On Leaving IYS

I started writing for IYS about 3 1/2 years ago–right after college, when I was unemployed and job hunting. I found the site in a Craigslist ad and although they couldn’t pay, I figured it was a good thing to keep me busy, get me experience, and get me exposure. So when I finished job hunting for the day, which was normally when I ran out of new listings to look at and apply for, I’d churn out a quick article. For a little while, being unemployed and all, I was putting out a good bit, and I enjoyed doing it. Even without a paycheck, writing about music is just fun and cool. Even now, after I’ve left, I’ve had musicians’ PRs that I was in contact with notice that I’m writing for AXS and e-mail me, which is really cool and flattering, but I’m jumping ahead of myself.

I remember when I went in to interview for the job that I eventually got and am still at, my current boss saw IYS (among other writing ventures) on my resume and asked if I intended to keep up with them if I got the job, and I told her yes. And I stood by that–I let Examiner slide by until recently, but I did keep up with everything, just like I said.

Around the time I moved to Mt. Washington, the site was in need in of a features editor. I didn’t volunteer for it because I was concerned about the time commitment, but the editor-in-chief asked me directly if I’d do it, in part because, in his own words, I know my shit, and I agreed. And while the added responsibility and having to interact more with people, like those aforementioned PRs, was new, it was mostly still an enjoyable experience, and I kept at it until this past December, right at the end of the month.

I always knew it would be a temporary thing, a stepping stone to something else, and that I’d leave one day–I just always had this idea that I’d leave to pursue a different opportunity. When I saw some ads/calls for writers pop up (which I still need to follow up on), I realized I didn’t want to pass something up because IYS took most of my time, and I decided I’d apply and leave if I got it.

I can’t say that anything changed, really. Maybe it was just the idea of moving on that got me, even if it was much sooner than I ever would’ve planned–I thought I’d have more years there in me. Maybe it was a bunch of little things, but eventually, the plan of having something else lined up to take its place turned into leaving once I got things in order and felt comfortable passing everything on to someone else. That original deadline was around this time, actually. And then it somehow turned into a New Year’s resolution. And then it somehow turned into resigning before New Year’s, in part because I had some time to sit down and write out my resignation e-mail.

Like I said, there were little things–I started having a hard time writing about and pursuing original mixes from electronic musicians when I’ve been getting increasingly bored with the genre for at least the last year or so. So much of it sounds the same. There are certainly some standouts that I really love (I’m listening to Robyn as I type), but I was at a point where even though I was trying to keep up with the artists that we covered, I was unimpressed by their music at best and couldn’t tell certain artists, including our biggest pageview draws, apart. That’s really, really not good. In one of my last pre-resignation conversations with my editor, he suggested I see a DJ show in the area to get a better feel for what we wanted out of this mix series, and though I agree it would’ve been a smart thing to do and I would’ve been attending on a press pass, all I could think was, “There’s not a single DJ I’d care to see live.”

I also started questioning our quality, and focusing on site stuff was starting to be more of a source of a stress and not the enjoyment it was even one year ago. When I was in college and wasn’t studying or doing homework–especially if I went out–I felt like I should’ve been, and that feeling started to creep up and get heavier to the point that it was hard to truly enjoy free time and even being with my own boyfriend because I had this sense of foreboding like I was neglecting too much. Which is about the time I decided resigning would become a New Year’s resolution, because it just doesn’t make any sense to be stressed out unnecessarily. I realized I could walk away, and walking away was okay.

I also started feeling like said stress and the amount of work and time wasn’t worth the lack of pay, at least not at this point in my life and not anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still strongly believe in the merits of working for free, but part of the key to working for free is that people should be doing it by choice and as it fits into their lifestyle, and with feeling stressed out, it wasn’t fitting anymore.

In August, I got an opportunity to apply to write for AXS, and I got the gig. Because it wasn’t time-sensitive, I kind of put it off and kept it to a weekend gig, even though it paid. It pays only a few bucks an article, plus bonuses for pageviews and occasional incentives, but it’s still money. And in December, their incentive was that if you published 10 articles, your rate would go up for those articles. It would go up even more if you wrote 20. Basically, I had an opportunity to earn over $100 and potentially as much as I could churn out in a month, but I couldn’t take it because I had to focus on something else.

Then I realized that meant that one, I was losing money, and two, I already had the replacement project I’d intended on finding. And they would pay me.

And so, after 3 1/2 years, I left IYS. I would’ve been fine with staying on to do a little here and there on weekends, but I did leave completely. And while I expected a longer transition, a replacement was lined up for me within a day or so, I sent her everything she needed, and probably within a week or so, she had taken over.

So now I spend my time between Examiner, AXS, and having real downtime. I’d thought that leaving would grant me more free time, which didn’t entirely happen–because I replaced it with those two sites, it ends up being about the same as it was before. Although the difference now, aside from money, is that those two allow me to work much more independently, so there’s no outside pressure.

It’s been nice. And weird. I mean, this is really the first truly obligation-free time I’ve ever had, as opposed to doing more work after work.

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