NON FICTION: Why I Won’t Just Work For Money Anymore

Man holding cash

Photo: Lucas Favre

“So I’ll need you to do a travel assignment for like a coupla weeks,” an ex-friend said.

“Well you came to the right guy.”

“I’ll need sixty articles total.”

“That’s, a lot.”

“You’ll need to write two articles a day, about five hundred words each…”

“I guess I can manage.”

“… while on the road, for like eight hours a day.”

“Okay…”

“Expenses aren’t covered.”

“Oh.”

“Food’s pretty cheap in Myanmar,” Jess said. “So what’s your price?”

I did a quick calculation and quoted the average market rate for 30,000 words.

“We can’t pay you that much.”

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NON FICTION: What I Think About God

God is love sign

Photo: Hassan Saleh

It’s six in the morning and I barely got a wink’s worth of sleep. Insomnia’s a close friend by now, but tonight, my ol’ chum was getting a little too close for comfort.

This is despite the many precautions I’ve laid out the night before—chamomile tea, no screens two hours before bedtime, a light stretch, a cold room.

Well all that’s out the window now, and to make things worse, I have a long day ahead of me, the very reason I’d made all that preparations in the first place.

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NON FICTION: Why Everyone (Especially Creatives) Should Embrace Imperfection

Coffee stain art

Photo: Sandhi Soemarto

I’m a fountain-pen enthusiast, and my ultimate pursuit in this hobby involves finding my grail pen. It’s the perfect one that just glides across the page, is ornamented in a way that makes my heart skip, and can take enough of a beating to last multiple lifetimes.

But alas, as any other hobbyist knows, a grail is just an illusion, a placeholder until they find their next one, because there’ll always be something better, or failing that, there’ll always be something wrong.

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NON FICTION: For When The Night Terrors Strike

Night Terrors Bed Silhouette - Ben Blennerhassett

Photo: Ben Blennerhassett

It’s 4 a.m. and I’m sweating bullets. I woke up ten minutes ago with the surety that I was going to die. I leap out of bed, run downstairs, almost pass out from the effort, then crash on the couch.

Am I having a heart attack? Is there an underlying disease here? Am I going to die?

I’d had similar episodes like this before, but not this bad. Those with hypoglycaemia would understand—the way strength drains out your body, the cold that creeps into your bones, your heart almost beating its way out your chest…

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NON FICTION: Thinking Of Being A Writer? Don’t.

Fountain pen dripping ink

Photo: Nicolas Thomas

Every once in a while I get people asking me if they could write for a living, and my answer’s always: “Why of course.”

Then they ask if they should make the switch from their current careers to writing, to which I’d say: “What. Why! Why would you do that to yourself?”

It’s not that I’m in any position to give out career advice. Eight years in various writing positions probably makes me an average minion at most, but since I’m like one of two writers in my entire circle of friends, the responsibility of pointing hopefuls in the right direction kinda falls on me.

And most times, that direction is away from the publishing industry.

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NON FICTION: To The Writer Who Changed My Life

Man staring up at skies

Photo: Matese Fields

A stranger changed my life. Someone whose identity I’ve forgotten. I don’t remember the byline, neither do I remember his face in the pictures, but he’d single-handedly set me on a path I didn’t know I would take.

I was a hairdresser, going through the motions every day just to pay the bills. On a particularly quiet day, while I was flipping through all the FHM magazines, I came across this story about an unfit writer’s journey to fighting an amateur boxing match.

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NON FICTION: Sometimes, All A Writer Needs Is A Little Bit Of Faith

Hands writing in notebook

Photo: Cathryn Lavery

“Maybe your writing sits better with westerners than with Asians,” Nick said, comparing between the lacklustre performance of my blog posts against the attention (read: more than five readers) for my Medium articles.

I nodded with reluctance, only half-agreeing. It’s not as if there wasn’t a thriving reading community in Malaysia, and there was also a good amount of westerners on WordPress.

But yet there was no denying it: I’d posted the exact same works on both platforms only to get much more traction on Medium. As much as I’d like to believe that hard work and talent trumps all, I’ll bet that more people will read this article on Medium than on my blog.

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