Freelance writer Michelle Goodman has been sharing her experience and advice with other self-employed writers for a long time, so it was logical that her first book be The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube. The book launches at a reading and party Sat., Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.
The Shoreline resident began freelancing in the early 1990s.
“I started too early in my career,” she realizes now, when there was little in the way of support groups, and certainly before there were Internet user groups. “It was before Al Gore invented the Internet,” she laughs.
She had just moved to the Bay Area, where she had no friends or business contacts. Eventually she found one client, which led to work with a computer book publishing company.
That led in turn to technical writing, the bread-and-butter work she does alongside the more entertaining journalism and essays in which she tackles not just the vagaries of self-employment, but quirks of dating and the single life.
I asked her if women today were more likely to think about being entrepreneurs.
“The trend is the way women are starting careers,” Michelle thinks. “Women plan from the get-go: how can I set myself up so I can work more flexibly if I need to?”
This fall, Goodman was chosen as a writer-in-residence at Hedgebrook, a writing retreat for women on Whidbey Island. Only about 40 women are selected each year for stays ranging from two weeks to two months (Goodman’s was two-and-a-half weeks).
“What’s blissful,” says Michelle, “is that you’re cut off from technology.”
The “technology elimination program” was hard, she says, but “you see what your procrastination and weird work habits are.”
A native of Livingston, N.J., Goodman remains nostalgic for the large Jewish population that was ever-present in the New York metropolitan area, even after over 15 years on the West Coast.
“I’m not religious, and it’s not something I think about much,” Michelle says, “but when I do think about it, it’s something I wish was here a little more.”
Meanwhile, she has spent the last decade building a community of writer friends who share tips and tribulations, and spend a lot of time going to each others’ book readings. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking and beach walks and playing with her “80-pound lap dog,” Buddy.
At www.anti9to5guide.com you can find a schedule of Michelle’s readings and stories of other women who have busted out of the office cubicle.
The Pacific Northwest has a new Young Judaea supervisor, Rachel George, with full-time responsibilities coordinating programming in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Northern California for the Hadassah-affiliated youth program.
“I organize regional conventions and promote the summer camp,” Rachel says, referring to Camp Young Judaea West. “Camp is the most important program,” and conventions give campers a chance to reunite during the school year.
George is also keeping her part-time job, teaching 7th graders at Temple Beth Am in Seattle. She’s taught modern Hebrew and the Holocaust at the supplementary school, as well as Israeli film and literature, and a class about Christianity. This last one is particularly important to her.
“They had all these misconceptions,” she says of her students, “I thought it was important for them to understand the differences.”
Rachel supplemented her own education this summer with a Livnot-sponsored two-week trip to Israel (Livnot U’Lehibanot is part of the birthright israel program.). Her group was there during the war with Lebanon, and stayed to help.
“They canceled our trip to Tzfat,”she says, “but we went anyway, helped rebuild bomb shelters and interviewed shopkeepers about how the lack of tourism was affecting the economy.”
Originally from northern Minnesota, 23-year-old George came west to attend the University of Puget Sound, majoring in French and English Literature and working two summers as an au pair, in France and in Israel.
“I didn’t start studying Hebrew until I was 19 or 20,” she shares, “and I’m still working on it.” She also didn’t find out she was Jewish until she was in college.
“I was raised in a secular family,” she relates. In college, “I became interested in Judaism independently and then found out that my mother was Jewish.
“I studied…in school and on my own. When you decide to become active in a religion you should study, so you can understand it on a deeper level.”
George works in Seattle with the other YJ staffers, Tali Gourarie and Rachel Groman, who have the most direct contact with the kids.
YJ is about to start its leadership course for high school students in leadership positions in the Jewish community, or who would like to be. The course teaches leadership skills, with a focus on working with younger children. Participants can be involved in any youth group. “We want to make them all better leaders,” says George.
For more information call Rachel at 425-453-5589.