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.
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: 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: Simon Rae
So for some reason I’d decided to give meditation a go. I’m usually not one for spirituality, or even sitting still for that matter, but there was scientific evidence backing the benefits of meditation, so I figured at least I’d come out of this with some sort of benefit.
A quick Google search resulted in a host of alleged superpowers to be gained from this practice, such as increased creativity and lowered anxiety. That was enough to swipe it off the land of woo-woo and into me signing up for whatever it entailed.
Photo: Nikko Macaspac
You wake up, you get ready, you join the morning commute. You work, you eat, you join the rest of the evening commute. You spend the remainder of the day tackling odds and ends, before it’s time for bed, after which life hits the replay button. Again, and again, and again.
There’s got to be something more to this.
So you want to be a writer in Malaysia
Yep. I’m as bored with listicles as you. Photo: Joshua Rawson-Harris
Great. Another top-ten things article. Here’s a stick. See that dead horse? Go ahead. Have a go.
Despite the cliché, there’s a reason for all this trite. If you’ve ever asked me what it takes to be a writer in Malaysia, what courses make the best gig magnets, or what laptops produce the best word diarrhoea, then this piece is for you.