Falling In Love: The Writer’s Life

Now, writing a novel has always been a dream of mine. In fact, it’s on my bucket list. I have a plan. And a very detailed character list. And a blow-by-blow plan of every twist and every element in the novel. There is nothing in the novel that isn’t in the plan, and I have begun, this summer to write the chapters. Y’know, the fundamental basis of the novel; the text. And I find it something that it is very hard to do part-time.

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I’m working at the moment, however when I’m not working, at three o’clock in the morning for instance, I find myself perusing the ten thousand words I’ve already written, scratching my head, and wondering how I can improve the novel, the characters, and the flow of the novel. It’s a job I’ve always dreamed of having. Writing, is the only job I can really imagine doing; and thus this very blog, which is almost a year old now, was born.

I can imagine myself, in five years or so, in a house which has an office stuffed full of books, a comfortable desk chair, and my laptop. I could contentedly work there, for ten hours or so a day, writing down all the stuff my rather expansive imagination comes up with. I would blog, at the same time, and perhaps write commissioned pieces, editorials, and do some editing work too. I could travel; laptops are rather portable, as are ideas. Travel produces ideas, and creates different perspectives. One of my biggest ambitions is to spend six months or so, travelling around South America, and writing about it. Combining two of my favourite pastimes, it would be one of the best years of my entire life.

But anyway, I’m working on the novel. It’s gonna be interesting, and has a historical aspect that I like, because I am intensely interested in both of the World Wars, and the impact it had on families and their dynamics. I hope it’ll be something I look back on in a few years, and call it my first good thing; my first successful venture into the world of publishing. I hope that comes true, and I can imagine spending all my free time writing, because that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to be, or do.

There are some problems, with the writer’s life though; the first is that you have no externally imposed structure, and so you have to be well-disciplined, and able to commit yourself to work, even when there are a variety of distractions around you. The second is writer’s block. I’ve had a few weeks recently, where there was nothing I could say. I couldn’t write anything worth a dime. But then I caught a cold, and spent a week at home, watching old episodes of Friends, and all of a sudden, I remembered why I wanted to be an author. And when my new laptop came, and I did the thing, you know, where you sort out all the old files on your computer,I found the drafts and plans I made for a novel, about a year ago. And with nothing else to do with my time, I decided to start writing it again.

And frankly, it’s been the best four days of the summer, so far. Despite the raging cold, and an ability to talk like Darth Vader.

(:

(1) http://cjwriter.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/fountain_pen.jpg?w=600

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On the Publishing Industry

As far as the publishing industry goes, I know very little about it. I know that I would like to be involved in it. And I know that it is incredibly difficult to get into the big publishing companies, purely because they’re just so competitive. The problem is less about your own aptitude for something, as opposed to finding a position that will allow you to pursue the career of your choice. Because in the corporate world, your dreams are just the same as another applicant, and you both want everything in the position.

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The problem is acquiring experience and having enough initiative to search for the highly competitive internships that do exist out there. I think being aware of them is part of the challenge, and then finding out where to go from there is naturally difficult, but not completely impossible. I personally felt better about the whole prospect of searching for a job after attending some employability events, and realising that networking as opposed to simply qualifications, is the way forwards.

However, a note on talent; I feel that everyone has one, and it just takes longer to come out in some people. It’s always there, and I do honestly believe, even though I am known for being a tad cynical, that everyone has something. It’s hard to compete with people who have a huge amount of talent, all the time, but I think that’s just a part of the world we inhabit today. Once upon a time, people found a career and worked in it until they retired, however today, we’ll all have a number of different careers, and we’ll be wanting to move on, and upwards in the world, until we retire. There’s more of a hunger to be rich and famous today than there ever was; we all want to be something, or someone, or at the very least, we want to be rich and famous.

I don’t really know how I will go about being somebody, however I think my business which has started well, and I hope it continues to go well, will help with this. It’s not always easy, phoning and emailing everyone you know to tell them about it, but eventually you have to be accepted somewhere; it’s a law of averages. Eventually, someone has to say “Yes!”. Eventually however, is not a specified time frame, and everyone I’ve spoken to says that perseverance is key. Networking is also key. Talking and communication is key. It’s almost comparable to the Deathly Hallows, really; the three ingredients to worldwide domination.

So there we are. I love the idea of belonging to this industry, no matter which bit of it. I’d like to be involved in PR, and maybe even consultancy, but it’s so difficult to really define what it is I’d like to do. Which is natural, and it’s why people of my generation tend to have a multitude of careers, and areas of expertise. The agony of choice; that’s what’s made our lives both more delightful, and more difficult, all at the same time.

(:

(1) http://www.consumercareinc.com/grey_business_group.jpg

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On Being Employable

Recently, I have been engaged in a number of ventures that have been in aid of making myself more employable. These ventures began on Thursday, with an employability course, in the form of seminars. The course was two days long and covered a number of ideas, including networking, and business strategy. The difficulties that current undergraduates currently face were not understated; in 2014, when I graduate, there will be five hundred thousand graduates. This number does not include part-time students and postgraduate students that will be academically far more qualified for the job.

