Unsolicited career advice • 22 October 2007 • The SnowBlog
Unsolicited career advice
It's been a lot more difficult to sell books this year than last year. The only consolation - if it is a consolation - for what seems like a backward step for us is that everyone else seems to be having a tough time at the moment too. At least among those we speak to, returns are waaaay up.
So every now and again I tease Em about how difficult publishing is and suggest that we both might like to return to our previous jobs where we made tons of money without any real responsibility towards the companies we worked for. Shorter hours, a lot more cash and at the end of the day we could just switch off because it was someone else's business (though somehow switching off never seemed that easy). And once I've suggested it, Em and I usually share a collective shudder at the thought. Neither of us much liked the people we used to have to pretend to be in order that our bosses would give us good appraisals. To illustrate: in various annual reviews over the years I've been told to smile less, to change the people I sit with at lunch, to make sure I stay for after-work drinks, to find more indirect ways to tell people that I disagree with them (though god knows I'm hardly blunt) - and then to find a different way to be indirect because my current indirectness seemed patronising. And bear in mind that both Em and I were always goody-goodies, trying hard to do what was asked of us. We used to put a lot of effort into suppressing our natural personalities so we could replace them with something that our bosses liked better.
A big part of starting Snowbooks was to let Em and I figure out how to be more who we are with each passing year, not less. We reckoned if we could only succeed by pretending to be someone else then we probably wouldn't find our success very satisfying. I'm not sure how much money a company would have to pay us to go back to the corporate playacting where our real selves weren't considered good enough but it would be a vast sum.
So to anyone out there weighing up money versus doing what you want to do with your life, can I recommend the latter. In the UK at least, it's difficult to starve; it's not difficult to be unhappy.
This morning's dawn
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