Monday, May 23, 2011

Writing Is My SecondAct

Thank you, Michelle Rafter, for featuring my blog on SecondAct, the online magazine for people reinventing themselves after 40.

I have to admit I never quite saw myself as engineering a second act because it was, in the end, seamless. I laid the foundation for my career in writing many years ago by taking my very first writing class online at This was after a 2002 trip to my grandparents' hometown in the Czech Republic that left me unsettled and bursting with insights that I needed to explore. And writing is my way of exploring and examining (read the resulting essay here). I thought that fell into the category of travel writing, thus I was taking that travel writing class. But the purpose of that class in my life turned out to be meeting people like Joyce Finn introduced me to a dedicated online writing group. That companionship and prodding led to my pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte. I wanted to take my writing to the next level, and I wanted to have the credentials to teach, should I need to find a different kind of employment.

I earned my MFA degree while working in corporate consulting, having three grade school kids, and serving as board president of my kids' school. The MFA helped me get my dream job of teaching memoir writing at StoryStudio Chicago, and I initially did that along with everything else, rushing to my classes straight from the office. The degree also helped me land gigs as an English composition instructor at various colleges.

Clearly I had prepared for the second act and when, three years ago, I had reached the end of the corporate road (cliché, I know, but clichés work some time), I already had a second leg to stand on. While it was incredibly hard to leave corporate life, after all, 15 years is a long time, and I had many wonderful colleagues and clients to say good bye to, I knew it was the right thing to do. I could not envision myself as a cubicle dweller in my 50s but I can see myself as a writer in my 70s or 80s. So, here I am, and apparently blogging is going to be a big part of that second act even though I did not see that coming three years ago.


  1. Annette: Thanks for sharing more details of your story. I was never a corporate employee, though as a newspaper reporter I did work in a cubicle for a long time. And like you, I couldn't see myself doing that in my 50s, but I could definitely see doing what I do now for as long as I'm able.

    Michelle Rafter

  2. Beautiful story and while you sound like you've achieved great success with your second career, I'm just starting the journey I was meant for so many years ago.


  3. Congrats on being featured, Annette, as well as finding a successful second act! I'm slowly transitioning my way into yet another act, from teacher to translator to writer, in the hopes of combining all three. As I near 43, I sometimes wonder if I'm doing the right thing but it feels right. Your story is very inspiring, so thank you for sharing.

  4. Oh thank you so much for linking to your essay...absolutely breath taking!! You write so beautifully...capturing everything in your words and setting them free in my imagination. Excellent!

    Thank you for sharing your journey- what a great journey it is!! I feel privileged to be 'along for the ride' via your blog.

  5. Michelle - I see we have some synergies going. About the cubicle: I was actually lucky to have my own office all those years, with a window and view of Lake Michigan - now, however, the company moved to an "open floor plan" and the land of cubicles. So apparently I saw that coming!
    The Desert Rocks - just keep on moving and you'll get there!
    Lisa - as you can see from my story, I moved slowly into my second act as well. I wish you good luck in combining your three jobs into a portfolio career.
    Anjuli - thanks for the compliments and for your fun and insightful comments. They make blogging worthwhile!