Saturday, October 20, 2007

Working at Home

(Note: this is an introspective article i wrote to try to further convince prospective clients that i could really write (or so i think). You see, most "writer wanted" postings require you to submit sample articles so i wrote this, because in the first place i have nothing yet on my portfolio. I also assured them that, "i am not my favorite topic... and i'm just writing about something i am currently so passionate about, and that is this unique experience of one's trying to become a writer, hence the introspective essay." Looking back, I think this essay helped me get the job.)

It’s been two years since my last real job. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m jobless, or something. I have my own business put up while I was still working. My wife, who was also working, helped me run this business. It was doing so well after some time, it even earned more than twice each of us were earning from our respective jobs. After a while, she decided to quit hers and went full time running our small business. As my career was also flourishing at that time, I just relegated myself to supporting roles like taking charge of R & D (research and development), as financial advisor, consultant, and trouble shooter of some sort. That was nine years ago. Now, the business has grown and my wife’s still running it. And me, I am officially out of work!

I am now trying to earn by writing.

It’s a cliché, but I’ll say it anyway: writing is a lonely business. I would even go further by saying that writing at home is even sadder for me: A small corner for my computer, and a phone. Just that. No company name, no business card, no signage, no frills, no glitter, no fanfare, nothing spectacular, and nothing specially noting about this job—at least from the point of view of a beginner like me.

I never liked reminiscing back on the life I had when I was still a working professional. It’s like looking at spilled milk…it makes one want to cry. But to give one a general idea: My work was no longer like work anymore. They’re mostly meetings with staff, meetings with special community based organizations, meetings with the Rotary club I’m in, meetings, meetings, and more meetings. And when you get to these meetings, you get to enjoy great food (sometimes free) from plush hotels and restaurants. When I get to the office, after my secretary hands me a cup of coffee, I read memos, write memos, read and sign documents, after which I proceed to read the morning papers. Of course I get stressful scenarios every now and then, but I just pass them on to the department heads under me. Sometimes I bully them, sometimes I sweet-talk them. Over-all, it was every executive’s boring daily routine. It is only now in retrospect that I can see its beautiful side: I was living like a prince. Talk about realizing something’s worth only after you lost it.

Now, I’m trying to earn by writing.

This writing career is a complete 360 degree turn from the razzle-dazzle of a corporate world. You’re no longer surrounded by fawning staff to make you feel like a king; you only have the house help who wonders why you’re not going to work like everybody else. No more complicated corporate mumbo-jumbo; just domestic chatter about the trash, leaking faucets and, sometimes, even laundry. You’re no longer concerned with quarterly reviews, performance assessments, and bottom lines; you only rant about how the daily menu isn’t giving the children a balanced diet. You don’t need to wear signature clothes and your Florsheims anymore, you have no important meetings with important people anymore. No more critical decisions to make, except when asked by the wife to help her decide whether to let your son sleep over at the in-laws for the night or not.

Before setting my sights to a writing career, I tried to focus my talents and efforts to helping my wife with our business (don’t forget, I put up that business!) It took some effort to change my working paradigm with a different set of employees with different culture, and with the wife as the boss (and now I have a boss!). As if that set-up was not enough to pummel my ego (or maybe because that set-up pummeled my ego), my working there just didn’t work out. I just stopped regularly going to our shop except when I’m really needed. I became a full-time retiree. But, at my age, not going to work or not having any job, makes me look and feel more like a jobless bum than a retiree. Unfortunately, I would secretly agree with whoever would call me a jobless bum, if ever anyone did. Talk about realizing something’s worth only after you lost it.

Actually, I wouldn’t say I lost it. I just turned my back from it. When I turned 40, two years ago, I retired to fulfill of a promise I made to myself: I won’t be doing the same thing I was doing for more than 20 years already. It could maybe be a case of a bloated ego that made me tell some people about this promise, too. After all, I have made my mark in the industry I worked for. I felt I’ve reached the top and to keep up the pace, there’s nowhere else to go but start with another career. The idea was very appealing: the adventure of having another life! The prospect of changing my lifestyle that has gone from bad to worse (I was in the broadcast industry—but this is another story). And change have I got! I turned into a middle-aged jobless bum.

This change has led me to writing. It is now almost a month and I just submitted my first gig. I got another work from the same outfit that needs a trip to the library (the source required is a book). I also just received a reply from another posting. I might get it too. I love what’s happening. But this is just the icing on the cake (–prelude to another story.)

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