Today’s subject is work.
No, let me be more specific. Today’s subject is, more accurately: Jobs.
I, like many people my age (29), started college about ten years ago thinking that I would do my four years of post-high-school education, get a solid undergraduate degree and then zip off to some job somewhere and coast comfortably to the end of my days. Whoops!
There are a few reasons for this mix-up in expectations. The main reason is that I decided very early on in life that I was going to be a writer (long before I knew anything about what the act of writing actually entailed… long before I could even write a proper sentence, in fact…). I held on to this crazy idea all the way through college and maddeningly, avoided anything even slightly reminiscent of a technical skill (including any and all writing courses!!) and only took classes that might help me know things. Yes, know things. Vague, right?
For me, college was all about collecting the knowledge I might use to understand the nature of life and the world. I assumed that this was naturally, obviously, the only reasonable course of action that a writer might take on the long and dedicated road to becoming a writer. If I was going to write about things, surely I would have to know as much as possible about all of them. All of them. So I happily signed up for classes like weather 101 (in case I got stuck in a parched desert in the middle of a nowhere and had to quickly calculate how long until the rains came), Sanskrit (in case I might suddenly need to make use of a language that hasn’t been spoken in over 2,000 years), and other odds and ends like palaeontology, classical architecture, and Celtic mythology. You know, useful stuff like that.
Eventually, when I was given a choice between choosing a major and being booted out of university, I settled in on studying humans and their societies, a subject otherwise known as anthropology, which we all know is just about the most practically useless college degree I could possibly have chosen out of all the hundreds of degrees that were, I now realize, lined up like gifts for me to choose from.
Ai! How my skin crawls at the stupidity of my mistake! I wish somebody had been able to turn me off of trying to learn the secrets of the world and funnelled me into the computer sciences instead. How comfortable I would now be, safely ensconced within the velvet folds of my king size luxury couch on the twentieth floor of some waterfront tower in an upscale neighbourhood filled with Maseratis and Rolls Royces (all belonging to my friends and co-workers, of course).
As it was, I graduated from my University with a handful of notebooks filled with random notes on soon-to-be-obsolete scientific studies and shuffled home to my parents’ house to ponder my next moves.
Ten years later, I am still pondering.
I have tried things here or there. Made a few smoothies, served a handful of french fries filed a few forms… But I never found anything I could settle into, never anything I could proudly call a career. And now here I am, still stuck with this stupid idea of being a writer (truly superglued to it, against all the odds!!!), in a tiny room in a random suburb of Melbourne laying flat on the floor with an ageing computer balanced on a lap desk and nothing between me and the underworld but a thin slab of cheap concrete hastily poured by a team of understimulated workers who, as soon as they finished laying the foundations for this house, moved four feet to the left to begin pouring them for the next one.
This has been my fate so far. Which brings me back to my intended subject: jobs.
About twenty minutes ago I did a couple (very brief) Internet searches for writing jobs. In Melbourne, just for fun. It was a very brief search. Very. How do people do it? How do they sift through all that stuff? How do freelancers (and others!) cobble together the focus and willpower to be able to sort through all of those mountains of information on a daily basis? How can a person possibly commit themselves to a lifetime of panicked and blustery exchanges with faceless strangers and have this be the bread and butter upon which they must depend? My brain will fall out before it can commit itself to that!
Aside from not really cherishing the idea of having to constantly keep up with a tidal wave of input, there’s something ancient and primordial in me that automatically assumes that if a person is so void of contacts that they have no choice but to put service requests on the Internet, they are also likely to be a villainous fraud logging in from a temporary office in the basement of an abandoned building in Hong Kong — a place spacious enough to accommodate them, an old mattress and all the dead bodies they have no doubt been accumulating over the course of their frequent and desperate online forays.
What in the world happened to handwriting and cork bulletin boards? So help me, God!
My conclusion: clearly, there is nothing in all of my varied and torturous educational experience that could have prepared me for the things I am about to experience. What else is there for a writer to do but do? What else can I do but pinch my nose and leap, if that’s what it takes to add my tiny voice to the fray? Look out, world. (-.-) <– sarcasm face