Saturday, 21 September 2019

Roller Coastering

It should be a verb, shouldn't it? It's been one of those weeks where I feel like I'm going to be sick from the ups and downs of my new work career.

Last Tuesday I had a Skype interview for an internship for a start-up social media company. It was for a position as a Content Writer, writing articles about travel and expat life, two things I am interested in. I was offered the post, but in the end turned it down because a) I wasn't happy working for 6 months for no pay, especially after I read a review of the company that suggested that they only took on a stream of unpaid interns rather than paid staff and b) I didn't enjoy the technology side enough to really want to use up time I could be getting other work churning out articles that used less of my writing skills and more of my ability to link to other sites. It may be a choice I regret, but I feel like I've been true to who I want to be.

A nice affirmation that I've maybe made the right decsion for me was that on the same day I turned down the offer an editor rejected some poems I had sent in for their online journal, but suggested, having seen my link to this page, that I might like to write a guest blog instead. Unpaid again, there's a blog post in the future about working for free, but it's a single article on a subject I'm more interested in and in a style that's more comfortable to me. Details to follow when the blog goes live.

I've also been working for my first editing client here in Finland. So hopefully things are going more in the direction I prefer. Small steps.

As a break from the less creative work, I've decided to take some of the extra poems I have rattling about and create another collection. My Scottish and Finnish books are still sitting at various publishers and could be for ages yet and I felt like I was missing out on good opportunities that were floating by. This collection moves beyond culture and place and looks more at the individual's attempts to come to define themselves as they come to terms with their struggles.

I find something really satisfying and almost meditative about putting together a collection, sorting through poems to find ones that fit my theme, figuring out an order, editing and then trying to write a synopsis to bring the whole idea together. I love carrying the rough draft manuscript around, editing each poem and shuffling through the pages. Holding close the warm knowledge that I made this, each word knitted together as a poem and then each poem layered to make a book. Hopefully they build upon each other to create a strong whole. The chance that it will get accepted is slim, but I enjoy the process in a different way to writing. 

It's good to have a break from the slog of reality with something you love. 

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Juggling it All

Where has this week gone? After the interest I'd received last week in my job hunting, I was offered two days of substitute teaching early this week and it offered insight to what working full-time will do to my writing life. 

No slow starts with tea at the kitchen table, using social media to ease myself awake before writing and editing through the morning. Instead, it was snatching handfuls of time for first drafts in the staff break room or at 9pm after I finally got all the kids to bed. It was ignoring writing on my first day off so I could take my son to the doctor, make a proper dinner for that evening, do the shopping and the laundry, catch up on admin and things for the kids. 

It wasn't until Thursday I actually had a morning to write. It made the writing I accomplished that day a tiny bit sweeter. I had worked hard, earned a small pay check, earned the time to commit to my calling. Amidst the exhaustion, there was a sense of accomplishment, I can work and single parent and write. Maybe not to the extent I would prefer on all sides, but it is possible, messy, tiring, but possible.

Fittingly, there's been a trend on Twitter at the moment, maybe it circles around regularly, but I'm a newbie remember, of writers posting about procrastination, how they are not writing. Is it guilt that makes these writers post this type of self-depreciating post, to shame themselves into writing? Or is it to gain commiseration or likes because we all get distracted by research rabbit holes or social twitterings sometimes? Both probably.

It's good to know we all have moments like this, but I want to use this week as a warning to myself that I won't always have time to do everything else but writing. I won't feel guilt or punish myself for putting other things first; kids, work, daily life-upkeep will have to be sorted first most days, but I need to make the use of the time I do have and write when I can. 

My house is a state, but I've managed to start four poems, two I like, this week, so I think I'm winning. 

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Changing Hats

This week has been more positive on the job-seeking front. I've had an interview with an international school for substitute work, I've had an offer to chat about teaching English to nursery school kids and I've been offered an interview for an intern role for writing social media travel articles. All interesting in their own ways, all leading in different directions and all not quite substantial enough to support my family.

I'm not quite sure which way to jump. I've turned down the nursery school English teacher job because it wouldn't allow me to take on substitute teaching work for several days a week for only three hours of confirmed work at the moment and the pay was rather miserable. I'll do the interview with the intern roll, but I'm very reluctant to spend too much time on it as it's unpaid, I have a feeling it won't lead me anywhere in the company and I'm worried it's just free labour without much in it for me.

I wrote an article to apply for the social media internship. It's basically what I've been doing for my other blog, giving advice about things to do in a kind of travel guide format. I enjoyed the writing to a deadline, buzzing as I typed into the wee hours, feeling like a proper journalist, but then learning the format the website required, creating links to other sites, finding stock photos and embedding maps was a right palaver and took up most of my time. I do most of that for my own blog, but it just seemed a lot of hassle when it's not for my benefit. I'm more suited to words than social, I think, but we'll see where this goes.

Back to poetry, I've gotten back into a routine of writing a rough draft of a poem daily in between job searches, attending interviews and writing the article. While I need to financially and want to mentally get back to the real working world, I know I will miss my mornings at the kitchen table scribbling in my notebook and then typing away on the laptop. I need a full-time writing job. Me and lots of other writers. 

I've seen lots of posts on Twitter where writers offer their editing services because they're despearate for work that they'll enjoy and will fit into a writer's life. I'm sure there are a bunch of other writers like myself who see these posts and think 'you and me both, mate'. I've gotten rejections from all the editing companies I've sent CVs to, of course.

So now, I'm waiting for that last minute, 'can you come in and teach today' text while I shuffle the kids off to school and trying to learn how to be a social media content writer, I think that's the term. And looking for other work opportunities. 

I've hit over 100 rejections from magazines and journals this week, the first time I've managed it. It shows in my acceptance rate as well, I've had double the amount of poems published and accepted so far this year, including my pamphlet collection which I'm pretty proud of. I've also written a lot more poems, so I have more to submit which helps. 

So I'm off to enjoy the last of my weekend, to try and write a poem and check out the job sites. The fun never ends.