To Work Or To Write

That is the question. According to many writers, it is difficult to do both.

“I walked eight to 12 miles each day, carrying a heavy satchel. I actually liked being drained that way, as if each piece of paper I put in a mailbox represented a small packet of my own energy. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t anything left for Second Book. I had the stamina to do the job and come home and recover from doing the job and then go do it some more the next day.”

Excerpt from I Published My Debut Novel to Critical Acclaim—and Then I Promptly Went Broke

And I can empathise with Merritt Tierce, the author of the above-mentioned article, all too well.  I couldn’t do it either, working and writing at the same time. When I started working on Guards Gone Wild! I was also working as a security guard at the same time and, just like Merritt, I had no energy left at the end of a work day for any kind of creative work.

I did not walk 8 to 12 miles each day, but I had to put in 12 hours each day as a security guard. And a full-time guard in Singapore has to put in 12 hours per day for 6 days a week. When I was pulling 72 hours per week, I couldn’t do much writing even on my off days. An off day was precious commodity because it allowed me to recover barely enough energy to face another 72-hour work week.

I suppose it would be a lie to say that I couldn’t write… I could. Facebook posts… Angry rants. Shopping lists. But nothing good enough to show a publisher. It wasn’t just my flesh. My mind was too tired to play around with words as well. Nothing worked for me. Not Red Bull. Not coffee. Nothing could jolt my creativity. I tried going without sleep but that only made things worse. I ended up with some really weird (and incomprehensible) chapters. Kinda like the Voynich manuscript. But without the illustrations.

And it soon became clear that if I wanted to write, I had to stop working long hours.

So I made a huge financial sacrifice. I started working during the weekends only. And finally I could write! I was poor but I could write! I guess that’s why artists starve. Because they couldn’t work full-time jobs if they wanted to produce quality creative works.

And I made steady progress until last year, when I was working on the last stretch of my book. In order to successfully complete my Guards Gone Wild!, I had to leave my weekend job even though it was taking up only 2 days out of 7 per week.

And finally, just before Christmas in 2015, I sent out my completed manuscript to 4 publishers based in Singapore.

Of course, as readers of my blog already know, I was rejected by all 4 publishers. But that’s another story.

Teck Y. Loh


About Security Guard

Level 99 Security Guard

Posted on October 17, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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