The emphasis of the course then, was making yourself into somebody, and not relying particularly on companies that are already overstretched. It has never been more necessary to make your own luck, especially in terms of creating your own market, your own service, and acting on your own initiative. This prospect is terrifying, and is overwhelming to the average undergraduate; few of us have any real idea of what we’d like to be, and where we’d like to go in our career. However, I am one of the very lucky few who does know; I want to be in publishing, as both a writer and an editor, and I’d like to have skills at my disposal that are transferable, and useful to an employer.

This sudden realization of the practicalities of employability did, temporarily, knock me for six. However then I stood up (metaphorically) and decided that the only way forwards was really to create my own business. It is something that I’ve been considering doing for a long time, however I’d never put any serious thought into this before. But on Friday evening, I sat down and made a business plan, thought about marketing, communications, and fees. And then I launched myself as a sole trader, in freelance writing and editing, and offered my services.

This led to a feeling I’ve never had before; a feeling of being in control almost. I did become acutely aware on Saturday of the magnitude of the task. The freelance world is competitive and it is cut throat. Experience is vital; experience in the real world is particularly important. In the modern world, having a degree is only a tiny part of a candidate, because at the moment, there is little for an eighteen year old to do, but get a degree. And this goes back to the challenges of the job market, creating something of a rather vicious cycle. (1)

So, as of today, I have registered as a sole trader, I have a new business email account, and a new bank account. I have a website domain name, and what remains is to locate  clients, and market myself in places such as LinkedIn, on my blog, and within my university. I have emailed every newspaper in the London area, and I am hopeful for either work experience, or a chance to grow as a freelance writer, and practice what I know I can do. At the same time, I’m writing non-commissioned articles, and sending them out to newspapers, again in the hope that this will lead to something. Something, anything; it doesn’t really matter, as long as it provides experience and perhaps something to add to my CV.

The biggest set-up challenge I’m facing at the moment however, is website design. I am extremely competent in using basic software packages, however I don’t have nearly enough website building experience to create a professional looking one. I’ve enlisted my Dad, to help me. This is another epiphany; you need help, to succeed, and therefore you have to ask for it. The worst anyone can do is say no.

And there we are. It’s Sunday evening, I have a business. All that’s left is developing a client base and a website; but it feels amazing to know that this weekend, I might have begun something that will form the basis of my entire career. I feel like I am finally getting somewhere; it’s about being brave enough, I suppose, to dive in, and have a go. The worst thing that can happen is it fails; but then again, it might succeed.

(:

(1) http://pjvanoverschot.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/self-employment-advantages.gif (all credit to Andy Singer)

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On Investment

Lately, I’ve been repeating “it’s all about the dream” to myself in an effort to maintain a degree of motivation. I repeat it especially frequently at seven in the morning, and during lengthy cross trainer or hill walker sessions. I’ve even turned into a cliché, and written it onto my mirror. It’s true however; everything I’m doing at the moment, including designing a prototype magazine, training hard, working on my degree, has a foundation in the future. This is something of an oxymoron, however, it’s perfectly true; my world is finding it’s foundation in the future. It’s an investment in the world.

Investment seems to be something of a touchy subject in the wake of our current economic climate; people who had invested in property have temporarily lost a vast amount of potential capital, and people who had simply locked their savings into bank accounts have suffered some degree of loss, or at least an affected interest rate. The older generation are suffering on the pensions schemes, and the young people are suffering under the loan companies and the rising cost of education. And therefore one can only ask whether we can ever truly invest in the future. We can’t predict the long-term effects of economic downturn, or how long it might last, and how severe it might be. There are entire organisations dedicated to trying to establish patterns of economy, however financially, and in many other ways, the future is decidedly uncertain.

However, to not invest in property, education, etc, is far more dangerous than doing so; one can hope to skate by on good grace and charm, and unfortunately, I have friends who have quite literally skated through school and accidentally fallen into the laps of insurance companies, accountancy apprenticeships, etc. There are people in the world who are apparently automatically blessed; they just acquire opportunity with little to no effort. I think half of this is a situational advantage; some people end up lucky and simply fall into being in the right place, at exactly the right time.

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The rest of us however, are investing. Employability events. Optional lectures. Extra reading. Extra curricular projects. Getting up in the morning. It’s all part of the grand effort to become something in a climate that seems determined to force young people into unemployment. One of my pet peeves in the employment sector is when you are told “you haven’t enough experience”. The question of course being, “how on earth might I acquire this experience, if you are not willing to invest in me?”. I don’t think it’s really entirely about us, investing in ourselves. I think it’s also about employers, older people, and lecturers, investing the time in us to teach us, and to lend us the experience. Those who are willing are continually asking for opportunities ought to be rewarded, in a world of equals. There won’t ever be enough spaces to accommodate everyone, and that’s okay; we just need a fighting chance to gain some of the experience that we seem to lack.

So, today I’m hoping people will invest more in us; we’re willing to work hard and to learn, because we want to be you one day. We want to be the people to invest in the young people. It’s a cycle though; we need a leg up, so we can be just like you, when we grow up.

(:

(1) http://uffenorde.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/breakRules1920x1080.jpg

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