A few weeks ago, a couple from Scotland won the biggest ever UK Euromillions draw. But will their newly found riches make them happy?
I shouldn’t have thought so. For starters, if you win £161m you better keep quiet about it. Unless you want hordes of hangers-on camping outside your house, begging for money, harassing you wherever you go.
On a personal note, I’ll soon find out if money does indeed make you happy. I’m about to sell my house in Italy, which should find me with cash in my account of a 5-figure-sum. Nice. I’ll sure report here how happy it’ll make me (though I’m already pretty happy. How happy can you actually get before your head explodes?).
A second, very real possibility to generating income while writing is to become a freelancer. I’ve dabbled in freelancing and working on multiple projects for different companies, and have good experience of organising my own time from doing my PhD.
The more practical question is: what areas would I want to freelance in? Here are a few ideas.
Tourist Guide in Scotland: The next round of application to become a ‘Blue Badge’ guide (= accredited qualification to become a tourist guide) is on just now, with the 2-year-course starting in spring 2010. I know people who guide and the job is well paid – plus, you get to travel all over Scotland, with meals and accommodation paid for! The only snag is that the course is very expensive (over £5,000) and labour-intensive (I would have to sacrifice most of my week-ends)
elancing: The site (google ‘elance’ – I no longer provide links from my blog hehe) unites people offering online freelance work with those seeking it. It’s a bit of a hassle, since most are short-term projects and you have to submit proposals, likely competing against many others wanting the same job. On the positive side, I do have qualifications to shout about, and a very good track record working online from home in various different jobs – so at least I should be in with a half decent chance
Female driving instructor: The thought crossed my mind that another way of picking up regular money (and more reliable than elancing) would be to qualify as a female driving instructor. There might well be demand for it – women who want to be taught by another woman, or men who are more comfortable with a ‘soft, friendly, feminine approach’ to teaching (which they won’t get from me – I’m a hard bitch hehehe).
I’d see my potential income coming from a variety of sources, not just one, that can be combined as and when (e.g. the guiding likely to be full on during the summer season, with less interest during the autumn/winter).
Unfortunately I won’t be able to quit my full-time job until I’ve sold my house in Italy – which requires a steady, considerable source of income to pay the mortgage (and for another 10 years, if I don’t manage to sell).
The other day, I got an analysis of my predicted pension through (I work in the public sector). I found out that, if I continue working until the age of 65, I’ll be entitled to approx. £13,000 a year (before tax) for the remaining years of my life (after 65).
My life, following along this relatively safe path, would look as follows:
work in same or similar job for another 30 years (I have no career ambitions – the higher you get, the more you need to suck up = not me. I’m a rebel.)
giving most of my life away to someone that is not me
then, at 65 (knackered out from bullshitting and submitting to cunts), I’d probably turn into an alcoholic, having been brainwashed into thinking that work = my identity, the meaning of life
and the money I’d be getting for my wasted life: £13,000 p.a. BEFORE TAX
Seeing a potential life path laid out so clearly in front of me only solidified my thinking that I’ve got to get out, sooner rather than later. What a potential waste of life I could lead, only to be finally free at 65, with little money in my pocket and all spirits beaten out of me!
With a little luck, I’ll be out next year (fuck pensions, fuck security, fuck the credit crunch).
Monday’s day trip into the Western Highland has brought about a stimulus different to the one originally anticipated. The weather was rather wild (rainy, misty), generating immense enjoyment from sitting in the bus, immobile, with time for reflection.
I thought about the reality and practicalities of earning money while writing, analysing my current set-up of paid employment and the possibilities within this current job. For instance, I could in theory ask to work part-time (3 days a week) – but in the current set-up, this would very likely not be granted due to a colleague having just gone on maternity leave (she’s a part-timer at 2 days / week). We’ve employed someone as maternity cover in the meantime.
I could use this colleague’s coming back in a year’s time strategically – asking to work part-time, with a simultaneous proposal of how this could work: I’d give over my 2 days to the maternity cover or returning colleague, thus enabling a smooth transition with no gaps.
There is potential, then, in my current job to support my becoming a writer, in just over a year’s time. It won’t be easy and I need to be very strategic about it – my work is quite specific – but the opportunity will be there. If I make a strong enough ‘business case’, I will be able to drop 2 days of my working week, enabling me to earn enough money to survive while freeing up time to do what I have to do.
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
In Virginia Woolf’s quote, money for writing is much more difficult to achieve than a room of one’s own. Woolf herself had a stipend of £500 a year (inherited from an aunt) so she was able to focus exclusively on her fiction. Prior to that, however, she was a slave to the work machinery, and to making money – just like myself:
Before that I had made my living by cadging odd jobs from newspapers, by reporting a donkey show here or a wedding there; I had earned a few pounds by addressing envelopes, reading to old ladies, making artificial flowers, teaching the alphabet to small children in a kindergarten. Such were the chief occupations that were open to women before 1918. I need not, I am afraid, describe in any detail the hardness of the work, for you know perhaps women who have done it; nor the difficulty of living on the money when it was earned, for you may have tried. But what still remains with me as a worse infliction than either was the poison of fear and bitterness which those days bred in me. To begin with, always to be doing work that one did not wish to do, and to do it like a slave, flattering and fawning, not always necessarily perhaps, but it seemed necessary and the stakes were too great to run risks; and then the thought of that one gift which it was death to hide – a small one but dear to the posessor – perishing and with it myself, my soul – all this became like a rust eating away the bloom of the spring, destroying the tree at its heart.
I do have various plans to free myself from wage slavery (9-5) and this week have had some news that may materialise into a chunk of money (I’m not talking huge amounts – I haven’t won the lottery!). I don’t want to reveal any more until I have more concrete information. For now, let this be known: I have a plan.