But are you going to pay me?

writerfoolI have always been a reader. I recall sitting down with mum being taught to read at home. I remember being towards the top of the reading class at primary school. The most memorable part of primary school for me is that other children could be so unkind. Or scary. Or just plain strange. The microcosm of developing egos.

Since I could write I have expressed myself with written words. I have kept a journal since I was 10, encouraged by my mum. Mum, gently steering her children, recognising the unique soul inside each of them. Perhaps the only one who ever would. I recall writing a story in which a little girl, not unlike myself, was transported around the Kent countryside inside a bubble. The wonderful escapism only spoiled by the fact that I had no idea how to end a story like that so whacked “and then she woke up and it was all a dream” at the end, somehow knowing I’d cheated.

I studied at uni and ended up working in journalism for ten years. And outside the day job, I maintained blogs, wrote the odd piece of short fiction, essays, ranty opinion pieces and what have you. I had a feminist blog and then this one. I had a piece up at The Drum that still makes me cringe. I’ve written game reviews for Roller Derby AU, as well as player profiles and press releases for my own league. I even had a poem published at The Writers Bloc, which also makes me cringe. I will never be happy with my work. I have volumes upon volumes of journals. Banal childhood observations giving way to teenage self-obsession, university stresses and finally work. Work, work, work. The journal entries drop off at that point, because what is there to say, really, about the nine to five?

Soon, I will be without a paid job. I intend to go back to uni, finally learn a thing or two, put some structure behind this instinct that forces me to put pen to paper. (Yes, pen and paper. Remember those?) And meanwhile I’m looking around at freelance opportunities. I’m irrationally irritated by the contribution pages that don’t even mention money, like I can put fuel in my car with bylines. Pay my mortgage with “exposure”.

Regardless, I like the sense of a new future I have. I know I’m privileged to be able to take such a big risk. And I’m reveling in it. I feel I am completing one notebook of my life, getting ready to put it on the shelf, like that ritual when I finish a journal. In front of me is the new one, spine still uncracked, pages blank and ready to be filled. I have a work in progress manuscript to tear apart and rebuild. I have a new freedom in my mind that has it boiling over with ideas. I have hope. And while hope doesn’t pay my bills, it certainly does keep me alive.

About Rachel Watts

I am a writer from Perth, Western Australia. My speculative fiction novella Survival will be released in early 2018. View all posts by Rachel Watts

4 responses to “But are you going to pay me?

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