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.”
“Expenses aren’t covered.”
“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.”
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: Andrew Amistad
Trevor awoke with a lurch, first aware of the tubes in his mouth, nostrils, hands, and who knew where else. Then came the retching, his stomach discharging whatever the hell that brown goo was.
He held the bedside table and the mattress as he vomited, not really sure where he was, or if he’d have to clean up this mess later. Light was scarce in the room, signalling either the start or the end of the day.
What was this place? Did he have too much to drink again? That wouldn’t be a surprise. Yes, that’s gotta be it. A celebration. Bits and pieces of information followed his train of thought.
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.
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.
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: Priscilla Du Preez
It seems as if my life’s just about making one blunder after another.
Things have took a turn for the better compared to ten years ago, but the mistakes keep coming. I still have issues to work on, wounds to heal, and a life to improve, yet I often mess them up by doing the wrong things.
Looking back, I wish I’d studied harder, worked harder, and didn’t waste so much time just loafing around. Who knows what I might’ve become had I applied myself much earlier in life?