Reality Cheque

When I started my reinvention project, it was done with a delicious sense of freedom. The question was simple: if I could do anything in the world, what would it be? The exercises and coaching I did as part of Chrysalis followed the well-practiced rules of brainstorming: throw all ideas into the mix and don’t censor your thoughts with the how; just let the ideas flow – however crazy they may seem.

And when I decided at 40 that I would like to start again as a writer it felt like a fantasy – a completely ridiculous ‘if I won the lottery’ type fantasy. But I followed the rules and ignored the doubts running round my head in their heavy boots; I attacked the ‘don’t be so ridiculous’ thoughts with ‘why the hell not’ ones and I let the fantasy develop.

But of course, at some point, you do have to start thinking of the hows and making a plan of how you’re going to turn the dream into a reality. I started by doing guest posts on established blogs and I did some paid travel writing for a travel website (well, it just about counted as paid).

Then over the last couple of months I have looked more seriously into how to make a living out of writing, because at this stage, I don’t know what I don’t know. I researched how to go about getting paid writing gigs, searched writing job websites to understand more about what is out there and what the rates of pay are (shocking) and I have learned from the wisdom of other freelance writers. And whilst I knew I couldn’t waltz into top paid writing jobs (hi Grazia, about that weekly column…), and I knew that I would have to build up a CV, I wasn’t expecting to find the path to Grazia paved with so many extremely low paid jobs.

My love affair with writing is not in question. But love is only part of the picture; that love has to be accompanied with some level of status and money for it be a career that will give me the sense of kudos I am craving. What I am doing now via blogging is a wonderful apprenticeship, but it’s just the start. I have to continue to increase my portfolio outside of the blog, and see if I’m good enough to compete against other – invariably more experienced – writers. I had thought the next step was to apply for paid writing work, but after seeing the types of writing jobs I can realistically go for at this stage – and the appalling pay – I’ve had a rethink.

So like any good plan, it’s been tweaked along the way – I’ve decided I’m going to do more unpaid gigs and focus on writing for the right type of websites. I know I have to earn my stripes and I am competing with people who have a lot more experience than I do – someone my age may have 20 years writing experience. And it is competitive out there: a popular travel site opened its doors to guest posting last week, in the first week the site received 1000 submissions! (They are going to publish my article though, I think it’s in a queue with the other successful submissions.)

And hey, starting again was never going to be an easy option was it? It’s like me saying to you: your current life stops today and tomorrow you will decide on a new one. Exactly. A great conversation to have over a glass of wine, but not so easy to implement in the sober light of reality.

I am also looking at other options – I reviewed my CV the other day for the first time in eight years; it was incredibly strange to remind myself of all the skills and experience I have (and to remind myself I have an MBA). So I know there are lots of other roads to kudos I can take. And in reality this route may provide an easier way to earn decent money. And whilst it’s not just about money, I think salary is part of status. Although I only want to work three days a week, and good part-time jobs are hard to find, especially in the current climate. So there are plenty of challenges with this option too (not to mention explaining an eight year career break!)

But these are good challenges to be working through. I love my life and career is really the only area I need to sort; it’s the last piece of getting my life back. And of course, starting a new life after eight years is not going to happen over night. It needs time and thought – and possibly some luck. But I am not in a rush (was that me speaking? Jeez, I have learnt something!) I am enjoying my life just the way it is, I just know that the way it is at the moment isn’t enough forever. Feeling that I am achieving something has always been a big part of who I am, a part that needs feeding like my Green and Black’s addiction.

I feel excited about having options, excited about seeing what the universe throws my way. And there is no pressure on me to rush back into earning, after eight years we are more than used to living without my salary. I know how lucky this makes me – having the space to breathe, to dream, to learn, to grow, now that is a good place to be.

15 thoughts on “Reality Cheque

  1. Here’s my thought (I don’t make money from blogging so feel free to ignore).

    Think about the audience not the media that reaches them. If you can get an audience then people will pay you for access to them, or pay you to bring them. (All those wretched celebrity cookbooks are because the celebrity has a following that the publishers cash in on.)

    • Oh Evan, I would never ignore you! 🙂

      Yes, I have thought about trying to establish a more specific audience but I guess I am worried that my ‘thing’ is recovery from CFS, and I’m not sure how good that would be for me long term. Going to give it some more thought.

      I’ve always known blogging was just an apprenticeship for me, not a way to make money.

      I’m guessing you make your living from coaching?

      Thank you as ever for taking the time to comment. Hope all is good with you…x

    • Hi David

      Thank you for the advice. As I said to Evan, I’m concerned my most obvious route is to focus on CFS recovery, but I’m not sure this would be good for me. Lots to think about.

      Hope all is fantastic in your world.


  2. Lots of little eggs needed in your basket I think and perhaps some of them Green and Blacks, you have come such a long way, keep enjoying the moment and the universe will provide, you are exactly where you are supposed to be x

    • I love this comment Sarah, thank you.

      I can be guilty of always wanting to rush onto the next thing, it’s kinda nice to just breathe, knowing that if I keep putting myself out there in time opportunitues will present themselves.

      I hope all is just lovely with you…x

      • And it can be so frustrating when our brains are not going at the same pace as the universe! All is good with me thank you, like you I am also in a period of reinvention. I left my old life behind when ME knocked at my door but now have a new chapter and have just qualified as a Reiki Practitioner, the future looks bright once again x

  3. Hi Karen,
    I think freelance work is the perfect partner to illness recovery. IF you don’t be a really demanding own boss! (see me!). But the rigors of needing to 9-5 just don’t lend themselves to recovery from this illness anyway. We are lucky I guess to possess skill’s that others will pay us for, albeit limited amounts at times! However, I firmly believe that the job satisfaction element is a big mental boost also.
    I know very little about writing commercially, but I think you coming to it a bit later in life could bring a freshness and creativity some with more experience have lost? They may have got a bit stale by now and feeling the pressure?…..Just a thought.
    Hope it goes well……..I have confidence in you! Vote Karen! \O/ xx

    • You’re great Rog. And picturing you in a cheerleaders outfit, with your pompoms shouting ‘Go Karen’ is amusing me no end!

      Yes, definitely having flexibility over when I write has suited me over the last 12 months. And if I do take the going back into the corporate world option, I would definitely only do it part-time.

      I think *she whispers* I may actually be taking on board everything I’ve learnt!

      Hope you still doing well Rog…xx

  4. Hi Karen,

    I think you should follow your heart. You’re in a perfect position with finances not being a motivating factor for finding work. You’re free to explore and discover your true path. The CFS was an life experience you’ve overcome, but, it in no way defines who you are. You have so much to offer the world. Trust your spirit…you’ll never go wrong.

    • Hi Lovely Kamonda

      Your comment came through as I was working on ‘my story’ for you, which made me smile.

      Yes, I am in a very lucky position aren’t I. But you know, sometimes my heart does not speak clearly enough to me – I will keep listening!

      Thank you for the words of encouragement.


  5. Pingback: Dependence Daze | The Reinvention Tour

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