I came to Australia specifically to focus on writing, but I didn’t count on how freaking expensive it is to live here. And while I do have enough money to live, I don’t really have enough to have much fun.

So I applied for a job as a Medical Scientist in Biochemistry at a hospital in a suburb of Melbourne called West Footscray. And as luck would have it, I managed to find a place to live in West Footscray as well, not too far from the hospital. And yeah, the job would definitely take time away from my writing, but it ends in early September and would also give me a little extra money so I could afford to actually go out and do stuff, which would be nice.

Well, I didn’t get the job. Which means I moved out to West Footscray for absolutely no reason. But hey, at least the rent is cheap and my housemates are really, really cool. So it’s not all bad.

Also, I did get offered another job.

Back in China.

Yeah, I ended up mentioning to my old boss that I didn’t get the postdoc I’d originally applied for in Australia, so he talked to our collaborator from my most recent research project and they somehow arranged it in a way I don’t fully understand for me to have a job as a Research Scientist at Beijing Normal University.

Which would mark the first time in quite a while that the word “normal” would be associated with me in any way, but regardless it was pretty flattering. I asked if I could start in November at the earliest, since my parents have already booked their non-refundable tickets to come visit me over here from late September to late October, and they said that shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and no matter how I look at it I really don’t see what else I can do. If I get a job here in Australia, it defeats the whole purpose of coming here. But if I don’t work at all, I won’t be able to afford to have any fun, and I’ll be flat broke by the time I leave. If I must get a job, I’d rather do it in China, where I’ll be pretty much guaranteed to get more papers, and since they’re doubling my salary I’ll have plenty of money to have fun in Beijing. Plus I’ll be living downtown, which means I wouldn’t have to spend an hour standing on a subway to get anywhere interesting.

So now I have five months to become a commercially successful writer. Is this possible? Theoretically, yes. In his book on how he sold a million ebooks in five months, appropriately entitled How I sold a Million Ebooks in Five Months, John Locke explains how to, well, sell a million ebooks in five months.

Now that’s good advertizing right there.

A large part of his foolproof marketing scheme involves Twitter. I fucking hate Twitter. But I like money, so I signed up. It was just as bad as I expected. I started “following” other writers, which is like stalking but way less interesting, and I was immediately put off by all the blatant and incredibly lame self-promotion a lot of them were doing. (This is not, by the way, what John Locke encourages people to do.)

I quickly found that I could not take any of it seriously. Yes I want to sell my stories and make my living as a writer, but I just can’t bring myself to do a lot of the bullshit things people on Twitter are doing to promote their books.

And I don’t know why I’m doing this exactly, but more and more I’m finding my efforts turning into a parody of all the advice I’ve gotten so far. I honestly can’t bring myself to take it seriously, but it’s actually kind of fun to not take it seriously. I created a new blog (I now have four in total) to promote my writing and editing efforts, and I’m going to stick with Twitter because I actually have met some cool aspiring authors on there and if nothing else I got to fulfill my lifelong dream of using the phrase “penis goes there” in casual conversation, but I just can’t bring myself to be pushy or insincere.

But I do have a request to make of everyone reading this: if you have the time and inclination, go ahead and post random, funny, inappropriate, relevant, irrelevant, or meaningless comments on my other blog. The funnier or more random the better.

I do have my priorities, and it’s more important to me to have fun and (hopefully) entertain other people as well than to sell books at any cost.

Just in case you missed it, the link to my other blog is here:


About Critical Awesomeness
I'm a 32-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry and a green hat. Only one of these two things is really important.

6 Responses to priorities

  1. candidmentor says:

    Writing for success is a bumpy road. After university, I followed my curiosity to Europe and survived for 18 months before being drafted into a war-time Army. Back home, no one wanted my “creative writing,” so I wrote political speeches, articles for a labor newspaper, and then presentations for business. Finally, I started a city magazine and got to write a lot, but it was magazine journalism, not short stories or novels. I was 37 before I wrote my first novel, but I had been writing constantly since I was 21. You are writing, and that in itself is a goal. You are a writer because you write and complete your projects. No one awards that title. What about using your talent for journalism as a way to support yourself? As a magazine writer and editor, I learned a great deal and met many of the characters who turned up in my novels. Let your curiosity guide you. Be true to the literature that’s in you, and let the materialists go their own way.

  2. candidmentor says:

    Our daughter is the managing editor of The Physics Teacher Magazine. She makes physicists read like they got decent grades in English when they write articles. Editing scientific papers is thus a nobel occupation. I’m going to tell a blog story soon about being William Faulkner’s shill at his public readings. Why don’t you keep a journal of the characters you meet, famous or not, for future writing reference? I kept a very slim journal of my days as a third cook on a Norwegian coal freighter, age 16. No famous people there. Forty years later, I used the journal as a springboard to write “Boy At Sea”, a somewhat fictionalized account of the journey. The book is yet unpublished, but it was entirely worth the effort. Stay well and fit. Consider writing as a long-haul project.

    • I’ve been keeping a journal since I was 16 as well, actually. No coal freighters though. You really have had some incredible experiences, and it’s great that you’ve turned them into a book so many years later. Maybe I can follow in your footsteps 🙂

  3. candidmentor says:

    My footprints come from an age that is very different from the one that you will travel. Where I have been, you cannot go. Where you will go, I cannot follow. You are unique and at the same time you are part of me and everyone who you meet. The way is richer if you show compassion in those encounters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: