A New Chapter Begins

Since mid-March, I have watched as the freelance world has altered. It didn’t start then, but it’s when I paid attention to how many of my peers were struggling to find assignments. Media tie-in fiction seemed to be cut way back while publishers also cut down on mid-list authors. Fellow members of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers began reporting they were taking day jobs once more, seeking refuge and some security.

I have happily and even somewhat eagerly spent the first few months of my forced layoff to produce new pitches and do spec writing for the first time in ages. In some ways it was freeing and in some ways terrifying.

A few pitches were read and rejected and have since gone on to other points. Others continue to develop as I mentioned in the previous post.

Regardless, I need to earn a living, contributing something beyond my columns’ pay towards the household. This has led to make the career-altering switch to seeking my certification in Secondary Education. The end goal, around the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year would for me to be an English teacher.

I almost went this way once before. In spring 2002, after Bill Jemas foolishly fired me at Marvel, I had applied to Connecticut’s Alternate Route to Certification program and was actually accepted. I also spent some of that time as a substitute teacher in the middle and high schools here in Fairfield, including two days as Robbie’s social studies teacher, followed soon after by accompanying them on the eighth grade class trip.

In early May that year, I missed a call from the school on a Monday. Tuesday, before I could call them back, Georg Brewer called to hire me back at DC. After accepting Georg’s offer, I called the school to learn that the social studies teacher had to suddenly relocate to Florida with her husband and would I consider being the permanent sub for the remainder of the school year. This is one of this pivotal moments parallel worlds are based on. Had I spoken to the school first, I would have had a chance to teach for over a month and then enter the ARC program that summer. Instead, I went back into comics and publishing until I am at this point.

Apparently, for state certification, I need to present a well-rounded undergraduate transcript and I have been deemed deficient in math, science, and fine arts. Beginning today, to remedy this, I begin classes at nearby Housatonic Community College, taking Principles of Statistics and History of Theater. I am also applying to graduate schools to begin my studies for a Master’s Degree in the spring.

I will still have time to write and should any of the circulating proposals or stalled work actually receive a green light, I will still have the flexibility to write.

Last week, I attended orientation at HCC and several of the staff and faculty asked about my career change because they’re seeing it more and more people of my generation return.  And sure enough, I was not the only over-50 person at the session.

I haven’t been a serious student in over thirty years and math scares the beejeezus out of me. Still, statistics might make me a better fantasy baseball owner next year. I also recognize that with the country’s economy as precarious as it is, finding work as a teacher won’t be as easier as people anticipated only a few years back. I am still determined to go through with this and create more options for myself.

While I think I’d have plenty of fun with high school students, especially if I ever get to teach AP English (recreating my favorite high school course), Deb and Kate think I’d actually connect better with middle schoolers. I guess we’ll find out in the months and years ahead.

6 comments

  • Bob, I remember when you first considered doing this, and I wrote you a letter of recommendation, praising your abilities from my own experience as a teacher. Let me know if you need me to dig out the letter…and if you need help with statistics.

  • Jen in Oz

    Bob,
    Congratulations on what will be a life-changing decision, no matter which way it ends up.
    Twenty-something years ago, in the middle of my teaching-degree studies I moved across this wide brown land and discovered (nobody had told me until AFTER I arrived) that I wasn’t qualified to register as a teacher here in Sunny Melbourne (in Perth only a 3 year diploma was required, here in the east you needed a four year degree.)
    So I continued in a part-time course to finish my degree, and in the meantime took up a clerical office job. While it took me 10 years to finish my degree (during which time I married, and my college amalgamated with other colleges, becoming a full university) I found I was quite happy with clerical work and stuck with it.
    Now, the idea of walking into a classroom of year 9 boys scares me silly, and I have also discovered that because my degree is from an interstate university, it will cost an extra $200 to register with the Education Board.
    Frankly, I’m happy to stay where I am. I work part time in the office of my daughter’s school, and bring in enough income to cover the costs of her dance classes and my two hobbies of sewing and reading comics.
    However, it’s nice to know that I did qualify for my very own B.Ed and could presumably fall back on that should I ever lose my typing skills.
    Jen in Sunny Oz.

  • Best of luck with this, Bob.

  • Barb Goetz

    Congratulations Bob! Best wishes for the future.

  • Tom Galloway

    Good luck!

  • Jay

    If I had a teacher when I was in school that wrote for DC Comics, you would’ve instantly been my favorite teacher of all time.

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