Plan B from Outer Space

The job hunting is not going well. Thus far I am up to 27 positions (that I have recorded, there may be others I forgot to note down). And no interviews. And that, is kinda depressing…

plan9It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a job that I want, or one I don’t. One I think I could do with my eyes closed, or one that would be a stretch. I write cover letters and applications, I send them in, and then I hear nothing back. I mean, seriously! I know it’s a recession and all, but what does a guy have to do to get an interview round here!?

Thus far, the plan has been get a job, get any job, put some money in the bank, and think about the future next year. Well, Plan A (as we’ll call it) hasn’t been working. I’ve mainly applied for charity comms jobs, because that’s where my experience is at. There seem to be plenty of them out there, but far, far too many people going for them. I keep persevering, keep turning the handle hoping that a job will fall out in the end. But they aren’t, and each passing week it is harder to motivate myself to get back on the treadmill.

I’ve been at my parents for 3 months now. 3 months of seclusion, away from friends and a real life of my own. It has seemed like the ‘sensible’, pragmatic solution to the problem of employment seeking et al, but there is only so much of this I can take…

So, Plan A is failing. I need a plan B (and maybe a Plan C), ready to move into when I can’t take any more of this. Trouble is, I’m not at all sure what they might be…

***

I’ve had some great conversations with friends about this over the last week. Suggested possibilities include setting my sights lower (a few steps back down the ladder, so to speak); moving into another field; retraining; getting a basic job (like bar work), at least part-time; and going off and doing something more interesting for a while. And, all the suggestions are worth considering.

I’m seriously musing on the retraining/moving into an alternate field thing. I’ve been tired of the charity sector for a while (if I’m honest). There is plenty there that I still find worthy, that still inspires me, but there is also a lot that frustrates. Too much reinventing the wheel. Too much of a silo mentality. Too great an expectation that staff should work harder, for less money, than any other sector. If Plan A featured the possibility of getting out of the sector in a years time, then why not think about it now?

So, another sector. A completely different career. Sounds good. But what?

My problem has always been that I am interested in too many things. All it takes is a blog post or a magazine article to get me excited by a new field. I can think of about ten things I’d like to try, a dozen jobs that I’ve thought, “that might be fun!”

But at this point in my life, I’ve got to be a little more careful with my career decisions. I can’t do the pick’n’mix thing. With one degree under my belt already, any new training is going to be expensive. It’s going to mean taking on debt. And, if you’re going to take on debt in a recession, you’re really going to want some assurance that you can pay it off. That means not only training in a field that has some guarantee of work in it, but also that you’ll actually like the job you’ve trained for!

So, retraining sounds like a possibility, but one that I’m pretty cautious about at this point. And what, you may ask, would I retrain as? Well, the current possibilities include eco-building/eco-energy (good for the ethical part of me, and for the practical, engineering brain), and some form of land/estate management (y’know, to fit somehow with all that dreaming of farms and manor houses and the like). Possibilities, but involving some serious study (and cost).

***

There are other things I could do, too. I’ve always been interested in project management. This might be an area I could retrain in, or it could be one where I try and find a lowly job, back down the pay/responsibility scale, with an organisation that might train me in the not-too-distant future.

Other possible alternative plans include going and doing something random for a while. Like working on a farm. Or travelling (although cash flow issues would probably stymie that one). I’ve even thought of getting a lowly, barely-paid-at-all job with an organisation like the YHA, purely because it would involve working in some great locations…

***

So, there are possibilities, and there are dreams.

In a great conversation about all of this with a friend on Sunday morning, we got talking a little about career ‘dreams’ we have though of pursuing. My friend confessed to having a dream of writing for glossy girlie magazines (a little more glam, and a little less respectable than her current job!). But in the midst of the confessions and the dreaming, she had some wisdom:

Of course, if I really wanted to do it, I would have done it by now. I’d have given up my job, and taken the lowest paid, bottom-rung position, just to get my foot in the door. I would have done whatever it takes. I think that’s a good measure of your dreams, really

Now that, is wisdom.

Y’see, amidst all the interests and the ‘what if’s’, I have had my dreams. I want to write. And really, when I’m most honest with myself, what I want to write is film scripts.

I have an overactive imagination, and I have a lot of ideas. Most of them never get out of my head onto paper, not even in sketch or outline. But part of me still wants to believe that I could do it; that I could be a scriptwriter for Hollywood.

