Being a freelance writer, quite frankly, sucks, and that suction seems to get just a little stronger every year. The pay is - if you're lucky - stuck at the same "you're-shittin'-me?" subsistence level at which it's always been, even as the cost of business and living continues to rocket into the stratosphere. Cost-of-living adjustments? To a freelancer, a COLA ain't nothin' but a can of pop, and one which they can ill-afford most days.
And if you're unlucky, you've either lost paying markets altogether or what markets you've managed to hang on to pay far less than they once did. These days, "content" is king. Good writing? Optional.
When you're a freelancer your entire career, such as it is, is on spec. There are no expense accounts, no benefits, no health insurance, no retirement or 401(k) matches, no prospects for advancement or promotion, no job security, and what paychecks do intermittently show up in your mailbox generally only get there after repeated dunning on your part. And then, when you finally open the envelope? That's when the desperate, nervous laughter starts...
Throw in the increasingly common demand that you sign away all future rights to your work through "all rights" or "work-for-hire" contracts (and thereby denying you the legal ability to make a little more money to supplement the pittance you originally received) and it's easy to see why most freelancers I know (excepting perhaps the single, childless ones) are looking to leave full-time freelancing altogether and find a real job.
I'm no different, and I make no bones about the fact that if a decent job came along I'd jump at it, even if it meant giving up writing. It's been my primary full-time occupation for a long time now. I'd miss it. I'm not a world beater, but I'm not bad. I've written for some very good and very large books, and yes, there's a certain cachet to writing for some publications. But cachet don't pay the bills.
So all that's background for why I was perusing the federal job website a few days ago. (And fellow writers, the job code for us writer/editor types is 1082, if'n yer interested. A further list of job codes can be found here).
And while I was perusing the employment opportunities, I stumbled upon the coolest job want ad ever
Job Title:Astronaut Candidate
Agency:Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
|$64,724.00 to $141,715.00 / Per Year|
|Tuesday, November 15, 2011 to Friday, January 27, 2012|
SERIES & GRADE:
|Full Time - Permanent|
|Few vacancy(s) in the following locations: |
Houston, TXView Map
WHO MAY BE CONSIDERED:
|This announcement is open to all qualified U.S. citizens.|
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a need for Astronaut Candidates to support the International Space Station (ISS) Program and future deep space exploration activities.
What's not to like? The pay's decent, you get a great office view, you can whiz in your suit whenever you want, and you get to float all day long. Of course, Houston kinda sucks (sorry Houstonites) and there is that omnipresent risk of fiery, instant death. But on balance, it sounds like a pretty cool job. Think I'll get the resume polished up, send it off and see what happens.
I'll keep you posted...