To Work Or To Write
Posted by Security Guard
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.”
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