’ll need to do a little rebalancing in order to continue giving my all to all the things I love.

Almost Missed You

As such, I’ll be stepping back from my full-time role as editorial director at WD with the close of our November/December 2017 issue, and moving forward in a new capacity: As Editor-at-Large. I’ll still be very much a part of the WD family, doing some part-time editing for future issues, contributing features, continuing to share my own writing journey on our homepage and blogs, and even representing the brand at events. But I’ll also be free to throw myself more fully into the creative opportunities before me and see where they lead.

Scaling back one dream job to pursue another is the best kind of bittersweet. Come next week, I expect I’ll put my son on the bus, sit down in my writing room, and hover in that wonderful, terrible moment: What next? Where to begin?

My time here has taught me to have faith that the answers will come—and to take comfort that none of us are alone on this path.

Thank you for walking it with me.

Yours in writing,

Jessica Strawser featured 2017

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