I Should Have Known Better

The next chapter in the story of how I left corporate life to become an artist

I'm taking this opportunity, at the start of 2013, to tell some of the story of how I left corporate work to become an artist. Many of you have suggested that I write a book, and in these blog posts, I'm hoping to work out pieces that could become that book.

, I finally found a job as the editor of a newspaper in Rhode Island. 

Let's just say that I should have known better. 

I was 30 when I started in journalism, at The Westerly Sun. About two hours into my first day, I decided that I wanted to be the editor. That's where the fun was, that's where the power was, that's where you could make the most difference. I set out to become the editor, and 10 years later, I was hired into my first editorship, in a paper in Maryland. 

It did not go well. 

The publisher and I did not see eye to eye, and that's putting it mildly. My staff and I produced excellent work, but to my vast horror, I hated being the top dog. 


I'd worked hard for 10 years to become the editor of a paper. I'd moved Peter and me from Rhode Island to Idaho to Maine and to Virginia to win this prize that I so thought I wanted. I was horrified to find the job so completely unlike me. 


BUT BAD THINGS had happened during that first editorship. Peter's mother had died. Our Pekingese had died. I was diagnosed with fibroid tumors. My boss and I didn't get on. So maybe it wasn't the position. Maybe it was everything else. 

I took a job, then, as the editor of The Westerly Sun, the paper where I'd started my career in journalism. It was a little better, but not much. 

Day by day, I realized, with increasing clarity, that this was not the job for me. I was not corporate enough to unquestioningly support the publisher, and press upon my staff ideas and dictates with which I disagreed. 

Inevitably, in top-dog meetings, I was the only one who would voice disagreement, or question those dictates.

I hated driving my staff to do things that I thought were wrong. I also hated being the target of blame whenever something went wrong, or some staffer - disagreeing with what he or she perceived as a senseless dictate, would fail to follow it. 


IN SHORT, I WAS MISERABLE. And I sought and found refuge in art, taking a pottery class at the Stonington Community Center, and then throwing myself into pottery with a passion.

In a matter of months, I was teaching, and then, running the pottery program. I think that this is perhaps the first time that art saved me. 

Fast forward to 2007. My job as Sunday editor and part of the newsroom management team had been eliminated, and I needed work. I took a job as editor of a paper in West Warwick, RI, knowing that I probably shouldn't. But I needed a job, and they needed an editor, and so, with trepidation, I accepted. 

Without going into great detail (I'll go into newspapers and their death spiral in later chapters), let it suffice to say that it didn't work. A year or so after I started, I quit. 

I'd been painting, and I'd been selling paintings, and what I knew was that those two things made me happier than anything I'd ever done. 

So on a Thursday, I left full-time employment. On Friday, I packed my car. And on Saturday, I set out on my very first painting journey, to Wisdom, Montana, which was - at the time - my favorite place on earth. 

Carrie Jacobson grew up in New London. She was the editor of the Montville Patch until May, when she moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and started making and selling art full-time. To see more of her work, click here to reach her blog, The Accidental Artist. She is scheduled to have an exhibit at the Groton Public Library in April. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Robbie Tangreti January 22, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Carrie, are you related to William H. Macy? Just wondering..
Lisa Tosti Endres January 22, 2013 at 07:46 PM
I loved reading your article, and agree, you should write a book. I used to live in CT and now in FL. What do I do ta assure I don't miss any of the "I should have known better" articles? I also love your artwork. So glad you pursued what made you happiest.
Carrie Jacobson January 22, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Thank you, Jacobo. Corporate life was good to me for a long time - good enough that if I hadn't been forced out, I would never have known that there was a better life. We have made monumental changes, moving out of CT to much cheaper VA, moving from a fairly big house to a very small one, buying only the things that we truly need. Even though our income has shrunken to a fraction of what it was when I was working for a large corporation, our happiness and freedom have increased immeasurably. This is the best thing we've ever done.
Carrie Jacobson January 22, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Thank you, Ben. That's just what it feels like. I've finally found it.
Carrie Jacobson January 22, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Hi, Lisa! Thank you for your comment. You can subscribe to get my blog by email, and you'll get all the pieces of the book and all the new paintings. Go to carriejacobson.blogspot.com, and look on the right-hand side of the page. Put your email address in the box, confirm it, and there you go! I appreciate your interest.


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