An anonymous author just posted an article on Gawker about the malaise of the publishing industry that struck rather close to home for me. The fall of print media in conjunction with the recent economic crisis has forced a lot of editors and writers to reassess their career options (many of my former colleagues have lost their jobs in recent months), but I remember coming to this point years ago when I got my first 1099. I was making barely enough to survive before taxes, but then when April rolled around, I suddenly found that even with all the deductions I could make, I still owed Uncle Sam almost $2,000. On top of that, I had no health insurance, and if I got laid off, I wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment since I was a freelancer.
It felt like America was punishing me for not making enough money. The sad fact is that many people in a wide range of industries are feeling the same thing these days, which is why the debate over universal health care makes me particularly livid. But, contrary to the grim assessment at the end of the article, I don’t really feel that we are truly ‘fucked’.
While many people I worked with genuinely loved their work and felt that magazine publishing was their calling, just as many, like myself, got funneled into the industry because they were unsure what they really wanted to do. For these people, getting laid off or having opportunities dry up may be a blessing in disguise — it forces us to not cling so hard to jobs that were unstable and weren’t making us happy anyway, and to develop other skills and pursue other avenues that may in the end be much more fulfilling.