• Reji Laberje

FIRED . . . UP!!!

Updated: May 13, 2019

When I first began sharing content - whether in my blogs or websites, through social media, or at live and online events or classes - one thing I promised was that I was always going to be raw with you, even if it was a bit ugly. I was reflecting recently on business transitions because, as a writer, I find myself in them often. When books finish and launch, when publishers change directions, and when classes wrap up, I have moments of wonder about the next chapter in my story of helping others to tell theirs. Thinking about these inevitable ending transitions made me realize that I should tell you about the first time in my life that I experienced the ultimate "forced transition" . . . being fired.

I had been let go from a role that was about more than just writing, publishing, or marketing skills; it was about taking part in the administrative work, foundation-building, and vision-planning of a young publishing organization that had some potential to grow. To me, that was incredibly exciting. I could dream and envision a future, while also bringing my industry knowledge to fruit.

As artists or entrepreneurs, how many of you work, not for the big paycheck, but because you believe in what you are building?

My excitement was because I did believe.

Being fired . . . maybe it's just a launch to the next thing. Released from your braces, you are free to fly!

The owner and I had been working to find ways to use some of my skills and services of the time integrated with his company. It took huge trust; I had to put so many of my original creations on the line: classes, processes, and other things I had developed. But, I've always told my students that their work can't make it if they're not putting their work into the world. So, I took the risk. I was too idealistic, perhaps. The owner didn't share my vision and I was fired after we couldn't reach an agreement on the nature of our partnership. It was his company and his right to let me go, but it came as a shock to me. I'd already begun to reshape what my work would be through the the lens of his company. It was the first time I'd ever been fired. While initially shocked by the ending, if we couldn't have figured out how to properly start together, I am convinced it would have been much worse in the long run had we moved forward together. I've always been a person who believes things happen for reasons and God doesn't only open doors, he occasionally closes them.

This one He slammed.

Have you ever had slammed doors from publishers? Agents? Companies? Because I had cleared a lot of my independent work at that time off of my plate to make room to serve the company that had hired me, the firing kind of left me staring at a blank page.

As a writer, how do YOU feel about blank pages?

Personally, for my own writing, I'd rather start with too much and have to edit it down, than have nothing to work with! I've always filled my figurative page in business. I get in a panic that the work won't come (even though it always does), and - in that fear - I take it all on. It's like when you fill up on the bread brought to your dinner table, such that - when the entree arrives, a gourmet delicacy - you're not even hungry. I WANT THE ENTREE!

What is the bread in your business?
What is the delicacy?

After every engagement, in somewhat of a wanderlust, I found myself in a transition that I felt a need to fill. When I was fired, that wanderlust was accompanied by uncertainty. That blank page was scary. What if I didn't put the right thing on it? I had to learn that a firing, just like the end of any project, gave me the opportunity, and not the obstacle, of seeing that blank page. I could imagine anew, like I'd taught other writers to do for years. And the things I put on that page, regardless of how they would turn out, would become a part of my story. And that's the job, isn't it? Write the story. Launch that pen forward. Let the pages fly.

Have you ever been fired?
What if being fired was just a launch to your next thing; released from your braces, you found yourself free to fly?

When my own firing happened, I hadn't even realized that I'd gotten away from creative development, stuck in the weeds of "business". My vocation and my job had been merged throughout my adulthood and I was simply plugging along on each next logical step on the career ladder, but it wasn't a ladder I had a part in building. I was growing and climbing because I could do so more than because I wanted to do so.

I remember the weekend after getting let go, I was supposed to be very busy with work. Instead, I got to attended performances by family friends - young women who told personal stories through dance, music, and monologues. On that same weekend, I also got to listen to my jazz-singing daughter. (Check out where her incredible music performances have led her, today! Oh - believe me; I know. Flippin' awesome, right?! She got my volume and artistry and her father's sense of pitch and musical ability - glad it wasn't the other way around); I went to a children's production that involved another family member; I worked at my church discussing the message with first-time visitors; I watched and appreciated a friend's video creation; and - to put a bow on it all, I took in a movie with my children.

That weekend after my life's only ever firing turned out to be several days spent on fire for the POWER OF STORY. And what did that do for my book project? The writing work I did on a book I'd been developing was flowing like I hadn't experienced in years, leaving me fired...UP...about the amazing work to come. And that work did come. In mere days. I actually felt grateful for having been shown the door and time only grows that gratitude. I was able to think about the kind of things I wanted on the blank page in front of me. It turns out that company and its owner didn't even meet my minimum requirement of aligning with my values.

As I reflect on the end of my first projects this year, another period of transition, I think this memory serves a purpose. It reminds me that blank pages are opportunities. I'm fired UP for the projects in front of me and the pen is, quite literally, in my hand.

You may notice some changes around here, by the way. I'm on fire about it! If you've been to my under-construction website, you've gotten a glimpse at my new look:

But, I have a refreshed new outlook, too. I'm still all about "BETTER WORDS FOR A BETTER WORLD" here at Bucket List to Bookshelf, and I still have values including relationship, engagement, voice, and captivation. It's just that personal reflections during transitions help remind me why I do it. I can't see it when my page is scribbled on. I can't taste it when I am full of bread.

-I see it now.

-I taste it now.

-I never want to forget the power of story.

  • For that endeavor, I look forward to giving you MORE for FREE.

  • I look forward to having offerings guided by creativity and your ideas!

  • I look forward to celebrating your works.

  • I look forward to building my partnerships with all of you.

I want you to come to me as your coach, consultant, and - eventually - friend in the world of writing and publishing on a more personal level than ever before. I look forward to bringing you the same depth of experience as I've always brought you.

Are you ready to get fired UP with me?

~Yours in writing,



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