Needing a Job... Again...

If I could, I would write full-time. That is what I want, and what I have dreamed of since first grade. To be a professional writer. 

Teaching seemed like a good way to support writing. But, no luck with that approach. 

Under-employed or unemployed, whatever I am about to be is everything I've hated about life since I left my undergraduate college in early 1991.

Each time I dream of a stable, "normal" future, one with a career that allows for some order in life, the job goes sideways and my plans disintegrate. Attempts to create my own career have ended badly, too, for various reasons. No excuses: I simply am not good at the soft skills needed for success. I've worked on those skills, but they never develop. I am lousy at understanding people, and I lack the superior tech skills or proper degree to overcome that shortcoming.

I can program, manage databases, configure Web servers, but I'm not the next app wizard. I never mastered OS X / iOS programming, but I wish I had. Coding still feels like where I belonged, but I also keep resisting that path because my creative writing takes so much time and energy.

I turn to coding because it is a real skill. People pay programmers and techs. I'm not likely to pay many bills with my writing. Coding would be a better fit than teaching writing courses. Or maybe teaching about tech was the best path. I'll never know.

Teaching about writing isn't a good fit for me, because I am not like other teachers of writing. I am different. I love writing and language. I don't appreciate the views and biases of writing instruction. My success as a writer contradicts much that my discipline assumes about good writing.

Last summer, four of my plays were produced and two had public readings. That meant I had to focus on the scripts. But, those works do not provide income. I'm a sort-of-successful regional writer, but that's not a career. Not a job.

Having completed a Ph.D. in the "digital humanities" (lacking a better, trendier name), with a focus on educational website design, I thought I might end up teaching somewhere. I've taught, yes, but I've never managed to land and keep the full-time, long-term, tenure-track post that is necessary for security. I've been in writing courses, trying to fit in with writing teachers.

What's next for me? I'm tired of flailing about, searching for whatever I can find, only to be miserable and desperate.

I'm a good teacher. My reviews state this. My course evaluations state this. And yet, I cannot master the back-office, beyond the classroom aspects of academia. Outside my classroom, I fail to connect with colleagues. And I find myself moving on, again and again. Not one teaching job has lasted, nor has any job other than a programming and consulting gig I had as a student worker in the late 1980s.

I would like to sit at home and write. That's what I seem to do well. But without financial security, I'm forced to turn to the acceptable tech skills I do have.

My dream was a job. A career. A house. A family.

Life didn't work out the way I wanted. I kept chasing the idea of having a career. That's why I went to graduate school. I completed a degree hoping it might help me as a writer. It was a stupid idea, looking back. I should have completed something technical, because I get along with technical people — at least within academia. It isn't that I don't enjoy teaching writing (I do), but outside my classroom, the colleagues I relate to are the technical faculty, the scientists and technologists.

I'm tired. I'm back to where I was in 2010. Where I was in 2004. Where I was in 2002. Where I have been so many times, on such a regular schedule. Unemployed. Stuck. Feeling like the only path is to create my own path, knowing that doing so hasn't worked out in the past.

It's hard to explain, this cycle of job loss: attempts to escape, returns to school, and the constant failures. I know I'm a good teacher. A good writer. An okay techie. And I'm forever chasing the elusive career as something, to help pay the bills.

What's next? Not a clue, but I'm ready to stop trying to "invest in my future" because there's no more time or money to invest. I'm out of options and tired of draining the one person close to me.


  1. Consider teaching English in another country. Schools prefer native English speakers. My cousin teaches in Thailand. Couldn't find a job here. Has been happily living there for years and teaching despite having to cope with epilepsy. There she also gets reasonably priced healthcare. She says something about needing to take a TOEIC test. Hope you find something that works for you.

  2. I hate travel and need my routine. Plus, my wife and cats aren't going to move to another country. She has a great job and the cats are happy.

  3. Hey there.

    I found your blog and just wanted to tell you that you're not alone. I'm Autistic as well (Kanner's, not Asperger's; 30-40 G.A.F.) and in a very similar boat. I'm less than a year from 40 and haven't been able to hold a job for longer than maybe 6 months without being incredibly overstimulated, and then running away (sometimes literally LoL) screaming, never to return--quitting and/or being fired over the phone.

    My life has been... interesting, for lack of more descriptive words (and I'm willing to bet a *great* deal of money that your life has been as well). I, too, write, and I'm going to college right now to finish my Bachelor's in English with a Minor in Japanese. I have been writing since I was very young: at least 8 years old, if not younger, and in different genres, from sci-fi to crime to romance to poetry.

    It's frustrating (to me) when I get folks giving me advice on what to do when they don't really understand my challenges and circumstances. SO... I just wanted to let you know--I totally hear you. I hope everything works out for you. <3


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