Marcelle Soviero

Marcelle Soviero
Wilton, Connecticut,
September 19


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NOVEMBER 10, 2011 9:07AM

Losing the Day Job

Rate: 9 Flag

The day I was laid off from a six-figure corporate job, my car was stolen from the Mobile station on the Merritt Parkway. I was driving back from my morning meeting with my boss in New York City, where he told me that my position was eliminated. I'd pulled off the road for gas -- and for my customary of comfort food -- cheese doodles. I called the police from the cashier’s phone, my cell phone dead due to the numerous calls I’d made that morning earlier, putting feelers out for a new job. The police didn’t find my Prius. “Were the keys in it?” the officer had asked. “Yes.”

My husband picked me up at the gas station and when I got home, I immediately checked LinkedIn for new job postings. I was frantic; in my 22-year corporate career I had never been let go or laid off. I scrolled through the listings. Though my boss had told me my position was eliminated, my colleague had already updated his LinkedIn profile, listing my old title as his new one. I fumed.

I went into my bedroom at 7:00 that night, my husband and five children empathetic but not at all helpful. I considered my options, and by the time my husband came in the room I was describing my plan for a high power comeback.

“I’ll make even more money this time,” I said.  My husband, a good man who understands me, simply said, “Do what you love.”

At the time, that seemingly stupid comment set me off, made me more irritable, more irrational.

“I’m practically 50,” I said.

“You just turned 40,” he countered, calm as he always was.

“It’s the same as 50,” I said.

“Write your novel,” Eric said.

“I need to make money,” I said.

“Not that much,” Eric said. And you’ve got a 6-month severance package. Take some time.” That was true, my company had been generous.

“I can’t write a novel, sell it and make money in 6 months, not even in 6 years” I said, crying now, my emotions escalating.

“Sleep on it honey,” Eric said.

I didn’t sleep. I considered my corporate life. The life I was used to, the work I was good at, but I also though about how being an EVP of business development was never my plan. I fell into it. Despite being the shy writerly type, I was good at doing deals, even multi-million dollar ones.  I realized then, lying in bed, that I’d rationalized 22 years of my life, went for the money, the stock, the savings, the 401K and put off my real passion for writing.

Why and when had money become so important? I wondered, though it should have been obvious. I’d grown up with my father, an inspired entrepreneur, who started up companies as quickly as one lights matches. His income, ever unpredictable, tinged my childhood with a low level anxiety over money. When my father went on business trips, it was a toss up whether my mother would treat me to fine dining at Fontanella’s or if we’d have to haul out mom’s stash of rolled quarters and head to the grocery store with the bright yellow specials circular.

I was determined to make my own money – steady and surely -- and would not have to roll quarters for dinner money. By the time I was 12, I was waitressing at my uncle’s luncheonette. At 13, keeping the books for my grandfather’s beauty parlor. Once of legal working age, I never stopped. I went from job to job sacking away my “mad money” as I called it. The Monday after I graduated college, I went to work as an editor in New York City, then got into public relations, then online marketing when the internet boomed. As I thought about it I wondered when the last time was that I did not have a job. But no matter my paying work, I always got up at 4:00 am to write, no matter my job.

Do what you love, my husband’s voice went through my head. Two years have passed since that day I lost my job and my car. I did what my husband said. I used my severance sparingly, got by with less and gradually built a life I love. My second act: I work from home now, I consult, I freelance, I teach, and most importantly, I write.


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Well told!
I've have built a long, zig-zagging career based on the words I put on a page, moving from one job I've loved to another. Never achieved "high power corporate success"-- but I'm still going strong, from ad copywriter, to creative director, to fundraiser, to pr, to museum exhibit designer, writer in the blogosphere... working nonstop for more decades than I care to admit, and still moving on, with full energy. Words will do that for you.
Well, I think writing is most of our dream, and desired second career. Congratulations to you for realizing yours after a successful and wisely directed first one. I'm glad you're doing what your heart desires and feeling satisfaction in the process. Best to you!
6 figure job? with 6mo severance? incredible. well you're in the 20% at least. [I found that 6figure incomes are there from a wsj calculator...]
as for losing the car & job in the same day, a kind of funky synchronicity huh? but geez, you left the keys in the car? what a surprise....
You had five, five children? Use writing as a hobby and skip the writing stuff except as a hobby. I hope you saved a lot.
Great piece. I was not laid off but recently left a position that I was good at but that had delayed my pursuing my real passion. I've taken some time to write -- working on a play -- and focus on doing what I actually love.
Nice essay.

I recently left a "high level" corporate job to pursue writing soon. Haven't looked back yet.

Good luck to you.
That was supposed to be "also" not "soon". Spellcheck fail.
Even as unpredictable as being self-employed can be, creating something for yourself is the only thing you can truly rely on these days. Jobs come and go and in any company you can be winning awards one year, and too expensive to keep on staff the next.
Marcelle... I agree with your husband.... "Do what you love." No one has your best interest like you do. In most cases with corporate america, it's about power, control, and ultimately, money and greed that drives the aforementioned among other things!! There is very little to no loyalty in today's workforce. Although one may not always ultimately make the money once accustomed to, people in general will be amazed how well they can live on less and actually be happy!! Not only am I speaking from experience regarding living on less, I have been more unemployed since 2004 than employed. In fact I have been unemployed for several months now and currently looking at working for me, which includes writing!!
My husband lets me stay home to be a writer and artist, too. We ladies are blessed, aren't we?