About

Plan B Nation, def: Where we are, not nec­es­sar­ily where we planned to be.

Who am I? My name is Amy Gut­man. A card-carrying mem­ber of Plan B Nation, I’m a lawyer and writer with eclec­tic inter­ests and a resume to match.

In pre­vi­ous lives, I worked as a news­pa­per reporter, designed and co-founded the Mis­sis­sippi Teacher Corps, prac­ticed law in Man­hat­tan, wrote two sus­pense nov­els, and served as pri­mary speech­writer for Har­vard Law School Dean (now U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice) Elena Kagan.

In 2009, after my boss decamped for Wash­ing­ton, D.C., I found myself job hunt­ing at the peak of the the Great Reces­sion, along with mil­lions of other abruptly unem­ployed work­ers. Over the fol­low­ing months, I grew increas­ingly fas­ci­nated by how we all were coping–and fail­ing to cope–with our new and often chal­leng­ing lives. The result: This blog and a book-in-progress.

An hon­ors grad­u­ate of Har­vard Col­lege and Har­vard Law School, my writ­ing has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Tri­bune, Salon, and the Hufff­in­g­ton Post, among other pub­li­ca­tions. My two nov­els, Equiv­o­cal Death and The Anniver­sary were both pub­lished by Lit­tle, Brown.

I live in west­ern Mass­a­chu­setts and work every­where.

17 thoughts on “About

  1. Thanks so much, Amy. I will con­tinue the con­ver­sa­tion as I con­tinue on my jour­ney. And I’ll look for­ward to read­ing the next piece. This is impor­tant work you’re doing, draw­ing energy to fuel the growth and con­tri­bu­tions of a (not)lost generation.that shouldn’t be.

  2. Thanks so much for artic­u­lat­ing some of the dif­fi­cul­ties I share with you, about Lean­ing In. As a self-confessed Good Girl of Encore age, and mak­ing a tran­si­tion away from every­one else’s pre­scrip­tions, I also feel Sheryl Sandberg’s mes­sage is beside the point. Fur­ther, as I move more into the non­profit sec­tor, where I intend to con­tinue my work­ing life, I agree that the advice to sim­ply “lean in” will cer­tainly be sub­ject to con­ve­nient and delib­er­ate rein­ter­pre­ta­tion, and in more and newer con­texts will not serve the short or long term needs of women whose strug­gles never see the inside of a boardroom.

    • And thank you for reflect­ing back what I was try­ing to say! It’s so reas­sur­ing to know that the piece com­mu­ni­cated what I intended. I actu­ally love the metaphor of lean­ing in — and find myself using it a lot these days. But in doing this, I’m def­i­nitely mak­ing it my own, and in ways I don’t think I would have been able to do when I was younger and far more sub­ject to using tracts like this as pre­de­ter­mined guide­lines against which to mea­sure my suc­cess. Any­way, I’m work­ing on another related piece and prob­a­bly have a few more in me before I let the topic go. I’m grate­ful for the conversation–I think it’s an impor­tant one.

  3. Hi Amy,
    I really like your writ­ing! I’m think­ing of start­ing a blog myself because, well, I don’t have any­thing bet­ter to do (unless you count dust­ing). I used to write pro­fes­sion­ally, then I had kids, then I free­lanced, then I tutored, and now I’m a recently cer­ti­fied sub­sti­tute Eng­lish teacher who just wants to land some­where. At 55, hav­ing come of age with Led Zep­plin, I don’t feel old until I read the job post­ings that use words like “dynamic” and “fast-paced” and “excit­ing oppor­tu­nity.” I’m exhausted before I even begin fill­ing out the 6-page online appli­ca­tion, rewrit­ing my cover let­ter, and tweak­ing my resume. Any­way, as busy as you are, I hope you’ll keep the blog going. I look for­ward to reading!

  4. Hi Amy– I’m excited to begin receiv­ing your posts. At 52, I’m div­ing into my Plan B life after more than 20 (mostly unful­fill­ing) years in mar­ket­ing. I just read — and shared with my 53 year old Plan B brother — your arti­cle, The Audic­ity of Hope­less­ness which inspired me. My new mantra: Remain flex­i­ble, resilient and cre­ative. This has not been an easy jour­ney, but I’m con­fi­dent that it ulti­mately will be a reward­ing one.

    • Yay! So glad to have you here. I hope you con­tinue to find the blog help­ful — and please do keep shar­ing your thoughts. You’re exactly who I’m writ­ing for : )

  5. Hi Amy, I saw you posted on one of Sarah Goshman’s posts and fol­lowed you here. My hus­band and I are hap­pily on Plan B as Plan A hon­estly sucked! I am so excited to read more of your posts!

  6. I feel like I am on plan D by now. I made a career change seven years ago due to my com­pany clos­ing my office to con­sol­i­date out west. With one child liv­ing in DC, another in school there and another a ris­ing senior, mov­ing was really out of the ques­tion. Took the sev­er­ance, my newly minted BA and the classes I needed to receive a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to teach high school Social Stud­ies. Plan B!! I have spent most of the last seven years more unem­ployed than employed. Plan C From bud­get cuts, sub­sti­tut­ing (the other poster was right, no one thinks it is a real job) and crappy part time work, I have given up on the dream job for any job. But lo and behold, answer­ing an ad that came in a flyer, no less, on my way to another career, Real Estate. Plan D. Start classes next week to get my license and already have a bro­ker to hang it with. He is awe­some and already tak­ing me on calls and train­ing me on the things you don’t learn in class.
    Couldn’t have made it with­out the sup­port of my hus­band and now, maybe, I can get us back to some kind of rea­son­able sol­vency and not liv­ing pay­check to paycheck.

    • Best of luck to you! So glad to hear that things seem to be mov­ing in a promis­ing direc­tion. And I know what you mean about oppor­tu­ni­ties com­ing from unex­pected sources. One of my best free­lance gigs came from a for­mer neigh­bor I bumped into at the movies. Thanks so much for writ­ing, and I hope you’ll stay in touch.
      amy gut­man recently posted…Job? Check.My Profile

  7. My Plan B is still hid­den from me. I am scared and going down­hill quickly. Also a for­mer attor­ney, peo­ple seem to hold that against me. I am glad I found this site, will look at some of the books, see a coun­selor fairly reg­u­larly, but am still suf­fer­ing from long-term exas­per­a­tion, depres­sion, and feel­ings of worth­less­ness. I was not a big time attor­ney, I was just small time, mediocre. My resume is look­ing shod­dier as the months / years pass. I now sub­sti­tute teach which peo­ple think of as not a real job, I think. It is stress­ful though. Any­way, I just wanted to check in. May need con­sult­ing ser­vices soon…

    • I empathize! I hope you real­ize that you are not to blame in any way for how you are feel­ing — you are doing the best you can under very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. That is truly brave and admirable. I hope this blog leaves you feel­ing a lit­tle less despon­dent and offers some addi­tional ideas or resources. There are mil­lions of us here in Plan B Nation — you are not alone.
      amy gut­man recently posted…5 great guide­books for Plan B NationMy Profile

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