Photo: Isaac Smith
I remember the first time my ex-girlfriend took me to a proper hair salon. It wasn’t something I was ready to do when I was nineteen and broke, but she said she’d pay, so I went.
It was the first time I didn’t get a haircut alongside Old Master Q comics and Japanese hairstyle magazines. They even served tea and actually washed my hair, something I wasn’t used to, having grown up with Indian barbers or those dingy places where the aunts in flip-flops looked more like they belonged on the set of Kung Fu Hustle than at the salon.
Photo: Jeffrey F Lin
People like to throw around the phrase ‘keep showing up’ as if it’s the solution to everything. Want to finally finish that novel? Just keep showing up. Earn a gold medal in your sport? Keep showing up. Trying to perfect that hard guitar solo? Keep. Showing. Up.
The thing about this advice is that it’s pretty easy to categorise it as cliché, a hackneyed term that somewhat inspires but lacks in lustre thanks to its overuse. It’s one of those phrases that belong with ‘Fake it till you make it’ and ‘There are plenty of fish in the sea’.
The thing is though, is that while it sounds simple, it does hold a certain truth. Of course, you’ll always run the risk of not achieving the thing you set out for, but if it were that easy, you probably wouldn’t even want it.
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.
Photo: Simone Pellegrini
It takes 80,000 words to make a novel, about 10,000 words to be fluent in another language, and 52 kilometres of running to complete a marathon.
These are daunting figures in their own right, but perhaps less intimidating when viewed from this perspective: writing 250 words, learning one sentence, and running for 15 minutes each day.
Photo: Trent Szmolnik
I know, I know. Enough of ‘just write’ articles. If you’re a writer worth your salt, you’ve probably procrastinated more than five times the amount you actually work, so I’m sure you’ve come across your share of similar articles during these times of ‘creative rest’.
I’ll be upfront and say that this article is probably not for you—no wait don’t close the browser. What I meant to say was, I had a rough time piecing this story together and I almost sent this draft to the trash, but I’d recently made a decision to increase my writing output, and part of that commitment involves finishing my shit.
Photo: Jean Wimmerlin
There are times when life kicks you in the butt, and then there are times when it really gives you a shafting. You know, those times when you metaphorically feel like you’re getting drawn and quartered after you’ve had ten inches shaved off your height at the guillotine.
At these junctures in life, the problems will seem like they’ll never end, like the eternal crash of waves on the seashore. You’ll curse the heavens and call on anyone who’d listen to your plight. How could the world be so cruel? Can’t the gods see the injustice? Only once the initial anger passes will you see the truth: The universe doesn’t give a damn about you.
I’ve started putting down books more lately. I’ll give them one chapter of boredom before I cut my losses and move on to the next book. I used to be a completionist when it came to reading, but as I grow older, I realise how little time I have to read all the books I want, so I’m learning to be more meticulous with my reading time.
It’s not the books, it’s me. I’m aware that different authors have different styles, and not all of them are going to suit me. I’m fine with that. The literary world is entirely subjective, and the path to bestsellery often consists of just craft and luck—both unmeasurable.