i thought it might be helpful or interesting to some of you who read my blog to know what i am up to.
For the longest time i have been largely unemployed – officially since November when the horrible online Christian article platform i was writing for finally pulled the plug after three years, after a last six months of increasingly irritating and unprofessional changes which completely schnied [what a great word!] the writers. So was glad to see the end of that, which had only been very part-time income for the time i worked with them.
FOLLOW THE WHITE BUNNY
i then attempted to do some freelance writing which proved a lot harder than expected and after joining a number of online groups was not finding any luck. i was rejected from a number of transcription places because my high seventies scores needed to be ninety of higher.
Then someone told me of a platform called WritingBunny [because of how much those two things have to do with each other, right?] and i heard that only 2% of people who apply make it. So i was not feeling super confident after my recent rejections but thought i had nothing to lose [except the loss of dignity associated with failing to make it into something called WritingBunny!] and so i took the test and submitted some work and made it in.
WritingBunny pays in dollars so that was helpful although there were not super amounts of work but it helped keep a bit of a flow of funds coming in, although it had to be paid into my Paypal account and after Telkom and Standard Bank, Paypal must be my third nemesis. i opened an account in America and when we returned to South Africa i struggled to get access because both my address and phone number and bank have all changed and so basically i have a pile of money gathering there that i can buy things with but can’t transfer to our bank in South Africa [thus far after many phone conversations with different people]. So still trying to figure out that one.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
Finally last week, after eights months of not working and close to three years of not really working, i started my new job. i am working with an organisation called Heartlines with a program called ‘What’s Your Story?’ which looks to bring different people together through story-telling. [Some might say i am being paid to do what i’ve been doing for the longest of times, which would be somewhat correct – although being connected to Heartlines means there is greater access to a wider range of people and so hopefully the conversations will be much more far reaching]. So i am super stoked about that because it is a great opportunity.
Along with that i am also technically writing a monthly column for Huffington Post South Africa. i say technically because for an online newspaper their communication could use some work so there are still some i’s and t’s to dot and cross but they have invited me to do that and so looking forward to that taking shape, with the hope that it might grow to something more regular. i have written about four articles for them so far with a new kind of Tom Eaton’esque style of parody satire which i have really enjoyed crafting.
And even further news is that i’ve been having some conversations with Cape Talk radio with the hope of pretty soon getting an hour at some crazy everyone-sleeping-but-the-vampires-and-the-drunks time slot just to dip my feet in the waters there. i have a friend who used to work there and so asked for contact details months again and then a few weeks ago decided to email and tell them i wanted to be on radio and their immediate response was “Come in and let’s meet” which had me as gobsmacked as a couple of junior Jehovah’s Witnesses who never expect to make it past the front door [See the episode of Black Books where Bernard is trying to dodge doing his taxes and does just that]. Since then i’ve had two meetings and one radio show shadow and the next step is meant to be an hour on the radio hopefully sometime soon so watch this space.
From not much work at all to no work at all to a whole bunch of happening things, which is quite exciting and with the flexitime to still be able to largely do what i do in terms of engaging people on issues of making the world a better place.
BECOME A PATRON
In addition to these things, i am finally looking into something which i have been considering for a long time and which my friend Christy-Lyn and others have been telling me i should do which is signing up for Patreon. For the longest time Val and i have had two or three people who believe in what we do depositing some money into our bank which has really helped us get by when we desperately needed it and also given us the freedom to support some people, families and organisations with the money that we have.
Val and i are both engaged in a number of activities that we believe give value to the world and most of them are not paid and so something like this creates space and time to invest in those things and people and hopefully make a difference. So if you are someone who enjoys or benefits from the content i put out, then perhaps consider jumping on to that page and becoming a patron.
WALK A MILE IN THEIR SHOES
i don’t for a second think it is fair to say that i have experienced the same thing as the many men i see sitting on the side of the road [with chainsaws and levels and other equipment prominently displayed] hoping that someone will employ them for the day. That is next level and with my network of family and friends, i have never had the fear that i would end up on the street. To blanket call people without jobs lazy just demonstrates such a complete blindness to the thousands of people around the country doing whatever they can to try and put bread on their tables.
But at the same time, things have been a lot tighter for tbV and me for most of the time since we’ve returned from America. At any one point in the last year or so we have had enough money to last us through the next two months and if we’re honest sometimes the maths doesn’t add up as to how we still have money in the bank. And all that is without any kind of insurance or medical aid or savings to cushion us should we fall.
And in that context unemployment has felt very difficult and reaching for whatever kind of work i feel qualified for or able to pull off. Receiving many rejections from jobs i applied for or online opportunities i didn’t quite make the grade for. And then doing a number of whatever-i-could-find short-term work experiences [some writing, some workshops, some sitting with kids as they write exams] just to try and supplement Val’s income in some way. For this i am very grateful. Because i feel like i have had the smallest glimpse of what it is like on so many levels to face unemployment. It is discouraging, it is identity-degrading, and it can feel soul destroying.
So lessons learnt, experiences had and some new exciting challenges and opportunities ahead of me. One thing i am looking to get back to with some of the time this work buys for me is the race book for white people i was working on: ‘I’m not a racist butt!’ so hopefully there will be more news of that in the coming months.