A few weeks ago, I was appointed to a position with the government. (The American one.) If you’ve stumbled upon this information for the first time, you may have some questions. That’s natural, and I would like to soothe your fears, and/or create new ones, by providing you with answers:
Q. Do you really work for the government?
A. Yes. Technically, many people you interact with work for the government, including the people you’d expect — like the police officer who writes you a ticket when you’ve driven the wrong way down a one-way street after too much of Grandma’s eggnog, and the staff of the DMV who make you wait for several hours before telling you that you’ve accumulated enough points on your record that you won’t be legally allowed to drive yourself home — or those you might not realize are government employees, like city bus drivers, public library librarians, or the crossing guard out front of your child’s school.
Q. Are any of those your job?
Q. What do you do?
A. After careful consideration, I and my superiors feel that it would be better if that information remained classified for now.
Q. Are you a spy?
Q. Then why can’t you tell me what you do?
A. I could tell you, but then I’d have to k- no, wait. No. I definitely don’t kill people. Let’s just say I work in “health administration”.
Q. So you work for a hospital?
A. No. Why don’t you ask me something else?
Q. If you work full-time at a day job now, does that mean you’re quitting freelancing?
A. Absolutely not! I love writing. It’s a part of my life I could never giving up. And editing isn’t just a way to use my own skills so they don’t get rusty; it’s also my way of giving back to the writing community by offering online workshops, discounted edits for those who can’t afford my standard rates, and by publishing diverse, quality speculative fiction which might not otherwise have found a home. Having a dayjob means that I won’t have to scramble for work just to pay my rent, or waste time chasing jobs which don’t materialize. I can take the work that comes to me, as I have time.
Q. You must make a lot, working for the government, right?
A. Well… no. I make a reduced hourly rate for the first nine months, while I’m in the probationary period, and out of that comes health insurance payments, mandatory payment into the pension, payment into the other retirement plan, and union dues. (Yes, I’m in a union. No, you won’t guess which one.) My take home pay will actually be just enough to pay my rent each month, and keep the heat on. Not enough to buy groceries, repair my breaking-down 20 year old car, or the clothes my son insists on growing out of every few months… But knowing that I won’t be homeless anytime soon, that’s a humongous relief. Add to that the fact that I’ve now got good health insurance, and that 25 years from now, when I do retire and spend all of my remaining time writing, I will have a retirement plan to support me.
I’ve never had a retirement plan before. I’m going to have to work every week of those next 25 years — I won’t have the freedom that came with the freelancing — but if I live long enough to retire, I’ll be protected. If I get sick next month, I’ll be protected. That’s a kind of freedom I never expected to have, and that’s worth working for.
But since I don’t get a full month’s pay this month, and I’ve still got those other bills to pay on top of the January rent which will soon be due (and I’d love to be able to get my son a Christmas present this year) please do consider taking one of my upcoming workshops.
Q. Anything else we should know?
A. I can’t be online as much as I used to, so my social media postings (Twitter, Facebook, etc) have already gone down. I’m not logging into my email every day, either. In exchange, I’ll find time to update my blog more often. I won’t be able to reveal any official secrets, but I’m sure you’ll be just as happy with the “unofficial” ones.