the lawyer writer

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Left Turn Titles

I've spent the last few weeks working on my new book proposal, which has a lot in common with this website. It's a book about trading in a safe, traditional job for an unconventional career. In it, I hope to answer some of the questions that people have thrown at me over the years--is it hard? how do you make money? was it scary? how do you become successful? is it worth it?

The book is tentatively called Left Turn Careers. I envisioned unconventional careers as being the "left turn" on the traditional career path, one that you were educated or trained for. But I'm not crazy about the title. It's not so much a career book as it is an insider's guide to the life and times of unconventional people--not just writers and artists, but entrepreneurs, freelancers, visionaries, you name it. The book has examples ranging from Martha Stewart (former stockbroker) to Angela Davis (professor turned activist) to Gray Davis (former governor) to Harry Houdini (magician, hoax revealer).

I think it's a particularly timely book, mostly because there don't seem to be any rules about careers anymore. I know so many law grads who can't find jobs--so much for law schoo as the "safe" alternative. Still others aren't willing to pay the price (i.e. no life) for working on Wall Street. And now, with the internet and increased specialization, you can literally carve out a brand-new career out of virtually anything. Kite-flying? Animal wrangling? Baby wrangling? You name it.

So if anyone has any ideas for titles, I'm all ears....

18 Comments:

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4:29 PM  
Anonymous b said...

If the uncoventional career turned out to be a good decision, wouldn't it be the RIGHT turn?

Your concept and title somehow make me think of that scene from the movie "Hunt for Red October" in which intelligence analyst Jack Ryan predicts that the Soviet sub will unexpectedly change course--a maneuver called a "crazy Ivan." (Perhaps a tad too politically incorrect . . . )

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an idea for a Left-Turn Career...

A lot of 20-somethings/recent college grads spend a couple of years in Peace Corps or backpacking around Europe or Asia... Many of those just never go home. Anyone who speaks English can pretty much guarantee a trip anywhere in the world, with a little resourcefulness. It's incredibly easy to find a job teaching English at a high school in Bangkok, an ashram in India, a monestary in Nepal, etc. I know many people who are making this their careers. The pay is rarely very good and the work can be spotty or sketchy but you frequently get airfare and room and board for free. After a year or two, move on to the next country.

There's you Left-Turn career. Not many famous people do it though...

A very entertaining book on an extreme version of this sort of thing is Off the Rails in Phnom Penh: Into the Dark Heart of Guns, Girls, and Ganja by Amit Gilboa.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess Paul Theroux might be a famous person who did something like what I just described although he was more of an itinerant intellectual than an itinerant TEFL teacher.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Nick Dowling said...

In my life and career, the most important thing was a willingness to take and pursue a passion or opportunity even if the financial or long term returns were not assured. I hope risk taking is an important theme of the book so that people realize that safe career tracks are often code for boring careers and lives.

Mediocre title suggestions:

"Take This Job and Love It"

"Help Unwanted"

"Magicians and the Wandering English Teacher"

Post critique: on law, you write "so much for law school as the "safe" alternative." Hasn't it been pretty obvious for decades that law school is NOT a safe alternative? This is not a new phenomenon. I just can't figure out why prospective law students keep making that mistake.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And on a lighter note than pure joke lawyer , check out the funniest trial transcript ever! If it's not serious enough of a topic, well, just pretend it's the Brit's version of joke lawyer !

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Blogger Frankthetrekker said...

Speaking of backpacking, anyone know what happened to Backpack Earth? I was getting ready to book my entire trip and the site is half down it looks way different. Anyone?

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