Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
RSS feed

Ten reasons why it's better to be a docent than a writer

May 17, 2010

Tags: freelance, docent

Kathryn Lance writes: After 35 years of freelance writing, in which I produced hundreds of articles and more than fifty books, I have hung up my keyboard in favor of work as a volunteer docent at a local nature park. Now that I am "KL, Tohono Chul Docent," rather than "Kathryn Lance, Writer," I find my new identity offers many advantages over the old one. Mistakes or even failure in leading a nature tour do not mean I might lose my house or my health insurance, as failures in the writing biz could have meant. There are other benefits as well:

1. Nobody ever asks a docent where she get her ideas.

2. Nobody ever tells a docent, "I've got a great idea for a tour. You lead it and we'll split the profits."

3. Nobody ever asks a docent to re-do a tour, only with a slightly different focus and with three extra in-depth interviews.

4. A docent gets to work outdoors amidst the beauty of nature, rather than in a cluttered office amidst piles of research materials.

5. A docent is never asked to send in three sample tours on spec.

6. If a tour is canceled, a docent doesn't lose income.

7. A docent isn't given take-it-or-leave-it contracts after a tour is begun or nearly finished, requiring her to agree to indemnify large corporations for any frivolous lawsuit that someone may file as a result of the tour.

8. A docent is never told that even though she's not being paid, her work is great exposure.

9. When a docent does a good job leading a tour, the people on the tour thank her immediately.

10. A docent is treated with respect by the people she works with. Others don't assume they could lead tours too, if they only had the time.

Published here by arrangement with Kathryn Lance, who owns the copyright.