Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on this momentous occasion! Today we step over a line from one career to the next. Scared but hopeful, frightened but determined, with legions of bored gods at our back, we are leaping into the abyss of novelty.
Just now I heard the satisfying "crunch" as the Recycle Bin emptied the 200-plus page Style Guide for Contemporary Authors. I am no longer a writer. Now I'm a teacher.
Goodbye to the days of begging for paychecks, worrying about getting enough assignments, going blind trying to read copy through a thorny hedge of computer codes. Goodbye to the days of working for a competitor who pulled the rug out from under my career. Goodbye to insufficient wages. Goodbye to the realization that a once-fine product has become cheapened and destroyed in the name of profit margin.
Goodbye also to being my own boss, to setting my own hours, to working in my jammies, to coffee breaks that include shoving a load of laundry into the machine. Goodbye to being available if my kid gets sick at school, if a package needs to be mailed. Goodbye to reading the occasionally interesting reviews of a mildly interesting book.
Anne Johnson and Contemporary Authors: 1985-2009.
They say that those who can't do, teach. I've never bought that. But just in case it's true for most teachers, it certainly isn't true for me. From 1986 through 2004 I generated more than 500,000 words a year (yep, true) for reference books. I wrote four published nonfiction books and a novel that -- doggone it -- is going to be published some day to great fanfare!
Contemporary Authors now sells individual entries that I wrote for $9.95 apiece on Amazon. I would say only about 8 percent of the major authors I wrote about have made that list. Mostly dead dudes. But if you're curious, you can see the list by typing in my full name, Anne Janette Johnson. (Of course I get no kickback from the company. Why else would I be starting a new chapter?)
I loved writing for those ref books. Loved it. Until 2004. But I'm proud to say that when my career got crushed in the maw of corporate greed, I picked up, opened another door, proved myself to some extent, and now am getting a shot at my first full-time job in 22 years.
I even get a union card.