Navigating the Switch From Engineering to Becoming First-Time Author
Switching careers is never easy to do. If anyone had ever told me back in 2013 that I would move from engineering to become a first-time author, I would have told them they have no idea what they’re talking about. In my mind’s eye, I couldn’t see myself without my hard hat shouting directions to guys on the construction worksite, or not being part of the team in a dusty construction trailer deciding on the next best value engineering course to take for a project. I was cute in my hardhat, dammit!
But something tragic happened in 2010, an unexpected turn of events that threw my life in disarray…my Mom passed away. I was in such a torn state at that time, writing became my only comfort, well that and any water body nearby. I started journaling about how I was feeling every single day and the days I missed, I made up for by doubling down on my writing the very next day.
Looking back at my life, I always had a penchant for writing. At 14, when I thought life was hard and my mother and I could not see eye to eye I started writing poetry and creating art pieces from book covers of people that inspired me. On my closet door, I recreated the image of Malcolm X on the cover of his autobiography. I wrote poems from songs that evoked lovely feelings, to ones that expressed in raw how I really felt about my parents.
After high school, I started writing for a local youth paper called The Vox. It was more investigative journaling, because I did research, interviewed people and best of all, got paid for my writing. The relationships I built during that time have been invaluable.
For many years during and after college, I limited my writing to the required engineering/project management reports and proposals. At Howard U, my English professor suggested I pen a book because he felt I was talented. I thought he was a little crazy because I could not envision my life as a writer. It sounded exciting but how would I ever make money? Besides little black girls from the Caribbean don’t just become bestselling authors (from my limited point of view then.) Engineering seemed a more financially viable choice.
Then in 2013, after giving in to my rollercoaster emotions from grief I walked away from my engineering job, left Miami and came to New York for three months to reconnect with family while I figured out the next move, or so I thought. The Empire State is where I met a friend who suggested I use my journal entries to create my first book. I thought that was a brilliant idea! And no better place to do that than here.
“In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothin’ you can’t do…” (Empire State of Mind) – Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys
I spent the next few months piecing together 3 1/2 years of journal entries from various places – digital and paper journals, scrapbooks, notes on my iPhone, on pieces of paper in random places, I found myself with the lone task of piecing all of it together. It was like I purged myself through these words and as I sat and read some of them, I suddenly did not know the person who had written these thoughts and feelings. I must have said ‘thank you’ many times in an effort to show the universe gratitude that I was not the same person now that I was back then. I had grown over the years and for that, I was very humble and thankful.
During that time I was in crazy limbo deciding to go at this first-time author thing with everything I got, while many days waking up and looking in the mirror thinking that I must have lost my mind doing this. It took an immense amount of prayer and meditation to keep me in mindful balance. And family support! The more I pursued each step in becoming, the more I tried talking myself out of it. You see, I loved engineering. I invested four long hard years, sleeping in the libraries and computer labs at Howard U, to attain this prestigious degree. How could I give it all up just like that? I really couldn’t. Then, on the other hand, I loved writing as well, never mind I didn’t focus on it during my college years. I was so torn!
Eventually in 2016, when I had the first draft completed, I hired a friend in Marketing/PR and started putting it out there and doing what was necessary to make this journey complete. On November 20, 2016, I launched at a private gathering in New York and it was fabulous! It was also my birthday, so the double milestone/new beginnings theme worked out just fine. I was now a published author! Yay! I think if my parents were around they would be really proud. My Mom was a teacher and English was important to her, so for her to see me using my words to change lives, I think she would be immensely proud.
The most harrowing of this transition period I have to say was changing my mindset to accept where I was in my life at that time. That was the lesson in itself. I think many times we envision ourselves in places we were never called to be and the reality of that shatters our expectations, but if we just ACCEPT, we can embrace the journey and turn things around for ourselves. Writing Dancing At The Crossroad, was the catalyst to my healing and I created something that is helping others heal from their situations as well. Two years in and I can honestly say this transition was worth it because I am still doing something I love and most of all, I get to take others on this journey with me.
If you’re out there and have something that you are deeply passionate about but you can’t reconcile taking a leap of faith to make the transition, look at where all the signs are pointing. 1. You are naturally good at it. 2. It keeps you awake at night and has you up at the break of dawn in the mornings. 3. Most of all it brings you inner peace and not like work at all…consider that this may be your divine gift. This is where you should be shining!
My advice to you…take the leap!! That is all!