Weeding out the unnecessary and keeping the things I love and value close has been the a recurring refrain in my life for a few years now. It started off as an unconscious, casual side-effect of moving out to Goa, falling off the grid when I got off facebook and the like, but in recent time it’s become a mindful, intentional habit and I see it creep into every little decision I make. Consequently it’s reflected in the experiences that have come my way, the situations I’ve found myself in, the people I am surrounded by, the relationships I make and for better or worse, I think this is here to stay.
Possibly the biggest change I made somewhere at the start of last year was to cut back on professional assignments that no longer made sense to me. This was partly conscious, because I wanted to focus on certain kinds of writing about certain specific things, but it was also fuelled by the incredible frustration of dealing with horrible clients, settling for less money despite increased efforts, compromising on the quality of writing because of unreasonable editorial demands and the like. I snapped off a few exploitative professional ties, even at the risk of being unemployed and without contracted work for a good long time before I picked it up again from scratch. I suppose everything happens at the right time and I needed that culmination of many months of realising what I am good at and where my heart really lies. So in cutting back on work, I decided that I will do fewer projects, but focus on work that is meaningful and enjoyable.
Less work has meant a far lesser income that I am used to. Less profits, less savings for a rainy day. Of course I couldn’t have dealt with this one without the rock solid support that I get from VC. To go form being DINK to SINK, just because we can, is a huge privilege. Not one that I will forget in a hurry. That he bolsters me not just economically, but supports me creatively, valuing what I do, encouraging me to start small, work my way up and gives me inputs and help on how to grow my business the right way, is where I draw strength from. Shredding work down to the bare minimum – just me is to deal with a lot of loneliness. Not just physically, but in the pursuit of this business of writing itself. It is lonely. Freelance writing, lonelier still, and I count on having him around on the loneliest, days that stretch out like question marks in front of me.
While VC has provided the economic padding for our lives to not go off rails, it has also meant that we have had to consciously realign of our lifestyle to fit limited means. Something that would not be easy to do unless we were 100% on board with the idea and on the same page. Time and again my belief in a simple tenet echoed in this fabulous essay on creativity, self reliance and sticking to a living doing what you love has reinforced the idea that if the project you choose is genuine and has value, success follows.
If your project has real substance, ultimately the money will follow you like a common cur in the street with its tail between its legs.
Some times success isn’t monetary, but when it is, money it brings in, no matter how much or how little, is enough.
This realisation has come in small doses of accepting that “all we need is less,” every time I turned down a worthless assignment, every time I gave up an opportunity to “do something different” despite the lucrative promises they held. Conversely, it’s helped put a premium on myself, my skills and my worth, so I am learning everyday to say no where it counts, to push back when I need to, and ask for more when the time is right. It’s been a slow and steady learning curve, but I am happy about where I am where I am today. To be able to do what I love has been possible because I have a willing teammate, who believes in it as much as I do and cheers me on every step of the way.
(Part 2: People, will follow.)