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.

15 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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