I’m currently working at a preschool in downtown NYC as the lead teacher in a 2-year-old classroom, and while I love the kids and truly enjoy my job, I know it’s not something I can keep doing forever. It’s stressful. The kids are great, but they never listen, they always cry, and it doesn’t change. I get one kid to adjust to life away from mommy and daddy and a new student joins my class and has the same problems. There’s no progression, only cycles. The worst part for me, I think, is that I get so attached to these kids, and when it’s time for them to move on from my class (it’s all done by age, not school year, so the arrivals and departures are constant), it hurts. I know it has to be done and they can’t stay two forever (parents out there know this feeling), but it’s tough to have to say goodbye to someone, even though they’re only two, you consider a friend.
So I’m on the hunt for a new job. I had an interview last Friday for a job writing scripts on a TV show (I won’t say more for confidentiality reasons, the show isn’t even announced yet), and it went very well. I think I could get that job, but it would be mostly as a freelance writer. They said they might bring some writers on full time, which would be amazing for me, but it doesn’t seem likely. So I need to brush up on my freelance skills if I’m going to make a career out of it. And that means getting serious about this blog. That also means I need to work on my social media presence. I have a twitter but I really don’t use it like I should. Facebook I have down, but maybe I should make a page for my writing. Maybe I should get some writing published first so I’ll have something to put on that page.
I also have a phone interview scheduled next week to be a tutor. The listed pay was shockingly high for a tutoring job, so I applied and got the interview. That’s a promising option, but I really don’t think that would be a full time gig. The hourly rate, if it is a full-time job, would translate to about 170k/yr . Somehow I don’t think the demand is that high for tutors.
So, I have some questions. Some for my benefit, some as food for thought.
- How do you break into freelance writing? How do you find the jobs? I see them all over Indeed but I never get any calls or emails back. Do I need to have experience to get experience? (hopefully this blog helps, but I’ll need to write about more than just myself)
- How do benefits work as a freelancer? I’m aware of freelancersunion.org, is that the best way to go?
- What are your job search stories? What do you do that you think sets you apart?
- A deeper question: In today’s world, STEM careers are valued very highly, and for good reason. However, most people view careers in the arts as low-brow, which is almost the exact opposite of reality. Have we, as a society, outgrown art? I don’t think so. There is still art everywhere, and at least here in NYC there are museums everywhere as well. There must still be some demand for art, but there’s no money in it. During the renaissance, artists were some of the most respected people alive (who hasn’t heard of Michelangelo?), but ever since the industrial revolution, art seems to be dying, albeit slowly. How do we get art back?
I’ll try and answer number four. I don’t know if we can, and if we can, it’s going to be very hard. People view art as a hobby these days. Why would somebody pay someone to do a hobby? Why is somebody going to pay a blogger when there’s such a plethora of free blogging sites out there? Everybody and their brother has a blog these days. I’m actually quite late to the party. And you know why? Because I do not view blogs as an art form. Blogs are a good way to express opinions and thoughts, but our culture now is so obsessed with 140 character limits that our attention span barely gets out of the first paragraph before we get bored. There’s no appreciation for art.
And that’s why we see the proliferation of clickbait articles like “10 amazing ways to do x!” or “you won’t believe what happened after y!” People want mindless entertainment. So we make our clickbait and our sometimes-funny one-liners on twitter in the hopes that somehow, we can scrape together some semblance of a living out of the thing we used to have a passion for.
You know I actually applied and wrote samples for a clickbait site not too long ago. I was kind of disgusted with myself. But here was someone that was willing to pay for the one specialty I have. And you can argue that it’s my own fault for not going into a STEM field, and in a way it is. I could have done very well in STEM fields. I scored in the 98-99th percentile in science for every standardized test I ever took. But here’s the rub: science and learning is *my* hobby. Writing is my skill. I love learning about random stuff. It’s why Cosmos is one of my favorite shows. Every episode blows my mind and I love it. I think it’s okay that I like science as a hobby and writing as a skill. Most people see it the other way around, and that’s okay too.
The problem is there’s not really any way to distinguish between the writing hobbyists and the career writers. To publish a scientific study, there are regulations in place. There are peer reviews and scientific journals, and experiments are held to rigorous standards. There’s no such thing for writers. There’s no blog sites that have credentials checks. There’s no degree qualification to write this post, actually. I have an English degree, and I’m telling you that, but I could be lying, and this site would let me post it anyways. How many scientific journals would publish a study without verifying credentials? None. But every blog will.
And that’s the problem. Everyone is blogging. From the casual bloggers to the experienced writers to the retirees and everyone in between. This creates a false sense of high supply and low demand. As such, employers get away with paying writers less. You can argue that STEM fields have more of a demand and affect humankind more, and therefore they deserve more pay. While it is certainly true that the people who are curing cancer and AIDS are saving more lives, please stop discounting the positive effects of good art. Art is popularly viewed as anything that evokes emotion in the viewer. This promotes positive mental health, which is a HUGE issue right now. The stigmas around mental health are very real, to the point where most people refuse to seek out a therapist out of fear of being seen as “crazy.”
Well, I have a bit of news for all of you: we’re all crazy. Some of us just hide it better. We can all benefit from art; it’s time to start realizing it.