Sometimes, decisions have to be made. Saying no to one thing means saying yes to something else. It is a hard decision when both are really good, plus there’s the sunk-cost fallacy to factor in. (Tuition dollars, time spent, etc.)
My dilemma was simple: get the Ph.D.? After all, for eight years as an adjunct professor, every job opening applied for failed to materialize (even with the terminal MFA). The tri-state is so competitive, that the “doctorate preferred” end of every listing sounds more like, “Master’s? Don’t bother” with every passing month. Clearly, my career path needs to be re-evaluated.
And at what cost do I want to be a full time professor? Leave everyone and everything? That cost might be too high. Visiting professorships are too uncertain, so that does not strike me as attractive, unless they’re fairly local. After all, staggering numbers of humanities Ph.D.’s can’t find full time work. Just search “quit lit” over at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s site. Not to mention this article, from an English professor, found after making my decision to say no to the Ph.D.: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Facing-My-Own-Extinction/241988
During a session with my writing coach this week, she asked some hard-hitting questions to help uncover priorities (she’s a former academic, so she gets the culture). Could I concurrently write fiction and papers? Would I want to give my novel second place, especially since the rough draft is so close to completion?
As a person who likes to-do lists and clearly laid out paths, it’s difficult to say no to the Ph.D. Perhaps that will be an option again in the future. But for now, saying no to that means saying yes to my fiction writing, which has been pushed back behind grad school and work concerns for the last two years.
Time to go off the beaten path. With that in mind, and with much thought, I applied to the SFWA Mentee program, well ahead of the July 31 deadline. If accepted, they pair you up with a professional author for six months, who can offer career advice and point you to resources to aid in the quest to turn pro. Hopefully I’m accepted, but if not, I’ll continue to learn, and attend seminars, conferences and workshops. Yes or no? Well, yes and no.