The Art of the Side-Hustle
Subtitled, Hey, Do You Want ML Brennan To Tutor You?
The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’
And how the hell this dirt-poor author —
Can pay her heating bill.
I mean, have you heard that OPEC is cutting supply —
Seriously, you oil-rich oligarchs,
My house is so ancient and poorly insulated —
That I actually mention it in my author bio.
Now, folks, can you tell which lines are Lewis Carroll’s and which ones I added? I know, seamless, right? Can you believe that while I took classes in fiction, non-fiction, and screenwriting, I avoided poetry like it was a case of chlamydia?
Like pretty much all mid-list writers (and, until I can finish my current work-in-progress and get into contract again, I think I actually am more accurately a between-list writer), I don’t just get to fill my days with writing – I also fill it with a full-time job. In my case, adjunct college professor, which in the past meant working at three colleges simultaneously, getting no health insurance, having no job security, paying for my own parking (and sometimes even my own photocopying, which was the worst), and a few other perks of the trade. And, weirdly enough, that actually turned out to be the boom times!
Financially, a few things have changed for me lately. Firstly, I’m of course working on building a new series, which means writing the first book – with that book, hopefully I’ll find a new agent, get into a new contract with a publisher, and (most importantly) produce a new book and world for readers to eye-guzzle! (very excited about that, by the way) (no spoilers, but I hope everyone loves the 1920s as much as I do – and OF COURSE you do!) But, while I was writing the GenV books, it was just me, the spouse, and our cats. Well, now it’s me, the spouse, our cats, and also…… our two kids. Which is frankly awesome, but it definitely slowed down the writing, and also means that I don’t teach day courses anymore. And the night courses that have been my bread and butter for a while…. well, there are fewer of those, because the state of Connecticut is giving less money to its community colleges, which in turn can offer fewer courses to their professors, which all comes down to me earning about ¼ of what I used to. Combine that with a sudden need to purchase things that I never used to, like diapers, and the time has come for me to embrace the side-hustle.
The search for a good side-hustle always makes you do some self-examination and ask that age-old question – do I possess any skills that I can monetize in a way that can help me get through my current situation? And, I’m not going to lie, people – I was a lot cuter in my twenties, so that eliminates the skin trade. What I do have, though, is ten years teaching basic composition, literature, and writing courses to college students, a year evaluating admissions essays for a snooty private liberal-arts college in Massachusetts, and four published books.
This has led me to the world of online tutoring. This is apparently a really cut-throat world, which is interesting to learn. This is actually the kind of job that I would totally have Fort hold down for a few months, hilariously. But I do think that this is something that I could do well, because I’ve been working with students for a decade at this point, and working with these kinds of tutoring services is one of those situations that actually appeal to me – I can do work from my own home, on my own schedule, and actually get paid for it, plus I’d actually be providing a useful service and helping people (as opposed to getting them involved in internet scams or other sleazy stuff), and the people who host the website do their thing and provide a good platform, plus a safe payment system.
Another thing that I like about doing this is that I know that I would do it in a way that would be safe for the people using it. A few years ago I was teaching a class, and a student handed in an obviously plagiarized essay – so obviously that I saw a problematic sentence at a glance, googled it, and found the source, all within ten minutes. But when I told her that she was failing because of plagiarism, it turned out that she’d been using an online tutoring service, and the tutor had rewritten her paper and inserted plagiarized material. Now, the student really shouldn’t have allowed anyone to rewrite her paper (that’s way over the line of assistance), but I think the real fault lies with the tutor who just did a lazy online search, stuffed in plagiarized material to make the student think that the paper had been “fixed,” and went on with their day. I now warn students specifically about this kind of thing, but unscrupulous tutors are a serious problem.
So, even as I continue to work on getting a new book finished, I’m also hanging out my specific shingle. I’ll be working with Chegg.com tutors, and here’s the link to my specific profile. If you would like some tutoring, or you know someone who could use it, please consider contacting me through the site. Here are some of the basic subjects I can tutor in:
- College admission essay writing
- Writing help (essay construction, content, etc.)
- Grammar checks & reviews
- Study skills
- Literature help
But, if you are (or happen to know) an aspiring writer, I’m also available to help with:
- Fiction writing (short stories, novellas, manuscripts – all stages)
- Mentoring (talking about your hobby, or offering guidance on the publication process)
You can contact me through the Chegg.com website (follow the link and definitely message me directly – otherwise any requests get thrown to a horde of ravenous tutors), and either schedule a live lesson, or arrange for a written lesson where I would review your document and give you notes and feedback.
Again, thanks for taking the time to read through this, and don’t worry, I’m definitely still working on the new book, but if you know someone who is looking for some tutoring, or a little extra help with their college admissions essays, or some feedback from a published author, please send them my way.
Thanks so much, and I hope that everyone has an amazing 2019.
One last time, that link is: https://www.chegg.com/tutors/online-tutors/Robyn-M-0833359/