Life & Stuff

Why I went back to work, and quit again

I’ve been quiet a bit lately, sorry. It wasn’t intentional. I’ve been busy.

At the beginning of June, I decided I needed to go back to work. Purely financial reasons but nonetheless, made me feel like a bit of a failure.

I had poured my heart and soul into writing for six months and I had nothing to show for it, not even in an increase in freelance commissions, not in the form of a book draft.

Nothing.

Image source: Morgue File | Credit to: Ladyheart

So there’s no book then?

Not yet. I will never say never, but I did hit a road block in writing the draft of that book.

Those who are new to reading this blog, I took on a challenge to write the book I’ve always wanted to write. A story inspired by my grandmother’s life during the Chinese civil war, with the knowledge that she had a blood link to the last imperial family of China.

I took on this project with gusto, I wrote 20,000 words. I took it to a book convention and was encouraged by a literary consultant to keep going as he believed this story is marketable (in another words, it will be picked up by a publisher when complete).

Then, something unexpected crossed my mind.

While composing a chapter about the main character’s decision to rally against Communism, which involved a lot of emotion as she battles with the deteriorating relation with her own father, I realised I had no idea what I am doing.

I have grown up in a Western world. I have never formally studied Eastern history and society. All my academic learnings had been more towards Europe than Asia and I simply had no idea, how my protagonist, born and raised in such conflicted conditions would feel.

I had no idea how I was going to grow this character.

So, I’ve decided to put this particular story aside for now and have started planning another novel with a storyline much more familiar to me and the society I’ve grown up in.

So stay tuned.

A new book plan is coming, hopefully not as messy as this one! (This was book idea #1… I have a feeling there’s going to be plenty of mind changes from now.

So, have I been busy with the freelancing then?

Well, kind of, but not really.

It feels like I’ve had a lot of work being published lately, which is great but it’s not enough. The fact that half of the stories published during the last six month were submitted before I quit work to write full time just shows how slow this business can be.

Most of the time I don’t get paid until my stories are published, and unfortunately that can mean a wait of up to 12 months (or more sometimes).

Yes, I am still travelling a lot, and have had the opportunity to visit Switzerland and Austria during this time, where previously for me to go on a media trip would require me to negotiate annual leave with my employers. So, I did enjoy the ability to mind my own business writing full time!

I talked about the challenges of being a freelance writer on my six weeks reflection of being a full time freelancer. These challenges remain still, and I continued to soldier on. I believe I am doing much better now than I did five years ago, and I am certainly getting better quality commissions and am able to let go of the smaller jobs I used to be willing to do just to get an extra $50 in my account.

It does still come down to money. Those who knows me will know I don’t live extravagantly. I wear second hand clothes, shop in discount stores and look out for marked down groceries where I can (you should see me at the clearance bin in the local supermarket!)

But I need to pay rent, which takes up 1/2 of all our monthly living cost and I am simply not at the stage of my writing career to be able to meet these larger financial obligations.

So, I chose to go back to work.

No more feet up in fancy places – going back to work for a bit, but doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing!

But wait – you said you quit again? What’s going on?

Before I get into that, I’ll explain that I am a business analyst by trade. You don’t really need to know what it means, only that it pays at least double the amount as any writing role would pay me (on levels of experience).

When I was job hunting, I was in two minds about taking a staff editorial role with a publication, which will allow me to still write, but perhaps not about things I really love. But to be honest, it just doesn’t pay all that well, and if I am going back to an office, I might as well get paid right?

So, when times are tough with the balances in my bank account, business analysis is the profession I will always fall back on.

Then, I made another decision which I’ve now come to regret: to take a job that is less demanding so that I’ll have the time and energy after work to write.

What a mistake that was. Within the first two days at my new job, I had hated it. Not only did it offer no challenge for my skills set, I simply couldn’t stand the laid back way they deal with processes. Did you know being bored for 8 hours can be just as mentally draining as being busy?

In a nutshell, I am not cut for a cushy public sector(ish) job. I needed to be challenged!

So, I’ve quit after two weeks into the role (still have to serve out a 4 week notice) and have decided the next job I take I might as well go for something more challenging and more fun. If I am going to have to go back to the office, I might as well make it worthwhile.

And if I could write and work full time before, I can certainly do it again, until one day I am able to financially independent from my writing.

So, it’s back to negotiating time off for media trips then.

That’s my update!

Share your thoughts below!