Bleed

There are days when I think about this: if I were working a full-time job, should I be paid 80% less than a man?

I’m not saying that would make me happy. But it’s something I consider once a month during my period, when everything feels like too much.

Although I am still productive at work, there’s definitely a dip compared to my usual level of productivity. I’m more tired, and occasionally, in more pain. That dip is inevitable.

As an independent writer, I factor this into my calendar. But what if I was working for someone, had less control over my work and took a monthly salary?

Consider that this state lasts about five days every month. Why should I be paid the same amount as a man who was my equal?

Do I deserve to be paid the same amount as a man who has the same level of intelligence and competence, but doesn’t experience that five days of lowered capacity?

On the other hand, say I had more control over my work in a full-time job, and was able to complete the month’s worth of work, with less days than my male counterpart. Would I then deserve to be paid more?

I don’t have answers to these questions.

Adventure

Sometimes the Universe gives you exactly what you want, even if you never explicitly asked for it. And for some reason, in my current life, the Universe has been looking out for me. 

A year ago, I was in a bad place. My business was doing well and after two years of profitable bootstrapping, was providing me with a steady personal income. 

But I wasn’t happy. There was no personal satisfaction and no indication that I would ever be free of that business, which at that point, I found restrictive and antagonistic to my personal goals.

There were days when I wondered if running a business was just an excuse for not pursuing my creative writing life.

Then things happened. And I found myself having to start over from scratch. 

I didn’t see it as freedom in the beginning. All I knew was that the world that I was familiar with had disappeared. 

In The Hero with A Thousand Faces, the hero is often forced into his journey. He is forced to cross the threshold between the ordinary world and the unknown world. That’s where he discovers his magic. 

Likewise, I found myself having to cross the threshold and it turned out to be a good thing. 

The real adventure begins when you cross the border between familiarity and the wild outside. 

Friend

Last year, I was persuaded into writing a conference report. At the time, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and let the world move on without me. 

It was initially presented as a choice. Just come for the conference. If you want, write some articles about it. 

I said, okay because even though it felt like my life was falling apart, I was still curious.

And then a day later, just send me a quotation for a report. I sent over a quotation. 

I ended up covering the conference. And it opened so many doors for me. 

“Friends give you what you need, not what you want,” said the person who nudged me into this. He’d known the state I was in and yet, had expected more from me. 

I’ve realised that this is what true friends do. They don’t just cushion your falls. They make sure you have your chute on, then push you to the doorway of the airplane and ask you to jump. 

They listen to you sobbing over the phone then tell you that yes, you’re not in a great place right now but get up and move forward

They tell you that you will survive. They say you must succeed. They ask you to tell your story. 

True friends challenge you to be better than you are. 

Attention

While many may get their news on Facebook, my preferred choice for online reading material is newsletters. 

From curated lists like For the Interested to long-form feature articles in The Hustle to short tips in Growth Hacking Idea, my inbox is my personal newsfeed. I get emails on journalist jobs, writing submissions, new books to download.

Considering the amount of email newsletters I’m subscribed to, I definitely don’t have time to read them all. And I don’t. 

I select. And the rest goes into Trash. 

The issue with any kind of medium is that they are all competing for the same thing — attention. 

Every individual has the same amount of time in any one day. 24 hours, that’s all. And every media company is begging for just a fraction of those 24 hours. 

(If you’re taking the time to read this blog, thank you!)

The people who are only now starting to say that media is in trouble are late to the party. I’ve been told that journalism (and by extension, media) was dying since I was in university. 

“It will evolve,” I said to anyone who asked me then. And I still believe that it will. 

Anyone who creates and shares any sort of content needs to recognise that their audience’s time is valuable. What can a reader take away from your content? What value are you adding to their lives? 

If you have an audience, don’t take them for granted. 

TV

TV has a bad reputation that it doesn’t deserve.

Your brain will rot if you watch too much TV. It’s an idiot box. At some time or other, you’ve probably heard one of those lines.

Like books and magazines and radio, TV is only a medium. Mindless consumption can happen in any medium, not just TV.

And likewise, magnificent storytelling can be executed on any medium.

I’ve been rather taken by the visual medium lately, specifically TV. It evokes a different feeling than books. You use your eyes and ears more. You practice connecting visual and auditory cues on a conscious level.

There’s an element of human psychology at play. To create a good show for TV, the details matter.

What colours your characters wear, the soundtrack playing in each scene, the frame of the shot. It all adds to the vibe you want to create.

I can’t get Russian Doll of my head. I finally got round to watching the fifth season of Bojack Horseman. Every single time I watch TV shows like these, I wonder, how could TV be bad?

You can tell deep stories on TV. You can ask questions about morality and philosophy. You can make a commentary on human nature.

Although everything on TV looks like it’s all laid out for you to see, there are many things below the surface. Even more than books, because on TV, you are on the outside looking in.

There is depth to the storyline, if you choose to dissect its meaning.

Insufficient

I’ve been extremely morbid lately. More than I usually am, less in that adolescent angsty way and more in an estate-planning sort of way. 

I’m realising that time is so limited. “Money is everywhere, time is irreplaceable,” I told a friend the other day, in a conversation about negotiation. 

Say you get the green light for $10,000 in five minutes, would you spend another half hour negotiating for another $100? $200? How much are your hours worth?

My priority these days, when it comes to time, is family. There will never be enough time with them. 

Just the other day, I was thinking about how much time I have left with Jacob. As a small breed of dog, he probably has five to seven years left. (I’d like to say up to 10 years, and I’ve told him he should try to live that long. But I’m also a realist.)

I see him on average about once a week. Even if he lives seven more years, I’ll have a total of 364 days with him. That’s just about one year. It’s not enough. 

My hour with Jacob is worth more than $1000. For me these days, people trump productivity. 

Lifeline

Sometimes even an email from a stranger can be a lifeline. 

At the start of the year, as I was struggling to find the balance between my dual role as an artist and a marketer, I happened to read about “the hidden costs of growth hacks” in one of the newsletters that I subscribe to. And it was exactly what I needed. 

As a marketer, I’ve done things for the quick win. I’ve made content that didn’t resonate with even myself. I’ve written in voices that were not my own. 

And while there’s nothing wrong with that per se, do it too much, too often and something inside you slowly wastes away. We start to see our audience in terms of cost and revenue, and less in the context of community and relationships. 

In the book Start with Why, Simon Sinek writes about how the world’s biggest movements and companies gained traction because at the core of everything they pursued, there was one big WHY. 

It can be tough to focus on that WHY. There’s always the temptation to jump onto everything that’s trending without stopping to think if that’s what our ideal audience actually wants. We think about growth hacks instead of aiming for long-term growth. 

It’s hard to walk the line. But I’m learning. 

PS. Creative Caffeine is one of my must-read newsletters, especially on days when I feel uninspired, alone or just generally listless.