Monday, January 24, 2011

An AMSL Confessional

First, thanks for the responses to Friday's post. Basically we're all in the same boat; we love football so the research bit tends to be less "work" and more "hobby," especially if it involves watching matches, because that is of course why we all jumped on board this ship of fools in the first place.

The writing bit is really about finding that elusive "chunk of time." In the past, I tried the "writing a little whenever I have five minutes at the computer" approach, but it doesn't suit the blog format (at least for me) and a lot of the time whatever I'm writing about becomes irrelevant in a matter of days, if not hours. And my life right now is measured in minutes (whinge, whinge, excuses, excuses).

Anyway, the one common thread in all the responses was this:
"I am positive, however, that the periods of time when motivation eludes me would disappear if I were being paid a sustainable (I use the term loosely, as long as I could pay bills) wage for the work."
"Now if someone would just pay me!"
"I'm aspiring football writer/journalist!"
Yeah. As Jason Davis might put it, perhaps it's time to lift the curtain for a moment. About two years ago, I was coming to the end of a relatively well-paying but secure administrative two-year term position—with benefits—at a local university. Basically, it was an experiment: can I do the office job life? It was great and I liked the people there, but at the end, I decided not to apply for my job when it was offered full-time. I thought, "hey, I'll be a soccer writer and a countertenor! It won't be secure, but it will be my dream come true."

It didn't really work out that way. Unless you are one of those rare souls is so obviously talented that regular soccer writing work knocks on your door, or, alternatively, unless you are one of those rare souls who thinks nothing of working their asses off pitching freelance queries every single day, either without reply or with rejection, or with acceptance and subsequent rewrite requests and/or kill fees, football writing isn't ever really going to pay your bills. I thought I could at least be the latter, but after two years of "I can do this! I CAN DO THIS!," it's clear that I'm not.

So, last August (!), I made the decision to go back and get another secure(ish) full-time office job. Unfortunately, I chose to wait until after the economic crash, so, incidentally, I'm still looking (I naively thought my plentiful CV would make me a shoe-in until I realized EVERYONE wants a secure, boring office job. Richard Florida is clearly an idiot). I know football writing CAN pay though as the last World Cup proved, and I plan to keep doing it, but for reasons in my life right now I don't need to be defined by it. My hope is once I get my real life adult job again, I'll have a bit of time here and there to keep doing it. I will take the rare offers of paid work as they come, of course, but it will be a paid hobby kind of thing. 

And I think more and more this is likely the ideal. This is already what singing countertenor has become for me. I wrestled for years over whether I would become a full-time singer, and then just sort of settled in a pattern of reliable, non-travel intensive choral work. Singing is now a paid hobby, although that doesn't mean I don't treat it with utmost professionalism. And that's what I really want from the football, and that's also why I fundamentally disagree with the first quote up there. Anything you're paid to do, even if you love it, is a job. All jobs go through ebbs and flows of crushing grind work verses "holy shit I can't believe I'm paid to do this." I think a lot of football bloggers circling around, waiting for their moment to arrive, might be more careful for what they wish for. Anyway, enough of that bullshit, curtain closed.

If you'd like to read something I wrote that's actually about soccer, my CSN column is up.      

UPDATE: Um, just so you all know, this doesn't mean I'm not writing here anymore. I cannot stress this enough, A More Splendid Life will die when I do. Or when the Internet asplodes.


Jason Davis said...


Brian said...

Bummer! If I wanted to find quality football writing I knew I could always come here.

I look forward to your posts on CSN.

Best of luck, Richard.

Richard Whittall said...

Hey no no, I'm still going to be writing about soccer here! This isn't a retirement speech!

Elliott said...

That sucks Richard - I definitely was on the unemployment dole for a few months a year ago, and the stream of soccer writing cash helped with groceries but little else.

Still, we are guilty of not following the tried and true formula of obnoxious banner ads & 5 "news of the day" paragraph posts style. Perhaps our ideals get in the way of profits?

All the best.