A few years ago I was doing book reviews for a local publication, and I wrote an article on the importance of reading the Forward of a book. I told my readers that if you skip the Forward, you sometimes are missing an important part of the book. That’s the case with The Freelance Academic which is LOL hilarious! After reading the Forward before I even got to the main text I had two threads of thought. 1: it reminded me of my challenging undergraduate experience; and 2: the strength of maintaining your sanity, grace, and thought process to constantly update and change your resume depending on the circumstances surrounding your changing lifestyle.
Let me clarify. I began my undergraduate studies as an older adult so that meant I was ‘the only older student’ in all of my classes. My teachers varied from the newly doctorate pool to the seasoned professor. All of them seemed to ooze a prejudice to my existence in their classrooms; I had some world experience, and that was a threat to these pros. In The Freelance Academic, the main character Katie shares similar stories of stodgy self-centered academics blocking change and growth for others.
Now to the second thread which is also a central theme within the pages of The Freelance Academic. I have admiration for anyone who works out the equations necessary in today’s world in order to move forward in the workplace. Someone who can work with the tools they have under constantly changing circumstances. It is a gift that keeps that person from getting lost in the gray fog of a job for years to come. That is how I would describe the life of Katie in this book; she removed herself from the fog and found it was freeing.
For eleven years, Katie worked as an adjunct professor at a top university with no possibility of tenure. She finally left the life of academia, putting her skills to work in other, more meaningful avenues. Katie had analyzed the absurdities of the higher education hierarchy. She had tried to address the harder questions of how to make higher education better for students, staff, and faculty. She finds that it takes stepping back from something before you can take notice of how much improvement it needs.
Survival is something not everyone can achieve. I connected with Katie’s stories on many levels. I saw many of my colleagues who had trapped themselves in positions for years never growing. Unable to embrace change, captured by the stereotyped ‘shush librarian’, lost in the fog of their profession. In The Freelance Academic, we see Katie escape the mist; shine above the rest and recreate herself over and over and grow professionally and personally.
Her journey includes a decade of school (achieving two PHD’s), and over a decade teaching at a top-notch university. When Katie finally breaks the bonds with her academic entity and frees herself of a ‘regular job’ she suffers an identity crisis. While she is not immediately prepared for the break, she continues to plow forward to design her new self-employed lifestyle.
The Freelance Academic follows Katie as she realizes that for many of us, our lives are just copies of what others are undergoing and that once we can discard the guilt, we can move forward. In freeing herself from her prior life, Katie will create new communities in the areas required for her career change; she will put her work out there on different venues; create a new website; use social media to showcase her writing skills and begin her new business as a writer. Her story comes with a host of realizations that carry Katie down many pathways on her journey.
This book has so much good advice; I found myself reading excerpts out-loud to my husband (who is finishing a writing project). Finally, I told him he needs to read the book himself. I cannot say enough good things about all the informative work in this book. A great book for writers. Oh, and if you are a James Bond fan; well you will have to read the book to know what I mean. Happy Reading!