Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Right now I am having a "crisis of professional faith" of sorts.  As you should all know by now, I am in a Masters degree program for a MA in History, with a focus in Ancient and Classic Cultures.  After this weekend (assuming I pass my current class) I will have seven classes left before I reach that goal.

But then what?

A MA in History, when combined with about five bucks, can get me a Happy Meal.  And that's about it.  I can't move into teaching, because I need to have specific teaching credentials or a PhD (either way, even more school).  And there isn't a whole lot of call for people with that sort of education anyways.  So, I am here, racking up student debt, all for a piece of paper that says I am intelligent and well-read, but with no special skills.  My most marketable skills are those that I have gained from fifteen years working in the trenches as an office-monkey and cubicle commando.

Oh, but I have writing skills.  I can spin a good yarn, so I'm told.  But, with recent rumblings in the publishing industry, there isn't much of a positive outlook on that.  I know professional writers, with multiple novels under their belts, that are having to take second jobs just to make ends meet.  Writing has become a devil's choice.  You either write for commercial success, or you write for personal fulfillment, hoping that others want to share in that.  It seems a very rare few can have it both ways these days.

Then there's my day job.  I work for a great government department, whose primary purpose is to help families with children cope with the realities of a depressed society, family dysfunctions, and unforeseen unemployment.  My boss is the best boss I have ever had.  I get a lot of freedom to do my own thing, as long as I keep up on my work tasks.  But, on the downside, I make about 20% less than my lowest-paid private-sector contemporaries.  Add to that the fact that I have yet to get a raise in the past two and a half years, and in fact have seen my take-home drop so my governor can point to black ink on a ledger.

I'm not bitter at all.

I know I usually try to be upbeat and positive here.  But sometimes...

I'll try to be more positive later, after I process all of the crises my life is handing me.


The Happy Whisk said...

That was a good post, Tom. I like when Bloggers share stuff like this. I'm sorry you're having a rough go and 2.5 years without a raise does in fact, suck monkey balls.

I am considering cookery school but with the cost, I dunno for sure.

The Happy Whisk said...

PS: I don't see that we always have to be upbeat in our blog posts. Sometimes it's nice to blog about this stuff and hear from other folks going through the same thing.

Wishing you the best. Cheers and boogie boogie.

Tom Doolan said...

Thanks, Whisk. I appreciate the kind words. :)

Keith West said...

I hate to hear you're hitting a rough spot. Having fought all the way to a Ph.D., I hear where you're coming from in regards to school. I wish I had some profound wisdom to pass along, but I don't. Hang in there, make the best decision you can under the circumstances when you have to make decisions, and know that this too shall pass. And that you're not alone.

Charles Gramlich said...

I definitely don't think making a living at writing is in the cards for most of us. Many universities do hire masters level teachers but usually as adjuncts, which means there isn't a lot of room for advancement.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Hope your spirits perk up.

Yes, I think at this point, given my age and distractions, writing for fun/hobby is my path. And I'm okay with that.

I still want to see my name on the spine of a printed book, and I will get there, eventually.

Good luck choosing your path(s.)