For now, I take my cues from two guys I know (yes, they're guys, but I think their experience is relevant). In the 1980s, they founded a magazine and were the toast of the town. Since then, one has gone on to a succession of high-profile editing jobs and the other, dismissed from his one big-deal magazine job, has created a brand for himself. One, let's call him G., is on paper the more successful, in that he collects corporate paychecks and gets a lot of press. The other, K., whom I adore, has had what my late father would call a spotty career and others would call an entrepreneurial one: He has started and sold an Internet venture, written two novels and countless magazine columns, edited books, originated a popular radio show and traveled the world. He also gets a lot of press.
Which one do I more admire: the highly-paid miner in someone else's gold mine, or the guy who makes his own rules? Dear reader, I think you know me well enough to know the answer.
It's K., of course...and this is useful information for me to have.
So Sara Nelson would rather be the guy who's jumped around to a series of high-profile elite media jobs while remaining always, primarily a writer, rather than the guy who is now primarily a restaurateur who dabbles in anti-Bush pamphleteering. Shit, so would we! Unfortunately these days you have to be satisfied if you can reinvent yourself as a "gainfully employed person in any field," so being picky does not tend to pay off.