My aim is to write and illustrate whimsical, moving stories
make a quietly flourishing living out of it.
In the ninth year of my (so far) decade-long fiction writing career, I finally realized I’d been sputtering and splashing about all this time. Yes, I was writing, blogging, mingling with fellow writers like we were all told to do.
Yet, as much as I love what I’ve put out, they neither sustained nor fulfilled me.
I was doing the work. Yet I wasn’t entirely happy.
It was 100% my fault.
Brace Yourself (Cringeworthy Details Ahead)
I was making a dismal living from something I felt okay with doing. I wasn’t able to provide more for my family. Pimples broke out all over my face. My hair thinned. I felt ugly and inferior. I fled from plans made with friends because I didn’t have that in my budget. I scrimped. I saved. I rarely travelled unless it was to visit a sister in Malaysia. I swallowed stress that threatened to bubble over, foolishly thinking I was “handling” my situation.
At my bleakest, most nauseating, bottom-of-the-pit moment, I asked myself:
“Do you still want to carry on?”
There was no answer.
Breaking Point for Our Main Character
That’s when we truly get to know them and what they really, really want, right?
Well, at least I knew what I really, really didn’t want.
“I don’t want to give this up.”
“But you are going nowhere. What about your future? Don’t you want a stable income, more savings, more to give to your parents, more trips, more …”
“Yes, I want all of that … as well as my writing career.”
My rational mind was silent again for a long while. She continued, quietly, “Then you’ll have to be more intelligent in making this work. And braver. You must pour yourself in wholeheartedly with a solid plan. No more random goals and methods. No more mickey-mousing around. No more giving in to your insecurities. You need to play bigger and focus on what works.”
(Okay, she didn’t exactly say all these at that moment. She only said, “You need to make this work.” The rest fell in as I went along “making this work.”)
No Phoenix Rebirth but Something Close
For 7 months, while working as a freelance writer/ghostwriter/editor, I spent my weeknights and weekends reading and learning about my small and big dreams and how to get to the level I want. There was a lot on genuine confidence, self-compassion, playing bigger, and scaffolding a system around them until I found the one that works best for me. My own playbook.
Has it worked?
It is working. For now.
I understand certain parts might change, but the fundamentals are solid-ifying.
Like what, you ask?
Like the kind of writing & illustrating work I most dearly want to do.
Like the projects I want to say yes to. And the type of clients I want to work with.
Like the mood/attitude I show up with every day.
Like the standards I hold myself to.
Like the ways I take care of myself (exercise, nutrition, sleep, family time, connecting with genuine friends, reading, watching shows that move me with their storytelling, and letting go of what doesn’t work anymore).
Every morning I show up the way I decide on, things get a bit clearer.
And every time it gets clearer, I’m reminded of the dawn waking inside me.
So this is my story till this point.
A decade in sounds like a long time. But I suspect I’ve only gotten to the end of the beginning.
And in most cases, this is where it begins to get interesting.
I’d Like to Thank … Tea & British Crime Drama
They’ve helped me through many doubtful days. Always nudging me on a bit farther. Always showing me how to tell good stories and allowing me to yearn to write my best ones right here, right now.
No more sputtering about.
Time to swim for real.