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Thread: How can I make a living from doing something reasonably interesting?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    Wait, Mr Tea, from what I can gather you have advanced scientific (or mathematical or something) training. Are you saying there's nothing more interesting you could do with that than write short stories? I mean, it's different for us Humanities graduates, lumbered with useless degrees that offer no realistic or interesting career prospects outside of teaching or publishing.
    Well I've got a degree and an advanced degree (not a doctorate) in physics from a half-decent school so yeah, I'm better off than if I had a BA in Internet Studies from the Uni of Southeast Bedfordshire. Clearly I should count my blessings (and I don't mean that sarcastically). But the last three jobs I've had have been in engineering and it really doesn't enthuse me at all, I mean I like technology but I don't really give a toss about it. Pure science is out of the window since I fucked up my PhD and in any case, from what I can gather academia is becoming more stressful and less rewarding with every year that passes, at least in the UK, and I'm a complete klutz when it comes to programming so I can't do anything remotely interesting with software.

    Edit: plus the mental straightjacket of having been academically successful at school is revealed by your concentrating on choice of degree subject - choices us mid-thirties types made half a lifetime ago! - I mean, I'm not knocking you, it's hard for anyone who's been to university (and finished it, and got a degree they're not ashamed of) not to think in those terms, and I do it myself. Then I think about my brother, who's a hugely successful self-employed entrepreneur, who left education at 18 with a couple of A-levels and a GNVQ, or whatever. But then, he's extraordinarily skilled in a particular, and highly desirable, applied discipline. I'd fucking love to be self-employed but the fact I don't have an iota of entrepreneurial acumen kind of puts the kibosh on that.

    I love writing and thinking about science but then we're back to the problem of trying to make money from writing, which is all when and good you've got the right combination of chops, bankable choice of subject, drive to succeed and blind luck, but really, "Unemployed 35-year-old harbours laughable dream of 'making it' as a writer" is just all too plausible as an Onion/Daily Mash article. I mean, I've got this friend who does freelance journalism for a living. She's been published in 'proper' papers and magazines, knows plenty of impressive and influential people, co-authored a book about civil liberties under the Blair government before she was 30 and wrote a children's book a couple of years ago that was very well received, won awards I think. And she does shift work in her local to keep up with her mortgage.

    Sorry, I know I'm whingeing and things could be far worse, and also that - the small minority born into select socio-economic circles aside - no-one just gets handed a glittering career on a plate.
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 30-03-2016 at 09:10 PM.
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  2. #17

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    As you get closer to 40 that sort of optimistic thinking gets harder to stomach. When I turned 30 I panicked and basically went mad, attempted to become a teacher because I decided I needed a good pension. Then I was faced with the job, the dreadful English syllabus that I was expected to impart with enthusiasm, and realised that I had absolutely no interest in teaching children anything. It was an awful moment, in a classroom, struggling with a shit PowerPoint display I'd cobbled together the night before fuelled by desperate bottles of Shiraz, and finally thinking, "well if you're not interested in Shakespeare, kids, that's your problem." It was the wrong job for me.

    But I fluked into the right one 2 years later, after a lot of pain and sacrifice, and in the middle of a recession. It's not easy, though, so you can't afford to be airy about it. I would stick to science, Tea, make ballistic missiles in cool European cities and write short stories about that in your spare time. Do the Michael Lewis thing, two sets of books, your job and the creative material you can leach from it. It's more interesting to be a ballistic missile engineer or an investment banker who writes brilliantly in their spare time than being an unemployed and unpaid, failing writer.

  3. #18
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    Become a data scientist w/machine learning freelancer, work six months a year and write in the other six.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny B View Post
    If everyone made a living doing what they are interested in, who would do all the boring shitty jobs?
    ROBOTS!!!!!!
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  5. #20

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    OK, got your last post, but with a few adjustments, I stick by my advice. I empathise, obviously, I have been in a similar position. You have to adjust your expectations in your 30s. I've hated my 30s, they've been a painful wasteland, but it is still early enough to change while you are still relatively young. But you have to choose more carefully, because it seems to me (still) that by 40 the die is cast for the rest of your life.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    ROBOTS!!!!!!
    OK, so robots can't do everything that's boring/unpleasant/dangerous/emotionally draining (yet). But there could easily be enough money made available to make these jobs a lot more lucrative than they are, which would be something at least.
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  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    I would stick to science, Tea, make ballistic missiles in cool European cities and write short stories about that in your spare time. Do the Michael Lewis thing, two sets of books, your job and the creative material you can leach from it. It's more interesting to be a ballistic missile engineer or an investment banker who writes brilliantly in their spare time than being an unemployed and unpaid, failing writer.
    I dunno if you're being funny with the missiles thing, but not wanting to design missiles is why I'm unemployed at the moment.

    And yes, of course if you're going to do something that doesn't hugely interest you intellectually it's obviously better if it's well paid, because then you can at least go on decent holidays while you write the novel that (by rights) would make you the next David Foster Wallace if it were ever to be published. And face the prospect of old age with an attitude of something other than panic terror.
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  8. #23

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    If I sound glib, I don't mean to. I'm being as serious as I can be. I've seen a few 40-somethings quit good jobs to pursue their, for example, "passion for script-writing" - invariably they have then spent every night in the pub and every morning in the gym, with a fortnightly stop at the Job Centre to collect their JSA payments while lying about their non-existent Asda job application.

  9. #24

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    I feel a bit like your Dad, talking some sense into you.

  10. #25

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    If I was you, I would've designed missiles. And then written a Bellow-esque novel about the anxieties and sex life of an average ballistic missile engineer in a cool European city, an updated Scandinavian version of 'The Dean's December'.

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  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    If I was you, I would've designed missiles. And then written a Bellow-esque novel about the anxieties and sex life of an average ballistic missile engineer in a cool European city, an updated Scandinavian version of 'The Dean's December'.
    That's similar to the plot of Youth by Coetzee.

    "At 18 he might have been a poet. Now he is not a poet, not a writer, not an artist. He is a computer programmer, a 24year old computer programmer in a world where there are (yet) no 30 year old computer programmers. At 31 he is too old to be a programmer: one turns oneself into something else - some kind of businessman - or shoots oneself"
    Last edited by HMGovt; 30-03-2016 at 09:54 PM.

  13. #28

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    Conceptual irony that confirms the truth.

  14. #29
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    Gentlemen, lady, we've been here before. Get in on the ring hustle.

    http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?t=1630

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