Saturday, September 16, 2017

A long way to the top

I've been pretty down the last few months (by which I mean, since 2017 began). Between toxic people in my life and the struggles of securing a job in the arts industry when you've just graduated, it's been a tough time. I've reached out for help, and kicked myself into gear to try to get out of the slump. Slowly, it's been working. I managed to remove some of the more toxic people from my day to day life and I started to find some validity in my job, even if it isn't in my preferred industry. But some bigger things needed to change, so I got thinking, and I've made some bigger decisions.

I chose to take a break from university. I withdrew from the one unit I was enrolled in a week before the census date so that it wouldn't affect my academic record. I can take this break for up to twelve months, but to be perfectly honest ... I have no intention of completing the Masters I am enrolled in. Although half of it was credited on account of my Honours degree, it was still going to take me two years to complete what was left at the pace I was going. Frankly, it seems to be a repeat of my undergrad, with perhaps a little extra detail and longer essays. In the long run, I don't think the stress or the student debt is worthwhile unless I'm taking away something more. After my twelve month intermission, I might do a course transfer into communications or marketing--IF I choose to continue study. Masters was never part of my plan, so I am not upset at the idea of dropping it altogether. It doesn't feel like quitting. It isn't. It just wasn't supposed to be from the start and maybe that's okay. I guess the only reason I didn't outright withdraw from the course was because I can still work on the student magazine as long as I keep my place in a course, even if I'm not enrolled in a unit.

I started teaching myself a little bit of design. I've never been able to get the hang of Adobe programs like Photoshop or InDesign, so I thought I'd try something a little more basic. I created a free account with Canva online and I've been experimenting with magazine designs using some of their pre-made templates and articles saved on my laptop from editing with WORDLY. Just for practice, of course, until I get the hang of it. One of my friends who is a bit of a designer herself gave me some really positive feedback on the attempt I showed her. We might start a little zine together, just for fun. I'm hoping that with a bit of practice using Canva, I'll be able to upgrade to InDesign and actually be able to include it as a skill on my resume; it's something a lot of the jobs I've been looking at want from their applicants.

I also intend to apply for an ABN (Australian Business Number) really soon, so that I can start freelance editing, and maybe freelance writing. I don't really know how that will go, considering how competitive and small the industry is in Australia. But hopefully, with a few testimonials and a domain name, I'll be able to get the idea off the ground. I know it's going to be an uphill battle, but I'd rather try and try and try than sit back and let myself be miserable at a call centre forever.

And of course, I need to start looking for a job in my field, at least until I can get freelancing to work for me (and I know there's no guarantee that will happen). Because, again, I have to try to make my dreams come true rather than sit back and let myself be miserable at a call centre forever.

Granted, the call centre isn't so bad when I put aside the fact that it's not the industry I did a degree to end up in, and I feel like I've gotten a really good grip on what I'm doing there recently. I've had a lot of good feedback from the members who call in, especially for cover reviews and hospital enquiries. Private health insurance is complicated, but I'm being told that I'm good at explaining how it all works and being thorough in the information I give. It still makes me feel pretty good when they take a moment to genuinely thank me at the end of a long call. It makes it worthwhile to endure all the people who call up just to yell at someone for no real reason ... I only wish the pay was a little more substantial.

How do you deal with the struggles of making it as a writer or editor? What decisions did you have to make to try and make things work? 


  1. First, nice to see you back, and I hope you'll be on the blogosphere more from here on in! It looks like you've had yourself a tough winter, full of soul-searching and difficult decisions. As difficult as it must have been to make those decisions, I imagine you're feeling a bit 'lighter' for having made them.

    The tricky thing about a call center job--or any job like that--is how it can be normalized. "Hey, it's a job, and I don't HATE it," you say. "I'll stick with it until I get the job I want to do." Next thing you know, as Pink Floyd said, "Ten years have got behind you." It's perfectly okay to decide that it's what you want to do, but if you don't want to be there, well, get out while you can. As you say, it's your dream, but you can make it happen.

    To (possibly) answer your closing questions, since I have a full time job, what I've had to do is sacrifice 'leisure time' for writing time. Less TV, less video games, less reading time, etc.

    I should wrap this up. I hope you're feeling good about yourself and good about your decisions, and that you'll keep us up to date on your journey!

    1. Not too long of a break this time, thankfully. But you are absolutely correct; the moment I decided I was going to make those decisions, especially dropping uni, it was like a weight was instantly lifted from my shoulders (sorry for the cliche).

      I need to make sure I don't become complacent in the attempt to escape the call centre so that I don't end up staying longer than I need to be. It gives me a little financial stability for the moment, but I need more than that. I need to do what I came here to do--edit and write!

      Hmm I think I'll have to sacrifice nap time and clean-freak time, because those are the things that seem to take up most of my time outside of work. I will find a way!

      Thanks for always stopping by Jeff, you're a blessing to the blogosphere. :)

    2. Aw, shucks. Thanks!

      Financial stability is good, especially if you're ultimate aim is to launch a business or try to make it as a freelancer. Taking the leap is a lot easier if you have something of a safety net (or parachute). Can't say I've necessarily followed this advice myself, so there's some experience--bittersweet--to back it up.

  2. A job you don't enjoy doing is tough, even if it's "okay." We spend a lot of hours of our life doing it, but you have to pay the bills, right? Just don't get trapped there forever. Keep your eyes open for other jobs that are more suited to your degree and interests. As Jeff referred, watch out for those "golden handcuffs."

    Good luck!

    1. Yeah, right now making sure I can pay the bills is the priority, but now that I'm pulling myself back together it's time to start looking for something better. Thanks for stopping by, Donna :)

  3. Replies
    1. Or, as a certain fish might say, just keep swimming.

  4. Freelancing is a tough gig. It sounds like you have a plan in mind and you're prepared to be persistent, though. You need that! Initially, it might need to be something you do around your full-time job until you build up more contacts and experience. Good luck!

    1. Yep, fully anticipating that it will be something that takes time and perseverance to get it off the ground. Thanks for visiting :)

  5. I can't think of anything more frustrating than to be paying money for a program that just seems to be a repeat of what you've already studied. Good luck!


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