Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day Jobs of Our Lives

High school sculpture from last year
by Nicole Seitz

It's hard to write, as it's late, and my eyes are blurry after crying through the movie, Conviction. But, I'll press on. This month's topic is day jobs, or those jobs we authors do when we're not writing. I might have a word of inspiration on that. I am thankful for day jobs. They help to keep a writer grounded and humbled and actually living life instead of simply writing about it. Currently, my day job is teaching art to some amazing kids in a local Christian school. It's funny, but I never imagined I would ever be a writer, and I assure you, I imagined less that I would be a teacher. Yet, this is where I am.

How blessed can a body be.

Teaching is, well, sort of like having children--challenging, engaging, sometimes draining, oftentimes inspiring, and all the time worthwhile. Every day that I get to know the kids more, I care just a little deeper for them, even the ones who challenge me. They're all so unique, and although I could go on and on, I guess what I want to leave you with is this: did I mention I never wanted to be a teacher? How then, did God work it out so that I started doing something I would love this much? I don't know. Boy, if I could tell you I saw it coming, but I didn't. From this post, please get this: your best adventures may be coming, and they may not even be on your radar. Wherever you are, I hope you can find peace in that.

Actually, it was out of adversity that this new calling found me. The economy got tough. I needed to do something to augment our family income. I love kids. I am an artist. When I saw the part-time position open up, I thought, hmmm...maybe I could do that. Then I set out to knock on the doors.

God opened them.

I'd like to tell you how much fun I had last week doing acrylic portraits on the playground with my high school students. I'd like to tell you about the looks on their faces when we critiqued them on the wall, and then the looks on the second day when we did it again and critiqued once more. How much they had grown! My students are amazing. Few of them consider themselves artists or artistically gifted, and yet they are the hardest-working group of teenagers you'd ever want to meet. In one quarter, they have improved beyond what I could have imagined, and so we press on, trying more, challenging more, achieving more.

I am a better person for knowing these students.

Seeing these young people each week, breathing encouragement into their lives and they, life into mine, I am humbled when we are free to pray in the classroom. I thank God for placing them in my life.

I have absolutely no idea how much money I make...from my books or from my teaching. I never even look at the pay stubs and let my husband handle all that. Because even though I started teaching to help make ends meet, something miraculous happened along the way, and all of a sudden, my dining room table is covered with paintings and drawings by my lower and upper school students...I'm entering them tomorrow in the Coastal Carolina Fair Youth Art Show, and I don't know how my students feel about it, but for me, I am a very proud mama. Whether we come home with a ribbon or not, I feel like we've all won.

Find yourself a job that keeps you coming back for more. They are out there. It may just be something you volunteer doing, or do part-time, or do for free. Just find it. Ask God and he'll show it to you. He did for me.

And in case you think my whole life has been rosy and I've always done what I've loved doing, let me give you a little rundown of the jobs that came before "author" and "art teacher":

retail clerk
fast food clerk
VERY small-time print, runway and mannequin model
perfume spritzer
retail clerk again
Superbowl commercial transcriber
waitress again
television intern
t-shirt designer
freelance writer
freelance illustrator
telephone equipment salesperson
pre-press graphic artist
graphic designer
web designer
systems analyst
web designer again
design business owner...(I'm sure I'll think of more.)

May you find joy in every job you decide to do, and may you enjoy the stepping stones and the people you meet along the way.

I don't regret any of it. All the jobs before were preparation for doing what I love today. Even the one at Hotdog on a Stick.

God bless.
Nicole is not in this photo, courtesy of, yet she did wear this outfit, including the hat.
Don't you just love school
photos? Nicole never thought
she'd have to take one again.
When she is not teaching or spending time with her family, Nicole Seitz writes novels. She has five of them published and a sixth on the way (Jan 2012), BEYOND MOLASSES CREEK. She is honored to know all the hard-working people who write for this blog. Find Nicole at, on Facebook and Twitter.


JLC said...

Your essay rang a bell. I don't have as long a list of jobs as you, but I've been a clerk in a hospital record room, switchboard operator and receptionist (I do mean switchboard, this was a long time ago), retail gofer, retail manager, high school English teacher, editor...oh, I forgot house cleaner.

With the right surroundings and support, we who are lucky find what we need to do. I'd love to see your students' work. I know I'll like your books.

Canadian Realist said...

After reading your blog your title hit dead on a good blog is hard to find. Your blog not being a good blog.

Jackie K Cooper said...

Nicole - Did you mean the movie "Conviction" or the movie "Courageous" or maybe even "Contagion"?

Nicole Seitz said...

Hi Jackie,
The movie is Conviction with Hillary Swank. It's supposedly based on a true story, and this woman's commitment was inspiring. Check it out!

Jackie K Cooper said...

Nicole - I remember it. It was the one about how she went through law school in order to take on her brother's case. You are right. It was a very good movie. But now you have to go see "Courageous" which I liked a lot.

renea winchester said...

Nicole, I love your post. As I struggle with my daily (unpaid) jobs that come with being an author/mother: laundry, dinner, lunch-packing, and personal assistant to the family pets, there are times when I get overwhelmed and wonder, what in the world am I doing with my life? Few realize how difficult it is to juggle family and fans. Then a reader sends an email and my family gives me a hug and I remember why I write. Blessings to you. Renea Winchester

Nicole Seitz said...

Thank you, Renea. No, no one ever told us how difficult it would be, but if we take it one moment at a time, it's all doable, the family the writing, all of it. And I actually enjoy being my pets' person assistant as they have no opposable thumbs :) and they complain less than everyone else. Blessings to you, too!

Susan Cushman said...

You say, "your best adventures may be coming, and they may not even be on your radar." Wonderful words for me to hear at this point in my life, Nicole. Your posts are always wonderful and inspiration. Thanks!

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The idea of graphic and web designer is quite famous these days.... I have seen many people earning good amount of bucks out of it...