Day One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Full-time badass/writer

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“So I want the monogram to read M-A-X P-O-W…”

 

I am happy to announce that an actual real-life company has deemed me employable. Yeah! Not that any of you ever doubted that, right? (Right?)

So, I have a full-time job.

This is both awesome and scary.

It’s a big tick in the ‘Growing up and getting my shit together’ box, and a big step further into the adult world–which, let’s face it, still makes me feel like Will Ferrell in Elf.

I spent my first day as a technical writer being shown around the building, having stuff explained to me in a “we’re not trying to overwhelm you, but you probably need to know this” kind of way, and double-checking that they had hired the right person and I was not part of some switched-at-interview mix-up.

It’s not that I’m super surprised that someone would give me a job–I do have a degree now, and a not-useless set of skills–but a lot of writers only dream of being paid (in a full-time position) to just, well, write.

When I get a census form whenever the fuck those things come out (every five years, apparently, so I’ll be waiting until 2016), or am filling out any other form that asks for my occupation, I can actually put the word ‘writer’ in my job title. Not a vague ‘Administration’ or ‘Hospitality’ (because KFC totally counted) or ‘Sales’, but a studied-to-get-a-freaking-degree-in-this writer.

This is a serious win.

 

“I thought you studied journalism,” some of my more observant friends will point out.

This is true. I did study journalism. I also had a second major in Creative and Professional Writing.

“But didn’t you want to be a journalist?” the same friends will tactlessly push.

While it is true–though, admittedly, shocking–that a student of journalism would be considering a career as a journalist, asking the above is a bit like asking a science student, “But didn’t you want to be a scientist?” It’s kind of reductive to assume that the broad set of skills one obtains in each of those degrees would only be useful and desireable in one single job. (Besides, ‘scientist’ is about as vague as you can get. Some of those guys don’t even wear lab coats and swirl beakers. I know!)

I did consider getting a job as ‘a journalist’, and even applied for a few, but at the end of the day, my most basic desire is to work as a writer. I want to have a job where the skills that I paid a painful amount of money (that I don’t yet earn enough to pay back–writing jobs, eh?) to get are being used. If that job is as a journalist: great. I love journalistic writing; I’ll probably do it on the side anyway. If it turns out, as it has, that a job as a technical writer ticks those boxes, then I am happy to broaden my horizons beyond the expected, and get some new skills to boot. Someone actually wants to pay me to do what I love? Show me to my desk.

So, here’s to Monday to Friday, bussing to the city, budgeting with an actual income, challenges and new experiences, and the impending appearance of some kick-ass business cards.

 

TB

Technical Writer/Bad-Ass M.C.

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Day Seven: Stop chasing perfection

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On the seventh day, God rested. Apparently. If God is anything like me, he/she probably looked back on the work he/she’d just done, found 15 things wrong with it (proximity of waste expulsion zone to genital zone, anyone?), and spent the whole day tweaking and fretting.

When I was in grade two, we got a one-hour block each week to write stories. Everyone had a special story-writing exercise book to fill with various tales of fun, adventure, and woe (and Super Mario if most of the boys’ pieces were anything to go by). Each week, I’d wait patiently for the hour to come, take my book from my desk, carefully smooth the pages, and get stuck into writing. The other kids wrote short stories. Two pages was standard. Four was a more detailed yarn.

I wrote a novella (comparatively). About a dolphin… who shared a special bond with a human–SHUT UP! The content wasn’t exactly ground-breaking stuff, but I had a story in me and that story needed time to develop on the page. I’m sure the other kids forgot about story time as soon as the bell rang. They’d toss their pencils and book into the belly of their desks and run cheering into the playground. I’d squeeze a few more words in until the teacher urged me that it really was ‘pencils down’ and I could finish it next week.

Ha! Seven-year-old me would think. This baby’s got another ten chapters in her at least. Every week I’d inch closer to an ending, and every week there’d be a unique (and usually far-fetched) twist.

“The dolphin delivers me safely to shore and I pat its nose. I’ve had a great time at the beach and will never forget this day. OH, but what’s this? Now my little sister is drowning! The dolphin springs back into action…”

You know how this shit goes. The problem with my masterpiece is that I never finished it. I never signed off at the end, drew a couple of accompanying pictures and took it home to Mum.

I have a whole folder of these filed away. Stories that captured me while I was showering, or popped into my head while I was climbing a tree. The initial fever of writing was exhilarating. After a few hundred words the doubt would set in. I’d eagerly picked a horse based on a cursory glance, only to realise a few lengths in that it was actually a donkey with a bung leg. (Apologies for the horse analogy; Melbourne Cup is still on the brain.) My stories weren’t stayers, and they were never good enough to finish.

Until very recently, my stories also remained unread–which is stupid. Isn’t having a readership kind of the whole point of writing? Philosophers have pondered this for thousands of years (I imagine). If I write a 50,000 word manuscript and show it to nobody, does it even exist?

“Who’s your target audience?” tutors would ask me of story assignments.

You, me, and the inside of my handbag, I’d think.

If only they’d had Twitter when I was a kid. Short, sharp, and posted instantly.

Dolphin @ beach. Magical bond #bestdayever #ocean #dolphins4lyf

Give me the next topic!

 

One of the first blogging tips I read was that perfectionism (which I hope is a word) is the downfall of a good blog. Learning to accept that a post is good enough and clicking that ‘publish’ button is the only way to generate content. If it were up to seven-year-old me, this post would have been written over six months and been well over 20,000 words. Instead, I shall embrace the typos (and rush to fix them when I find them later–thank god for the ‘edit post’ function), get to the god-damn point more quickly, and post as much word-vomit as I can.

 

In other news, I’m thinking of starting a progressive story-writing blog. One hour per week of intermittent and implausible dolphin action. Follow that shit.

 

TB