Tag Archives: onwards and sideways

At the year’s end

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This time of year seems to be one for reviewing the past twelve months, and looking into the twelve to come. I find myself sitting here on Christmas Day, feeling very much at a loose end for numerous reasons, so introspection comes easily to me. I’m not going to bother to look outside my own sphere, as there are plenty of outlets for that kind of depressing stuff as it is.

I do have family, but we rarely get together for Christmas these days. It’s not because we can’t, it’s more we don’t really need to added to the fact we’re scattered around the country. We see each other fairly regularly, and we chat on the phone, or by email, so we keep up with each other. Christmas is a time for family, but it’s also a time for children—since we don’t have any littluns in the immediate family, there’s no real joy in it: just a bunch of middle aged and elderly folk eating and drinking themselves into a stupor in front of some rubbish television programmes. Christmas 2012 is just me, Best Beloved, our moggies, and a friend who is popping in for lunch.

While, for me, 2012 didn’t turn out quite so badly as it might have, it could have been better. I’ve been job-hunting for ages, and I even managed to score a few interviews over the year—which was more positive. None of them ended with me scoring the job, though. At least I was getting interviews, but I was obviously too good for them. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I think 2013 will see me applying for jobs that don’t require the skills I actually have. Such is life.

Between job-hunting I tried to keep my head above water without resorting to claiming benefits. The freelance world turned up one or two little jobs, which helped the bottom line, but it’s fair to say my heart really isn’t in it any more. It does rather look like I will throw in the towel in the new year, and sign on. I’ve not “signed on” since 1981. It feels like admitting defeat, which I suppose it is.

On the photographic side, I’ve had some fun. I got off my arse and organised a local photowalk group. Still in its infancy, I want to get things moving properly in the new year. I’m happy to say I’ve made some new friends through it, but I am finding the whole process a little daunting. I suppose I really want someone else to offer to help, so I had better ask them!

There still has not been any progress on the “model photography as a job” front. I had some images published earlier in the year, and I was commissioned by the ScaleSeven Group committee and newsletter editor to photograph a layout. It’s still a hard world to break into, for some reason, and it’s very annoying.

I’ve always wanted to go on a photography workshop, and the chance popped up today. Chris Marquardt, of the Tips From The Top Floor podcast, has organised two UK workshops for the late summer in 2013. I was keen to try and attend the one nearest me, in Farnborough, Hampshire. Sadly, the price is beyond my means. I am very unhappy about this, and it’s rather put the mockers on the rest of my day.

I have some more commissioned models to make, and I hope that I may be able to get a little more trade in that direction. It’s pitching things at the right prices, and getting my name out there. There are lots of others out there doing the same thing, so I need to find my niche. That is going to be hard.

So, 2012 was a bit hit and miss, and it rather looks like 2013 will start out the same. They say life is what you make it, so I guess I’d better really get myself organised and make something of my life, before it’s too late!

I don’t make resolutions, as such. As I tend to begin a new year with good intentions, only to be knocked down at almost every turn, there seems little point resolving to do something that ends up unattainable. I’d like to lose weight, I ought to get out on my bike more regularly, I should tidy the house and finish all those unfinished projects, but that’s as far as I will go with my good intentions. I know full well that most of those I have listed will probably never happen.

I’d better go and make myself sociable with our lunch guest, even though I am really not in the mood. A very merry Christmas and best wishes for the year to come from Snaptophobic Towers!

Hanging around

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2012 hasn’t started off terribly well at Snaptophobic Towers. I got a cold just before Christmas last year, which I shrugged off pretty quickly. The new year started with an upset stomach—not related to any excess on New Year’s Eve, I might add—and I have been knocked sideways by another heavy cold barely into the third week of the year. I hate being ill. 

Perhaps it’s a combination of these things, and the dull weather at the moment which is neither one thing or another, but I feel out of sorts. I feel in a kind of limbo. Hanging around.

As you know, I have been looking for full time work. Vacancies have been pretty thin on the ground in my area for a while, and I had more or less given up any prospect of firing my CV off into the void for the foreseeable future. This morning, though, two likely vacancies arrived in my email. I took a look, but decided it simply wasn’t worth my while even applying for them. 

What? Have I gone completely mad?

Well, no. Not really. I just had a dose of reality. Both were jobs for which I have the skill sets. Both were well-paid. Both were in a part of the county fairly difficult to get to from where I live. 

I have a mental block about travelling to that part of Kent known as Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. It is a lovely part of the county, but it is more than an hour’s drive from here, on single-carriageway A roads for the most part. I’m frankly getting too old for trekking across country to work eight or more hours, then trekking back again. 

What is the point in me even applying for such jobs? The descriptions were worded in such a way that it was clear they didn’t really want anyone of maturer years applying. They wanted younger, fresher people, or so it seemed to me. Why waste my bandwidth in applying when I won’t even get past the delete key of the agency’s in-box?

My confidence has taken a real knock in the past year or so, and I just can’t see the point in applying for jobs only to never hear from them again. It has happened so often now there seems no point in trying to carry on looking for jobs in my line of work. I have been here before, and I am unable to find work in any other sphere. Stuck in limbo. Again.

I am having no success in finding work in the model photography. I’m going to keep battering at that door until one of us gives. There are hints of some freelance design work, but currently it’s all ifs and maybes. They don’t pay the bills, but who knows? It may turn out differently in a while. 

Until I get over this funk, sort out the health problems and get a decent idea of what direction the rest of my life needs to take, I guess I’ll just have to contine hanging around.

Shhh!

I have been quiet. My last post was around five days ago. Yes, I am still alive.

The thing is, sometimes I am simply not in a bloggage mood. There are times when real life tends to intervene, and I find myself far enough away from my computer and the internet that I can ignore it for a good deal of the time.

