Rollercoaster

And, here we go, back on the track of job uncertainty again. I’d be more anxious, but even job anxiety gets boring after a while, and in fact this feeling is entirely familiar. I’ve just worked out that I’ve spent about a third of my time with my current company wondering if I’ll continue to be employed, and if so, in what capacity. No doubt someone will let me know at some point; until then, I continue in limbo.

Meanwhile, because obviously it’s not possible just to sit around waiting, the steps are well worn: update CV – check; remind oneself of the recruitment agencies – check; run some initial searches on The Guardian, LinkedIn, The Bookseller, etc; sign up for Twitter feeds.

I have to say, it’s pretty depressing out there in job world. That’s not to say there aren’t loads of interesting jobs, it’s just that an entire working life spent in publishing seems to render one entirely unfitted for anything else. I’m also at a sort of awkward salary level, reasonably high for publishing (although still of the sort that makes friends in the real professions smile sympathetically and pay for dinner), but because I’ve jumped around a lot from editorial to online product development and somewhere in between, I don’t have the management experience that I probably ought to by this point.  (As a side note, I think publishing is in for a nasty shock as the transition to digital publishing continues and the overlap between product development and software development increases: the skills that are needed will not continue to come cheap.)

All of which forces some reassessment, a good exercise even if it does turn out to be theoretical. I’ve said before that I’m not career driven, and that’s true. I like to do new things because doing the same gets dull, and I like to keep learning. A career, whatever that actually means, is entirely meaningless in and of itself. I’m also not driven by money per se; there’s a certain standard of living I would prefer to maintain for myself, but how much that costs is heavily dependent on location. Oxford is bloody expensive. I could move elsewhere in the country (and I’d love to move north), drop a few thousand off my salary, halve my rent and end up in much the same financial position. Mostly at the moment, my concern is to ring fence Open University fees if I get accepted for the MPhil. The constraint then becomes that I’d need to be living within striking distance of a good Classics library.

It all gets thrown into the  mix, which means that the options become much broader than they at first appear. That, in turn, means I can go back to those job searches and widen some significant parameters. Who knows what will happen next?

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8 thoughts on “Rollercoaster

  1. litlove

    I think most people are feeling something similar at the moment. It’s just appalling out there in the marketplace, and probably horrific in most publishers. Could you ever see yourself striking out to run your own venture? I could see how publishing could end up being the domain of the small, cheap-to-run indies again.

  2. musingsfromthesofa Post author

    Litlove – I can’t see myself ever having any capital! But yes, I think publishing will splinter, and there’ll be more companies like Bespoke Editions. Reading remains a minority activity, after all, regardless of the plethora of devices.

  3. Annie

    Living on a fixed income, as I now do, is not the easiest form of existence. I howl with (manic) laughter when I hear people talking about coming out on strike for a bigger pay rise. However, when I read something like this I am so glad that I am no longer dependent on the job market. It may not be much, but at least what I have is fixed at something. I’m so sorry you’re in this position, especially as I suspect that most of the locations where publishing companies are based are going to be pretty much as expensive as Oxford. Sorry I can’t be of any practical help, but I am at least thinking of you.

  4. Ruth Sheppard

    I do sympathise. While I currently have different issues, mainly relating to whether I can continue to work freelance in the long run (as I would like) and be able (for which read, allowed by my bank) to own a house with a mortgage, the current state of the job world does worry me, as I fear I might never be able to get a ‘proper’ job again if I need one… Good luck with it, I’m sure you’ll find a solution. x

  5. Reno

    ;_; This is very scary to read, since I want to go into publishing when I finish university in a few years! When someone like you, who seems very qualified and such, isn’t sure how long you’ll be able to continue in your current position, it really just validates my fears that I won’t be able to get into the industry I want to when I finish school. Eep. I hope everything works out alright for you in the end! 🙂

  6. Debby

    I’m still out of work, and still not sure what to do. I love my freelance editing work, but I need something to supplement that. I’m too far from any city to commute, and so I just keep going in mental circles. I hope that you find your path, as they say, sooner than I have, and will end up in even better circumstances.

  7. musingsfromthesofa Post author

    Annie – That’s the bind with publishing, and yet it’s so unnecessary that location should still be an issue. I’d happily jump out of publishing, given the chance!

    Ruth – It must be a real balancing act for you, and I sympathise. Flexibility vs a perceived stable income, not a happy choice.

    Reno – I could not in all honesty recommend anyone go into publishing (save yourself, while you still can!); and in a few years’ time, who knows what will be left of it? But if you are set on that path, then it’s just important to understand that publishing is an industry like any other.

    Debby – I’m glad you’re getting freelance work, and I’m sorry about the mental circles because I’m familiar with them. I guess we both have to hope that companies wake up to the idea that location doesn’t have to be important and you don’t have to be in an office to be effective.

  8. Emily Barton

    I can’t imagine that your company won’t be able to find something for someone as smart and talented as you are. Man, do I want to start my own publishing company and snap up people like you, but I would need to sell things like the house in Maine (and my body, if anyone would have it) in order to do so. Work isn’t worth that.

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