Photo: Austin Distel
Freelance writing is the dream, isn’t it?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably fantasised about combining your wordsmithery with the nomad lifestyle. What an image that’d be, occasionally taking your eyes off the mountainous horizon of Costa Rica to reply to a work e-mail, one that’d celebrate your great work and promise your payment before the day’s end.
Photo: Shawn Ang
Okay, a couple of quick disclaimers—one, I don’t really want you to drink toilet water, and two, this title was kinda clickbaity, but hold on! Don’t click that ‘x’ just yet.
Are you interested in reading about self-improvement? Do you want to get ahead in life, but sometimes feel that the work involved is beneath you?
Would you like to explore this topic with me, and learn what the hell it has to do with toilet water? What’s that? You do? Well, then, I guess I shouldn’t waste your time. Let’s dive right in then, shall we?
Photo: Timothy Eberly
I had many unorthodox interests growing up—I wanted to be a magician, an X-Games rollerblader, a breakdancer, a pro gamer, an MMA fighter—and thanks to the invention of the internet, I was able to truly learn just how lacking my country was when it came to these new interests.
For instance, instead of mixed martial arts (MMA), I would train kickboxing, only because it was one of the few martial arts gyms in Malaysian that didn’t involve Silat, Karate, or Taekwondo.
Photo: Filip Mishevski
The only qualification I had when I first started writing for a living was an accounting diploma. That, and some six years of hairdressing experience.
So I was surprised to get a call from a local NGO about my mentorship application I had sent in just the day before. Apparently, someone like me—who’d blundered from one writing niche to another—did have something to offer the next generation.
Photo: Dane Deaner
I remember reading a travel magazine and browsing the list of editors and writers, wondering how I could secure such a sweet gig. I used to picture these writers as a team of handpicked talents, each so sure of their craft, writers who could fly to Myanmar and find themselves a story behind every temple.
I would later land one such job and learn that things weren’t so mystical behind the scenes. The writers had trouble coming up with story ideas, their work often met the chopping block, and the editorial team didn’t function as smoothly as I had thought it would.