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

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Serious question.

"It's basically impossible unless you're either interesting in boring things or outrageously lucky" is an acceptable answer, although one that's already occurred to me, obviously.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I wouldn't mind so much if all areas of human endeavour were like professional sports, in which success is very largely proportional to some kind of product of natural flair and effort put in. You're never going to be a famous (let alone rich) footballer if you're shit at football. Some guys might get more ancillary sponsorship work if they happen to charismatic, good-looking or whatever but someone who can't kick a ball and gets tired after five minutes of running around is never going to play for MUFC.

But what kills me is that we live in a world in which Katie Hopkins is a successful columnist, E. L. James is a successful novelist and Daniel Radcliffe is a successful actor. And Michael Gove is a cabinet MP!
 

mixed_biscuits

_________________________
Or start with something you know little about and, having learnt on the job, either then find it interesting or find discovering its uninterestingness interesting - "Who would have thought that captaining a team to its first Champions League triumph would have occasioned such ennui" - and leave to repeat the process.

The more ignorant you are of the particulars of your prospective role, the better; be prepared to convey supremely confident indifference at the interview stage.
 
Last edited:

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Start with what you're interested in and go from there.
Aaaargh! Come on man, is that meant to be helpful? My problem is I'm interested in far too many things. I'm a dilettante. Really, the way to be successful at most kinds of jobs is to be very good at one specific thing and not interested in other stuff, not very intelligent, even. Being interested in stuff just means you get bored quickly with the same thing over and over, which means being bored in about 99% of jobs.

And if you mean "interested in" in the sense of "enjoy doing" - well, I love the idea of making a living by writing short stories and/or knocking out tunes in Ableton, but honestly. It's 2016 and I'm 35 years old. It's not going to happen, is it?

Edit: if it achieves nothing else, at least this thread has awoken mixed_biscuits from his aeon-long slumber. Alright mate! How's things?
 
Last edited:

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Glad to hear it. I'm OK too, I guess, just a bit unthrilled about being out of work again and seeing all these fucking jobs ads that start with "Do you have a passion for .... ?!?!?!" like an excitable Labrador puppy that's trying to hump your leg, and thinking "No of course I fucking don't, you'd have to be a lunatic to be 'passionate' about any of that bollocks."
 

craner

Beast of Burden
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.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
MI6 are hiring. They've put ads in The Guardian.

I once answered an ad for MI5 from the back of The Times, and got through to Round 2 of 6. It's a good story that I often tell at parties. I was too thick to get past Round 2, thankfully. But Round 2 was absolutely fascinating.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I can suggest some depressing but interesting reading if you are interested? Lanier's "Who Owns the Future?" and "Deep Work" by Cal Newport. The former suggests we are all fucked so should design a system that insists on basic restitution from big companies for sharing our information (good luck with that), the latter identifying an exclusive skill that's in demand and working hard at it. Weirdly enough I read the first chapter of this on Google books the other day and he's banging the same drum which is weird, but interesting for an occult book. His solution is to become a chaos magician which maybe a career shift too far for you.

My partner said something interesting recently (not implying this has a one off - she says interesting stuff literally all the time, but this was germane to the topic in hand) - we are most of us, only 10 years or so into our careers. We have maybe another 20-30 years to go so now is the time to think about retraining and considering your options (this is part of my reasoning behind starting an MA this year).

Otherwise, start agitating for Basic Income?

Edit - the first chapter of that book is very good actually, well worth reading. Which is not something I would say about 99% of occult books.
 
Last edited:

Benny B

Active member
If everyone made a living doing what they are interested in, who would do all the boring shitty jobs?
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
craner;323140realistic or interesting career prospects outside of teaching or publishing.[/QUOTE said:
With the first of these career avenues rapidly being made more worse and worse.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
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:

craner

Beast of Burden
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.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
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.
 
Top