Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Houston, We Have A Slam Dunk...

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
Department:National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Agency:Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Job Announcement Number:JS12A0001


$64,724.00 to $141,715.00 / Per Year


Tuesday, November 15, 2011 to Friday, January 27, 2012




Full Time - Permanent




Few vacancy(s) in the following locations:
Houston, TX
View Map


This announcement is open to all qualified U.S. citizens.


NASA, the world's leader in space and aeronautics is always seeking outstanding scientists, engineers, and other talented professionals to carry forward the great discovery process that its mission demands. Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind. That's what it takes to join NASA, one of the best places to work in the Federal Government.
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.
I think I fall very nicely under that "other talented professional" category. No, seriously, I think I'd make a helluva good astronaut. Think about it: I'm creative (because, like, most writers are, right?). I'm ambitious, I run my own business (never mind that it's bankrupt). I can work on a team (as long as they're not a bunch of assholes). I'm extremely daring (won't get into it...). And probing mind? Why, my mind is a veritable proboscis of probing. Literally. I've got this... thing coming out of my head, like a proboscis. I was planning on surgery to have it removed, 'cause it's always getting caught in car doors and elevators, but after seeing this ad I think I'll hold off on that.

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...


  1. Wow, Astronauts Don't get Paid Very Much! LOL!

  2. I was a door gunner on the space shuttle. I can't really talk much about it, but it was the best job ever.

  3. And hey, when Jodie Foster got up there she flat-out said they should have sent an artist!

  4. New to the whole blog scene. Been reading you for a few months. Really enjoy the humor you bring to the crazy time we live in. I think you would make a great astronaut! Can provide great letter of recommendation - Dear NASA, Please consider Mr. Love for your current vacancy. Don't forget to read his blog "The Mallard of Discontent" when doing your background check. - oops.