Mood also plays a part. There are times when my internal struggles kick in, and I have to take time out to deal with them. I had a bout of what Churchill called his “black dog” a while ago, and he’s still lurking in the shadows. It probably won’t take much to entice him out to attack me again.

I could go on. I think it is the turning of the year that brings this stuff on. The fact that I am seemingly unable to find gainful employment, either in a full-time capacity or as a freelancer, is also weighing on my mind.

Without income, I cannot feed my hobbies. The project to create a scale model of Wolverton Station has foundered, I am unable to afford the lenses I want to complete my collection, and I find I am yearning for a medium format film camera. Replacing my car, completing some DIY projects around the house, and several other things that all require some financial input at some level are currently on hold.

I won’t go on. There’s little point. Something will happen, hopefully positively. Until then, I must uphold the family motto: In Quod Ut Pars—Onwards and Sideways.

Mmm, Dungeness | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

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It’s been a while since my last post. There’s a very good reason for this: I’ve got myself a new job. As you probably know if you follow my ramblings, I’ve been looking for full-time employment for ages, and finally my searches and applications have paid off.

While the upside of a steady income is excellent news (I can think about the new shiny things I haven’t been able to afford for a long time) the downside is the distance I have to commute to get there. The round trip is nearly 80 miles, although it’s almost all motorway. I take my time, setting off with time in hand in the mornings for example, but it’s still the best part of an hour at the beginning and end of the day.

Being positive, the job is near the English Channel, and I can see the sea with all its various moods from the office windows. The pay will be very handy after a lengthy period of drought on the income front, but it means I’m having to think about scheduling my photographic trips a little more carefully. The above photo shows Dungeness from the seafront near the office, and I am planning a day out visiting that very place before the summer is out — only now it’ll have to be a weekend instead of a mid-week trip as I had originally been thinking.

Anyway, the first week of work is under my belt. I have kind of settled in, no-one’s complained too loudly if I’ve made an error somewhere, so let’s hope it lasts a good long time. I am already making plans for the income!

Where next?

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I made the mistake of going self-employed in my chosen profession a decade ago now. For the first few years, I made an adequate living. Things looked fairly rosy. Then the work dried up, I couldn’t seem to get new business that made ends meet, and I ended up going into paid work again. Stupidly, when that job made me redundant, I didn’t sign on as unemployed but rather chose to relaunch the freelancing designer/jobbing artworker career.

That was a mistake. I should have gone on the dole until something else came up. Instead, I’ve struggled to make ends meet, relying on Best Beloved to cover the increasing gaps in income. Thankfully, he’s retired on a reasonable pension, so we can afford groceries and utility bills, and the occasional luxury item. But that’s not the way it should be. We still find we’re liquidating assets and downsizing in order to make ends meet.

I’ve made a little money over the past few years, here and there, odd regular jobs, a stint at a small company in south London, but that’s all gone now. I found my creative spark had been snuffed out by increasingly inept and recalcitrant clients who always seemed to know my job better than me. I tried, in vain, to find other gainful employment, outside the creative industries. I spent a month as a temporary worker in a warehouse, and vowed never to go back unless there was absolutely no other option left on this planet.

With some former colleagues, I tried to launch a new business, but that barely got off the starting line. Literally. Despite the best efforts, our venture was let down by various parties, and so it is withering on the vine. I suspect it won’t make it beyond the summer before it’s wound up. A shame, because it seemed like a surefire money-making scheme at the time.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying for over a year now to find a new job. Unable to, or unqualified for, almost everything else, I have fallen back on “what I know”. I have lost track of how many applications have been submitted, but in all that time I have had one interview (failed, apparently, because I didn’t seem keen enough at the interview…) and two rejection emails, one of which was just yesterday.

It appears I am now, to put it simply, not the right candidate for the only job I can actually do. I’m either not qualified (20 years’ experience in the business don’t mean anything compared to a paper qualification, apparently), or it seems I’m deemed too old (being only a few years shy of my half century). To where do I turn now? 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t ask for much in life. I just want to be solvent, be able to pay the bills, and have a bit left over for the nicer things in life. I don’t need a lot, really, to be happy. 

Don’t think I haven’t considered alternatives, either. Which, for example, among my various hobbies and pastimes could reasonably give me an income? I can construct and decorate models, but no-one gets rich doing that, and there are plenty better skilled at it than me. I can take a decent photograph, but if there ever was a cut-throat business photography since the dawn of inexpensive DSLRs is it.

So, some combination of those things? Well, I am good at the model photography, if I do say so myself. I put together a portfolio booklet last year, and posted it with a covering letter to various model railway magazine editors and publishers. I had one response, but no further contact. Being the reticent kind, I haven’t followed up as I should have, so another golden opportunity evaporated. 

I am still here on Square One. 

I simply don’t want to continue flogging the dead horse of the creative and design work. Yes, it’s what I know best, but I really have no wish to continue with it. It bores me, clients piss me off, and no-one pays me on time when I do get work. It’s a thoroughly dispiriting situation to be in, and I don’t really know where to go next.

I know you’re supposed to go and get the work. I know you are supposed to chase the opportunities, jump at every chance, never let a good opportunity pass. Sadly, I am so disillusioned with the whole thing I simply don’t want to any more. Effort expended is effort wasted, at least in my experience. Better to just sit here and watch the world pass me by, rather than struggle on doing something which isn’t really appreciated when it’s done.

My apologies for this most depressing post. It helps to get it out my system, though. Looking back, I managed to miss most of the good opportunities that came my way, and now I find myself conked out, on life’s scrap heap.

Still, something might happen. It can’t go on like this for much longer. You never know what’s round the next bend in the road. It’s why I have adopted the motto “onwards and sideways”, because that’s just what life is like right now.