Dirty Sticky Stalls / The Writer In Me

This post has two titles. Soon, you’ll understand why.

While doing some cleaning spring cleaning on my computer, I discovered some unused photographs that I took for a particular article several years back. Firstly though, I do not hold myself out to be a photographer. I have to admit, however, that I did learn a lot during my series with Caecar Chong on iconic buildings. But I seemed to have un-learnt everything I learnt during that time.

In any case, I took the photos for the article reluctantly. This is mainly because my camera was getting old (and I’m still using the same camera, believe it or not – did I already mention that I’m not a photographer?) and my heart honestly wasn’t in it. Not photography and not writing for this particular magazine. But please don’t misunderstand, the work with that magazine helped me a lot, and it certainly did boost up my CV. I would also happily work for that magazine again, provided there are certain changes since I last contributed.

Anyway, rather than go into the photos (which reveal how clean our stalls are), let’s talk about writing and publishing. This is something a lot of people seem to be asking me about. Their reasons for asking are varied, whether it be because they are fresh grads, wanting to move into the industry, or whether it be because they would love to get published themselves, or whether because their tired of their current jobs and want something new.

First, let me say that writing is a job. It’s a job like any other job, and any glamour or mystery surrounding the job is sadly untrue. You have bosses or clients, they are as nice or as demanding as bosses and clients in other industries, and you have to work hard, just as in any kind of work you might be doing.

Secondly, it doesn’t pay well. An uncle of mine keeps on encouraging me to do copy writing. Admittedly, that pays better, and I do do copy writing work now and again. Copy writing of itself can be quite fun, and I’ve had some fantastic clients too (esp the folk at the STB, who have been nothing but great during my time with them). This notwithstanding, for me, I need to be really interested in the client’s business or work if I do copy writing for the medium- or long-term. Short projects are fine though… But back to what I was saying, writing of itself does not pay well, unless you’re JK Rowling, so you need to have other kinds of work you can do, and from which you can derive income.

Thirdly, it’s something you can learn. A lot of people go, “Oh, but writing is so personal, I’m so scared to let people read,” in which case I’d believe that person is never going to get their work published. Also, there’s a learning curve, so be prepared for criticism and embarressment during the first year (unless you’re a straight-out reporter, in which case, the learning process should be faster). Being prepared for criticism is vital. I remember when my initial work was sliced and diced, and it felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest, and I went home with an empty feeling. And I think a lot of people, especially those with a passion for writing, will find this to be true. We feel all warm and fuzzy when people say nice things, but we get a little annoyed or hurt or indignant when something unkind is said about the writing. So be warned. Don’t cry like a baby (something I’ve witnessed with young writers and interns at my former employment), which is hardly ‘professional’.

Fourthly, it can be very rewarding. Now, this factor, just one word, ‘Rewarding’, surpasses the first three factors.

Fifthly, if you’re a writer, and you discover that you’re a writer, you won’t ever stop writing.

So, there you go. Discovering these photos was good. It reminded me of some part of ‘paying my dues’. Now, I don’t have to eat at dirty stalls so much anymore. Thank God!

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