Friday, June 05, 2015

Musings on day 3 of a new life

My thanks to Noric for this cartoon.

As kvd surmised following my Wednesday post, Transitions - musings on Chalmers Street, I have finished my current contract work. What began as a short term contract just kept extending for almost three and a half years.

There was a certain degree of difficulty towards the end. As a short term contractor, you have an assignment to complete. When the contract extends and extends, you effectively become another staff member. My previous senior experience made it easy to identify problems and to define possible solutions. My relatively junior status in the agency made it almost impossible  to do anything about them. That ultimately became very frustrating.

The job was very useful in providing the income I needed to live and to support my writing addiction. Now
having jumped quite suddenly into the unknown and without a safety net,  I face a new challenge.

This is the cover that Clare (youngest) has created for her new book. Last night over takeaway we talked about our respective plans.

Clare is, I think, more targeted than I am at the moment. Both of us, to go back to Noric's cartoon, need deadlines.

Clare asked me what I wanted to do.

I told her that I didn't want to go back to what I had been doing. The contract that was meant to support my writing and other objectives became a job that in turn became an end in itself. Other things including writing had to be fitted in.

The job also became limiting at two levels. One was the censorship I had to impose on some of the things that I might have wanted to write about. The second was the progressive diminution in certain of my skills.

I wasn't conscious of the second at first. However, when you constantly have to work at the level required as compared  to the level you know to be possible,  skill erosion is almost inevitable.

I first became really aware of this twelve months ago when I discussed with my agency the possibility of again targeting higher level jobs where I might actually be able to achieve real change. I accepted that there was a price here, for it would further constrain my ability to pursue other objectives including my writing. The agency's advice was that higher level targeting might be difficult because all my recent experience had been at the lower level.

There was a certain irony here, for when I first started looking for contracting work, my senior level CV scared the living daylights out of prospective managers. Again, I didn't realise this at first. After six months of multiple failures to land assignments and an increasing cash flow crisis, I sent the CV to people that I knew and asked for feedback. A senior public sector manager came back with advice that with that CV I was never going to get contract work at the levels I was seeking. I should either dumb down the CV or go for higher level assignments. I chose the first on purely practical grounds..

For fairly obvious reasons, all this has caused considerable thought. In answering Clare's question, I also said to her. that I still felt the need to contribute, that I was tired of trying to be what I wasn't, that I really must deliver on my primary writing targets and that, most of all, I wanted to have some fun.

I'm not sure that this cogitation will lead to major visible changes on this blog. You can tell me that in a few months' time. But it does mean that I am freer to pursue things than I was. In ending, it's interesting if a bit nerve wracking to be again flying without a safety net.              



Anonymous said...

Jim, all the best with your next assignment(s) in your 'new life'. In fulfilling this purpose, I wish you to find and enjoy the fun you deserve.


Jim Belshaw said...

That's a very nice comment, DG. My thanks. No doubt I will report progress from time to time!

John Stitch said...

Very brave of you Jim but how do you pay your rent with no income. Correct me if I am wrong but I read somewhere on this blog you were renting.

Jim Belshaw said...

Very perceptive, John. I do rent and I live in Sydney. I have no independent means, so there is a real challenge. I was talking about this lunchtime with a friend. I have ideas. Are they realistic, what compromises do I have to make? What happens if I simply run out of cash before other things are in place? All challenges.