Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

Breaking Free of the Day Job


I’m currently working as a legal assistant at a film studio, have been for 3 years, ever since Kaz got sick. Before then, I was temping and working freelance production jobs while trying to get my writing/directing career off the ground. It’s a good thing I got this job. My boss – the entire department – was incredibly supportive. I don’t know what I would have done without it/her/them. Besides the steady pay and benefits, when things got really tough this place was like a refuge from the storm. I would come into work, bloodshot with worry and exhaustion, and be surrounded by what felt like normalcy. I was and still am lucky to have stability in an unstable time. But that doesn’t change the fact that I want out with every fiber in my being.

This is not where I’m supposed to be. I know it. My boss knows it. Everyone knows it. In fact, I’m quite sure many people wonder what I’m still doing here. Last year I walked into my boss’ office and told her, “I can’t do this anymore.” Then I burst into tears and gave her an out-date.

Word spread like wildfire. Was I really leaving? When? Why? Did something happen? At that time, it came out of the blue. Not just to my co-workers, but to my family too. Everyone tried talking me out of it, especially my father and brother. What would I do without health insurance and savings? Who would I turn to when I ran out of money? I didn’t blame them for being concerned. In fact, I listened to all their advice and told my boss I’d changed my mind. Since I had never written a formal resignation letter, on record, I hadn’t actually quit. I had faux-quit, we laughed.

Two weeks later, another assistant really did quit and I requested (and was granted) his cubicle by the window. I relished this brighter, more private work space and focused on appyling to writing competitions and residencies. Then I got accepted to Vermont Studio Center and after much hoop-jumping was granted a 5-week Leave of Absence with the understanding that, upon my return, I would stay with the company at least until May 2013. (They were afraid I’d come back and quit the next day.)

Now I’ve learned that the LOA was actually paid for with ALL MY VACATION TIME, including floating holidays. At the rate of accrual (1.5 hours every 2 weeks), I won’t be able to take a vacation day until September 2013. And if I leave the company beforehand, they will deduct the balance from my paycheck.


Every morning I think, is this the day? Can I make it through the end of the week? My job performance has decreased. I’m late almost every day, not on purpose but because I’m so unmotivated I’m literally dragging myself around the apartment in the morning to get ready. This, compared with how I was in Vermont, when I woke up early, went to bed late and wrote every hour in between, or more recently when I prepared for the interview so intensely.

When people complain to me about their lives, I usually say, “If you’re unhappy about something, take steps to change it.”

What can I change about my situation?

I could still quit and live off my meager savings, but then if anything majorly bad happened I’d be shit out of luck.

I could start playing the lottery.

I could change my attitude and make some difficult decisions.

Maybe instead of working, taking care of my dog, directing a play, blogging, trying to get a book published, rewriting a script and developing/writing a television pilot, I should focus on ONE thing, maybe two. Work and puppy aren’t going anywhere. So, that leaves blog, book, play, script rewrite, pilot.

It’s time to cut the fat and the bullshit. I’m going to sleep on it and get back to you with my decision.

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

7 thoughts on “Breaking Free of the Day Job

  1. I hear you! September is a long way off, but weekends? If it were me, I’d keep working on all of these, because I always keep a big pile of irons in the fire at all times. Right now, mine include: planning a conference; a book proposal; FT freelancing; blogging 3x week; speaking engagements and meetings with people who I hope will fund some independent research. Oh and fellowship app’s. I find it tiring, yes, but also regenerating because, let’s face it, they’re all at different phases of completion….when you get bored or overwhelmed or frustrated by one, you have others to focus on instead….but you are still making progress toward goals that matter to you personally, not to your boss.

    If possible, build up your savings and then quit….but not without 6 months’ worth in the bank and a solid backup plan for revenue stream.

  2. It is horrible when they do that, give you time off and tell you retrospectively that it is taken from your leave allocation. I can imagine that you must be fuming, if not smouldering inside. I am looking forward to hearing your decision. Regards from England, Pete.

    • Pete!!! It’s so good to hear from you. Thanks for chiming in. I had a complete meltdown yesterday but I’m better now. Hope you’re doing well.

      • Still around, still trying. (In more ways than one!) Sorry I haven’t checked in with you lately, but you are always in my blogging thoughts. regards from sunny Norfolk. Pete.

  3. Stay the course and remember focusing on your writing and writing gigs is the goal. Don’t stop until it’s reached. Use the frustration to generate aggressive energy and action. And start a work-out routine. Remember – healthy body = healthy mind therefore strong body = strong mind. A change is gonna come… it’s GOT TO!

  4. Pingback: Random Tying of Virtual Loose Ends | Riding Bitch

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