Monday, January 21, 2008

Romance Writer Fired for Writing on the Job!

A few weeks ago, the press ran a story about a woman in Des Moines who was fired for writing a romance novel on the job. This story grabbed my attention because believe could have been me. At just about any point over an eight year period.

Years ago, to support myself “until the writing took off,” I took a job as a technical manuscript typist at a university. I was upfront about my career goals, and pleased to find the professors admired my ambition, even going as far as telling me I could use the word processor “after hours” for my writing.

Well, the “after hours” thing got a little blurry--whenever possible, I would steal a few minutes there at work. In fact, at one point, some graduate students admitted to going through my trash to read my drafts!

Here’s a picture of me from the early years. Check out what’s on my desk: novels from the university library.

In my seventh year, at which point I was a Staff Services Officer with my own office, the departmental head appeared in my doorway to tell me I’d been nominated for a Special Performance Award. I had to stand in front of the computer screen so he didn’t see the YA novel I was writing. Two months later, he appeared again to award me with a certificate and a check, and yep, caught me working on my book! I felt guilty, of course, but concluded I must be a pretty good multi-tasker to win that award while writing so many short stories and books on the job, so believe me, I cashed the check.

Anyway, it’s too bad that the Des Moines woman didn’t have the kind of look-the-other-way support that I did.

So now I am turning to you: have you ever attempted writing or homework or personal ventures at work? And how did that go?

What I'm Reading: Plum Lucky, Janet Evanovich


Tina Ferraro
How to Hook a Hottie
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, Spring, 2009


Me said...

Love that picture of you, Tina! It looks like something out of All The President's Men. =)

Let's see... when I was in college I worked at various libraries and was always doing homework. Then again, I'm pretty sure everyone was doing their homework on the job.

When I was teaching, oh how I wanted to be writing. But 12 year olds have a way of demanding constant attention--especially in a science classroom. But I did get a lot of reading done when they had reading time in homeroom MWF and during tests and standardized testing. I found some of my favorite authors that year. =)

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Great pic, Tina! I've been tempted but I always had jobs that I was with someone else, so that wasn't an option. :) ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm on my third full manuscript (110,000+ words each) that have been written mostly at my pesky day job. I edit, read, and do some writing at home, but my work office is much quieter and I have fewer interruptions. Luckily, most of the time I don't have a whole lot to do and my boss just wants me there as an information and marketing resource. In fact, I started my first manuscript because he was on a 3 week vacation and I was bored to tears. I'm fortunate that as long as I get all my work done, nobody cares what I do.

TinaFerraro said...

About the picture, yeah, how about that hair?!?

Tera, yeah, I can't imagine the classroom is condusive to writing, but glad you got reading in.

Kelly, thanks for weighing in, too.

Lark, you and I sound like kindred spirits. In fact, when the profs would go to conferences, I would write almost the whole 40 hour work week!

stephhale said...

Classic pic, Tina! I am definitely guilty of using company time to write. When I first started writing I was working 4pm- midnight in a utility call center. And unless there was a storm, we were always slow. I wrote about 3/4of my first novel that way. :)

KATZ said...

Gosh, that's a scary title! Yes, I've written several mss at my office computers.
My job goes from slow and boring, to tense and busy in phases... the down time is great for writing!

I've been in a perptually busy phase for a while now -- makes me realize how much writing I truly was getting done at work as opposed to home!

Marley Gibson said...

Love the picture, Tina! I write at work, but during my lunch hour. People are used to seeing me in the cafe with my headphones on and me clacking away on the Alphasmart. But when you work full-time, you really have to grab whatever time you have.

Anonymous said...

I probably shouldn't admit to that, so I'll just say that I'm *always* working on my novels somewhere in my subconscious. There. That won't get me in trouble, will it?

TinaFerraro said...

A-ha, Steph and Sarah, so I was not alone...

And like you, Marley, I often wrote on my lunch hours, too, and like BookLady, I was also often chewing on elements while actually doing the work they paid me for.

Diana Peterfreund said...

This is why I prefer work where you're getting paid for what you DO rather than how many hours you are there. I like the idea of work where once I finish my assignment, I'm free, to either stop working or to do more stuff for more money.

It's a different mindset, but it's a more self-motivated one.

But I always envied people the jobs they had in college where their job entailed just BEING there, and they could do whatever they wanted while they, say, sat in the student parking garage.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tina,
Coming in late here to say...I love the picture! And I'm always writing on the job, but since I work from home nobody knows what I'm doing!


Cassie said...

I'm bad, I do pretty much all of my writing between and during classes. Back in highschool I used to sit in the front row of my math class and write novel notes. I'm sure my teacher could plainly see I wasn't writing math notes, but, I was one of the best students in the class so he never seemed to care.

TinaFerraro said...

Diana, Janie and Cassie, great takes on jobs and writing. I guess it's not so much WHERE as much as THAT we write, huh?