I have always written a bit of copy as part of my marketing jobs but I never saw myself as a writer. I used to think of writers as eccentrics endowed with a genetic ability and immense creative power. They sat in somber rooms with a pen and a notepad with bent corners or a rusty Remington typewriter and popped out words for hours, inspired by some supernatural force. And in my mind the end result of their creative process would always be an original story in which the depth of their talent shined through.
Then one day I realised that writers are grown not born. I started to write about my observations of life and its many transitions and the things I don’t quite understand. I wasn’t confident in my ability as a writer and was only using the mighty pen to make sense of life in times of trouble and awe. But little by little I noticed my writing getting stronger and the words flowing more naturally.
You see, I was using writing as therapy. My thoughts often travel at the speed of light and they pass through my brain without giving me the chance to fully interpret and reflect on them. Sometimes I only notice that they touched me when it’s too late and I’m there covered with the cosmic dust of anxiety. In these moments the pen can be my best friend as it helps me watch as the stars collide and particles of reason evaporate from my awareness. With a notepad in hand many times I’ve been able to translate the sensorial explosion into emotions and rational thought and bring myself safely back to earth. I don’t think I was particularly good at writing but it became a habit, and like it is with any passion or hobby, I wanted to learn more and improve at it. So I decided to take my writing more seriously and joined a writers group (WPG – Write Publish, Grow).
When I joined the group I thought I’d only have the capacity to write about things that existed in the real world so non-fiction was a genre that made sense to me. I’m naturally drawn to facts, reason and reality as these elements save me from the tricks my mind plays on me. But being exposed to the group helped me appreciate other genres too and now I’m starting to explore life in short stories, combining fiction and reality in my narratives.
My journey with the mighty pen has been an amazing experience. Not in my weirdest dreams I contemplated the idea of writing a book, let alone a book in English, my second language, but here I am less than a year from joining WPG publishing an anthology with my fellow group members. The book will be available in November and it’s a testament that writers are a product of hard work, passion and practice. I feel confident my writing will continue to improve and I hope my stories will encourage others to have a go at sharing theirs. We are all storytellers capable to inspiring and challenging our fellow human beings and the more with write the more beautiful and impactful our stories become. All we have to do is write. Just keep writing.
It’s 6pm and we’re driving back to the city after a few days in the mountains. I watch the tired looking drivers going in the opposite direction, the corner of their mouths pointing down, their cars bumper to bumper in the rush hour traffic- I wish we had stayed in the country a bit longer. All the space, the fresh air, the orange sunset and the simple life… No rush to get anywhere.
Nature always does this to me. It makes me slow down and appreciate more what I have. It makes me have romantic dreams of moving to a cute little cottage in the mountains with views of the bush, a colourful garden and wallabies greeting us in the morning. But then I walk to the nearest village and all shops are closed on a Tuesday afternoon. There is no where to eat. We walk to a local park and my kids are attached by magpies. There is blood. I see overweight teenagers walking aimlessly around the streets with a cigarette in their hands. The country is no paradise.
As we got closer to home the traffic got heavier in all directions. It’s easy to think that just by moving to a different area we can make our lives better. But the problem I see is not so much the area, it’s the way we are living our lives, always too busy doing things without passion and for many people that includes even work.
As we waited in traffic I got thinking of the free-range humans that quit their corporate jobs and become self-employed. There is a growing number of people leaving the 9-5 working world, lured by a life of freedom and flexibility or simply by necessity as full-time permanent work becomes more scarce. Instead of jobs they have gigs. Sometimes when I get too busy with my life I feel like joining them too, with the hope that I’ll be working less hours per week.
But when I really look into it I feel this promise of freedom is no different from the romantic dream of a peaceful country life. How much freedom is there in a life without a steady stream of income, sick leave, super? How about fair pay? I’ve recently seen an advertisement for freelance writers offering to pay 3 cents per word. The pay situation with the raise of technology platforms that allow workers to easily find short-term gigs seems to be similar to many types of work. How can you have a decent income with such low rates?
You have to get several gigs at the same time to maintain a good life-style so you end up working more than you would in a 9-5 job. That defeats the purpose of leaving the corporate world in my view. I guess to become a free-range human you need to be prepared to live a life that lacks the comforts of the consumption economy.
By the time we parked the car in the garage, I was thinking that the key is always passion and purpose. If you enjoy your work your 9-5 job ins’t a drag. Or if you have other passions outside work, as long as you can find time to cultivate them, even the most mundane 9-5 job can enable your passions. I think the same principle applies if you are self-employed. If your life lacks passion you will continue to feel unfulfilled regardless of the type of work arrangements you have.