I dreamed of a career of college-level teaching and scholarly writing; however, my classics professor kindly put an end to this idyllic future by suggesting that, unless I felt I had a unique gift to give the world of academia, I should think twice before going after my PhD. At that time most PhD graduates were driving taxi cabs, teaching ESL or in rest homes, so I heeded his advice and joined the regular labour force after getting my MA.
My entry level job was as the editor of a national magazine. It was a trade periodical specializing in sporting goods, especially hockey and skiing. Serving a relatively small market of sporting goods retailers in Canada it could not afford to pay contributors, the upshot of which meant I ended up writing the whole thing from cover to cover month after month. I spent half a decade discussing the minute differences between certain models of jock straps and hockey sticks in mind-numbing detail, striving to be original and creative on a subjects which were hideously repetitive.
Before my cerebral synapses suffered a complete shut-down, I embarked under rather serendipitous circumstances on phase II of my anti-career path. I left Montreal and came up to the Arctic to teach secondary school subjects to adult Inuit. Although exhausting I found teaching much to my liking, but since all the materials we had at hand were culturally and academically irrelevant to students whose parents were born in igloos and tents, I started to write my own lessons and texts. This led to a relatively short career in curriculum development, wherein I wrote grammar exercise books and edited other texts regardless of whether I had any background in the subject matter.
One of these texts was an introduction to bookkeeping, and I had to learn the basics of double-entry accounting in order to make any sense of the material I was editing. At that time I was on a 9-month revolving contract, and during my down time I attempted to bring the books of several companies up-to-date, a virtually impossible task since many of the source documents were missing. Personally, I found bookkeeping to be a very satisfying alternative to writing and teaching: zero creativity, but a great sense of symmetry and conclusion, and, given the state of the organizations I was working for, a lot of detective work.
My efforts were noticed by my present employer, a regional government, which asked if I would be at all interested in business development. So for these past sixteen long years I have cranked out business plan after market study, blending writing acumen with with basic (and sometimes shaky) accounting skills.
To be honest, I am relatively proud of my business-writing skills: I try to be as concise, pointed, clear and well-argued as possible, and as a consequence my employer shoves other "important" writing jobs my way on a fairly regular basis. However, part of me yearns to try something more gutsy than straight expository prose, hence the start-up of this blog which I had hoped would be a sort of experimental notebook for creative efforts.
Here is my fundamental dilemma in this: how do I find the energy to write for myself after spending my days writing for others? Shouldn't my free moments be spent doing other things as remote from writing as possible?
The sad fact is that there is precious else to do up here other than surf, blog and drink. I am profoundly envious of you to whom blogging on a daily basis seems so effortless and fun: often I have absolutely nothing to say and writing, both at work and on this blog, are nothing short of a chore.
Popular wisdom has it that Inuit have over fifty words for snow. This is a myth: they ran out of new words after about three since there is little remarkable about this substance other than it is cold, white and, up here at least, useful. So perhaps it is my life which is in need of shake-up.
Maybe a career change would be just the catharsis to get me back on track and writing with more joy and enthusiasm. Any ideas?