Unsurprisingly, yesterday’s bad news has prompted a certain degree of soul-searching. The reality of the situation still doesn’t quite feel like it has hit me yet. I’m depressed, yes, but it doesn’t quite feel “real”, if you know what I mean.
I’ve been taking advantage of this calm before the inevitable storm to do a bit of pondering about what I might want to do next, or how I might want to do it. And so far I’ve pondered the following options.
- Teaching. No. Nope. No no no. Never. No. I may have all the relevant qualifications, but the last two times I tried teaching it had an enormously negative impact on my mental health. I enjoy teaching, but all the other stuff that goes with it — primarily to do with behaviour management — is just too stressful to even contemplate.
- Private music teaching. Possible, but difficult to become established, plus the fact that I don’t have 1) my own transport (Andie and I currently share a car), 2) a real piano to teach at home or 3) a particularly suitable space to teach in. So I think that’s out, at least for now.
- Attempting to return to a previous career in a certain tech-related retail chain. That door closed a long time ago, despite the fact that I’m clearly eminently qualified and good at it. This was evidenced by the fact that I made superb progress on a previous attempt to return, the management of the store I was applying to were enormously enthusiastic, then they abruptly and bluntly turned me down without giving a reason after contacting my previous management. (We parted on poor terms after I made an official complaint about certain managers’ workplace bullying.) That copy-book is forever blotted.
- Freelancing. Not a terrible idea, but it brings with it a considerable degree of hassle, plus an unreliable paycheque each month. Successful freelancing involves endless pitching and hoping, writing content to tight deadlines if you do happen to be successful, having to do your own taxes (ugh) and occasional sleepless nights of despair as you note your bank balance is going steadily down and hasn’t gone up for a very long time indeed.
- A permanent position on another site or magazine. Obviously this would be the ideal solution, since it would make for a relatively seamless transition from what I’m doing now. The trouble is, very few places are hiring right now; even new sites such as Kotaku UK already have a staff in place, while others have a well-established network of writers; others still prefer to recruit quietly from their extended network rather than prominently displaying their available positions. So while achieving this would be ideal, actually doing so may be challenging. Still, feelers are being put out.
- Broadening my remit. I write about games. I haven’t written about anime, TV or tech professionally but I’ve had plenty of practice on this site and know I could do a good job. Question is, do I want to?
- The shift that all games journalists seem to make at one point or another. A lot of games journalists end up in PR for some unknown reason — the better pay probably being a significant contributing factor. I know I could do a good job of PR with the skillset I have; the difficulty here is in convincing recruiters of that fact when I don’t have any practical experience.
- Taking a risk, Part 1. I have a number of books in me, both fiction and non-fiction. I could try and write those, but actually “making it” — i.e. being able to make enough money to survive — with one will be a challenge, particularly in today’s crowded marketplace. It would have to be something great, unusual or both to stand out. Or perhaps I should write some vampire teen romance. Is that still fashionable?
- Taking a risk, Part 2. One thing that came out of my announcing that I was leaving USgamer was that a lot of people reached out to me on Twitter and said that they were thankful for the unique perspective (among mainstream games journalism, anyway) that I provided on Japanese gaming. One went so far as to say that I understand the games they like and why they like them, which is exactly what I was hoping to achieve with my work. These people got me thinking: is there a market for specialist writing like this? Could I somehow do it full-time (or near-as-dammit) through something like Patreon? I don’t know how viable Patreon is as a platform — I’m yet to really see any successful projects from it — but it’s an interesting possibility at least. It’s also a big risk.
So that’s where I am now. There are also a number of options that have flowed through my mind but which are impractical at this particular juncture due to my lacking some relevant skills — things like working in localisation for Japanese games, for example. I don’t know where I’ll end up or what I’ll end up doing, but I sincerely hope it is sooner rather than later.
Wish me luck. Oh, and wish me happy birthday while you’re on.