I dream of writing that killer drama, or that new Sci-Fi adaptation. I dream of which directors I would want making my work, or which actors I would cast in which roles. Of all the many things I have considered or wondered about, this last year or so, it is this dream that is the most persistent. By far.

And yet… I haven’t done it. Despite being unemployed, with time on my hands (at least theoretically) and plenty of ideas in my head, I have thus far failed to produce more than a (small) handful of disparate threads. There is no big, killer script brewing, and no hours are being put in to achieve this dream.

I watch films, read film mags, and talk films with friends, but I am no closer to writing one now than I was five years ago. Over time the dream has grown and become more nagging, more persistent, but the painful reality is that no real effort has been put it on my part. It remains nothing more than yet another fantasy in my (very active) mind.

***

So, as I sit here, bashing out another blog post instead of, say, applying for a job or writing a script or short story, am I (in reality) any closer to Plan B? Possibly, but probably not.

Writing these posts is often rather cathartic for me; it helps me think. But not really any more so than having the conversations I had over the long weekend in London and Greatham. I still need to research the possible options, and work out which is really attractive and viable. I still need to kick myself out of my malaise. Writing this is better than spending an afternoon playing Zuma, but probably not by that much…

So, still job hunting, still wondering about the future. If you are a friend, and have any realistic career suggestions, or just want to kick me up the backside again (Josh), you know where the comment stream is…

Thanks for reading.

[Oh, and if you don’t get the title, then look up one of these two films. Classic!]

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6 thoughts on “Plan B from Outer Space

  1. Hey Andy,

    MY CHALLENGE TO YOU:

    Maybe do a ‘test drive’ of the writing thing for a week – see how you like it? Spend a week on it as if it were your actual job and see what you think of it after that? Maybe you’ll want to spend another week, and another and so on until at the end of 6 months you have most of a novel / script? Get yourself up and start ‘work’ at 0900. Give yourself an hour for lunch and finish at 1700. Spend the time between 0900 and 1700 blocking out some scenes from a story and working on a basic plot. Aim to get a complete short story out by the end of the week. It’s a bit early for NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/whatisnano), but if you use a similar output level you should aim for maybe 12000 words in a week. If you don’t have access to a computer full time then we could revise that down and include the requirement to plot out scenes on paper to blitz when you do have a computer.

    To keep you honest, and to provide yourself with an incentive to live up to I suggest that you post a word count and excerpt (if wanted) each day on your blog, much like the NaNoWriMo folks do. I also suggest, much like the NaNoWriMo that you concentrate on quantity rather than quality.

    If you still like writing after a week of ‘working’ as a writer than week 2 will be even more fun!

    So… up for the challenge? How committed to the dream are you 😉

    Love Kat (who’s hoping that she can still be classed in the friend column as my last few comments could have been read as antagonistic).

  2. Write. Just write.
    Look upon the darkness of unemployment as an opportunity – we rarely get periods of time when we can devote ourselves utterly to things that may/may not bring money in.

    I agree with Kat’s suggestion of setting timescales & goals. If you structure your day so that you’ve got time for writing & imagining, as well as distinct time for boring job apps, you might find you get somewhere.

    If blog-writing’s cathartic, maybe begin with that style and see what happens. Or, failing that, you could simply publish ‘the wisdom of Andy’ – I could be persuaded to buy it!

  3. Aaron Sherman says:

    Andy, as ambitious as your dream is, at least you have got one, and know what that chief one is. I have many vague dreams, not specific, but haven’t been able to apply myself fully to one. I’m otherwise in a similar state, and I would be wiling to pour myself into many things, so long as it were in my natural abilities to learn/do, and were beneficial on all or most levels to humanity and to myself. I wish someone wise and trustworthy would just say “Aaron, just do ___” and I might give it my best. So for you I would count it a great advantage to know at least what your chief ambition is. So long as it’s not an all or nothing goal, if there is at least a ladder that you can live on for a time, then I say surely pursue it, at least that will guide your choice of work/study in the meanwhile, towards that goal. But I don’t know if there’s a job that involves script writing on lesser level for beginning. Anyway, that’s not really saying anything I suppose,other than yes, count it a blessing to know your dream that specifically, at least that’s a direction.

  4. Andy

    Give up! Surrender to your fate. Start collecting trash and scrap metal in a shopping basket. You can recycle this stuff for a few dollars at the scrap dealers. Pawn what you can at the Pawn brokers and move to Cuba. There is free health care there and you can manage a escape from Cuba project.

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