No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you.
Yes, I can hardly believe it myself too!
Seems reckless, even irresponsible. Right?
And writing. Really? That much money spent for something that I ought to have learnt back in school all those years ago? And isn’t my current part-time teaching job supposed to be about me training students to write well?
Good grief. The ‘math’ sure ain’t addin’ up here!
How did it come to this?
All the wrong moves
Since young, I’d always done well in English and Literature. Unfortunately, I wasn’t raised in a family or society that put much value in either subjects, especially for a boy.
It was the ’70s and ’80s after all. Not that things are all THAT different these days, are they?
So for pragmatic reasons, I spent most years studying first science, then business courses in college. Neither of which I excelled in, or enjoyed.
But I never stopped loving reading and writing. It just got buried along the way while I tried to fulfil THE social narrative. You know, the one that says men should do the ‘hard’ stuff like science, engineering and business; women, the ‘soft’ stuff like arts, language and literature.
Even when the results of my Cambridge Ordinary Level Exams showed that I was clearly more suited for language and literature-related subjects, I continued caving in to familial and societal pressures. I picked subject choices for the Cambridge Advanced Level Exams that revolved around — you guessed it — science and business.
And again — you guessed it — I sucked at them!
But hey, I wasn’t even 20 years old then, so don’t judge my decisions too harshly ok?
Sad though that it took (oh you do the math) 16 years of schooling, and another seven years of working right out of college, in all the wrong places, before the truth sank in.
The truth that I had “invested” not in myself, but in the demands family and society placed upon me to fulfil.
And that “investment” bombed!
What’s worse, even after those 16 and seven “wasted” years (you still doin’ the math?), I continued to make foolish mistakes in deciding what career to pursue. Until I had to finally throw in the towel, admit my shortcomings and leave full-time work two years ago.
Talk about painful lessons.
“Write” from the start, you had my soul and heart
But all those wasted years did help strip away the ‘weigh-me-down’ sackcloths I’d been ‘wearing’. Those dead weight courses and careers that led me to finally discover the one thing that brings me the greatest pleasure and delight my whole life.
I don’t mean drawing or painting or sculpting. Or designing or building or cooking or baking. Or composing or singing or acting or dancing or playing a musical instrument (though I’ve dabbled in a few of these — sorry, not gonna say which!).
By creating, I mean writing.
Among all art forms, writing’s probably one of the loneliest (in terms of its journey) and longest (in terms of awaiting success or any monetised outcome). Which explains why throughout history, many famous writers were manic depressive, suicidal and dead-skunk broke! (Think Hemingway, Twain, Dickinson and Rowling among others)
Still, the allure for me to write has always been irresistible; more so in these last couple of years with time on my hands to indulge in it.
And invest in it.
Yes. The key is to invest in me.
Finally. Just me.
I know I know, that sounds pretty selfish, self-centred and self-absorbed. But like I’ve been sharing so far, I’ve always ‘invested’ in stuff others said I should. When I was a kid, school and studies. When older, “economically-safe” jobs, skills and careers.
To a large extent, I do understand why. It’s what kept me alive and put food on my table so far.
“But I don’t want to anymore, okay?”
However, in these last two years, I decided I would throw caution to the wind. I would throw myself actively into the world of writing in the biggest way ever for me.
And the math suddenly started to add up. How?
Well, I paid:
– over $700 for online courses to teach me how to write a well-structured book.
– more than half of that for courses to teach me to blog.
– various small sums here and there to buy different print and electronic books on the craft of writing.
Along the way I also curated from social media, podcasts and email newsletters, lots of useful free tips and advice on how to write well.
All of that over the span of these last two years. All adding up to the tune of over $2,000!
Big investment? Huge risks? Maybe.
Yet for the first time in a long time, I felt free, and so much more fulfilled. More than all those “science and business” certificates, diplomas and degrees I collected because people told me those were “where the money is”. Where the future of jobs lay.
To these folks I now bravely say: PHOOEY!! I’m not gonna invest in what you tell me to no more, thank you very much.
I’m finally gonna “invest” in who I’ve always been; who I really am; who I’m meant to be.
I’m going to “recover” my long-lost self.
A creative. A thinker. A writer.
What about you?
Who are you?
Are you “invested in you”?