There’s always another way

2006/01/17 at 13:26

In a new blog post, John Scalzi recounts his move from print to online writing back in 1995. This is what John learned from the experience:

The most important thing the move taught me was simply this: There is always another way. What is required is the will to confront change from without and roll with it so it becomes change from within. My job came crashing down on me, and I had a choice of accepting it or finding another way. I found another way and and took it. My editors forced change on me; I turned it around and worked to make it a change on my terms. In this particular case I was fortunate that work I had been doing had prepared the way, so I could move quickly — but even had I started from zero, with work another way would have presented itself in time.

I learned a similar lesson back in 1992-3. As I was getting closer to completing my Ph.D. in German, I realized that I no longer had a passion for my academic work and that my personality and work style were not well suited to an academic environment. I also noted the glut of freshly minted humanities Ph.Ds relative to the academic job openings. So, I made a conscious decision to be open-minded about other career opportunities. Because of this decision, I jumped at a part-time opportunity to work as a computational linguist. One thing led to another, and here I am today.
Some of my grad school associates think that I couldn’t cut it in the academic world. Others think I sold out. There’s some truth in both of those judgements, but there’s also a certain amount of narrow-mindedness. But as I’ve aged, I’ve realized that my professional life is only a relatively small part of my identity. I’m very thankful to be able to provide for my family and to have a career that I find rewarding and intellectually stimulating in its own way.