Photo: Alvaro Serrano
Think about getting off your chair right now and doing thirty minutes’ worth of bodyweight exercises. Think about writing a book. Think about picking the salad instead of that pizza you were craving.
Chances are, you probably have a long list of things you’d rather do, and why shouldn’t you? None of those ideas seem like fun, even if they’re already part of your routine.
Yet these are the types of tasks we wish we could do to replace our Netflix binges and nights out drinking. They’re just boring as hell to get started on.
So let me offer you a way out.
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: Nadim Merrikh
“I don’t want a promotion, I just want to write. But I could still use the raise,” I said.
“Hm, not quite what I expected, but I’d be glad to do that,” said Margaret. She moved her hands from a steeple under her chin to put them palm-down on the table. “I guess that settles it. Thanks for coming in!”
“You know what?” I said. “Actually, I think I’d rather not work. But if you could just mail my cheque every month, that’ll be great.”
“Hm. Now that’s something I’ll have to look into.”
I leaned forward, my own hands gripping the edge of her desk. I tried to calm my pacing heart. Was this it? “Are you telling me you won’t do it?”
Photo: Nik Shuliahin
“You’re fine,” she said.
“Yeah. You did some work this week right? So I’d say you’re not clinical.” She put her clipboard away, the one that she’d scribbled intently on as I spoke. I wondered if she missed out the part when I said I only wrote two sentences this week.
What about Anthony Bourdain? I thought. He worked his ass off. So did Hemingway. Since when did work have to do with feelings? Then I felt guilty for even having the thought to compare myself to the greats.
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: 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.