because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Monday, 16 February 2015

How It Feels To Build The Life Of Your Dreams

Laura Jane Williams

All I have ever wanted is what I have right now: to make money doing something I love, somewhere beautiful.

And that’s… that’s everything.

Seven weeks into the year – seven weeks since I got on a flight into my future – and I am slowly coming to understand that nobody is about to tap me on the shoulder to tell me okay, that’s enough. Time for reality, now.

This is my reality.

What’s more, it’s a reality I built. On purpose. Deliberately. I worked for this.

And I don’t have to be shy about that. 

I wrote for seven years, mostly unpaid, before I was able to make writing my primary source of income.

For seven years I told stories, worked to find my most authentic voice, read everything and everyone that inspired me to be better so that I might be a little more like them, whilst still being me.

Seven years of what must run into millions of words. Drafts, copies, so much deletedeletedelete and then even more re-write-re-write-re-write. A writing degree (that mostly taught me what I didn’t want to do), disregarded manuscripts, rejection letters, glimmers of success in tiny morsels. I’ve gone through boxes of red pens, use them as I do for correcting my many, many, mistakes.

And now, in the year I turn 29, it’s all beginning to pay off. Between my freelance writing and #AskTheQuestion, I’m almost matching my London-PR-job salary of yesteryear, except with half the outgoings and exactly zero of the you-are-so-replaceable attitude.

I’m finally the boss of me.

I’m in Malaysia right now, with my family, on the vacation that was the whole reason I had a ticket booked to this part of the world in the first place. And at breakfast, Dad said, So, can you tell us, start to finish, exactly what’s going on with you?

And so I did. I said how I write stories on this blog every Monday, for 30,000 readers a month, and send out a newsletter about it to 1,000 people each week. I told him how I Tweet about the things that interest me, that I tell the people who follow me about other stuff they might like – not just about my stuff. Because that’s nice. Because I don’t want to write in a vacuum. Because I want to contribute to a bigger conversation than only what I say. I want to listen, too.

I told him how brands reach out to me, now, for sponsored content, but I say no because this is a writing blog and nothing else. That I might run advertising soon, but only with small businesses I genuinely want to support. I told him that I am in love with writing for Thought Catalog, because their ethos is entirely in line with my own – that everyone deserves a voice. I explained that after all this time, enough people like what I do that they signed up to a program I created via email, and it’s a project that makes my heart sing in my excitement for it.

I told him that life simply cannot go on until I have finished the book I am writing, and that I believe, I know, the book will be published and it will help people to be less lonely because in writing it, I feel less lonely.

I want to help.

I want to be a part of something.

I told him I have asked my accountant how to start a small non-profit fund, so that as my business grows I can build charity into my portfolio, because I have an idea about ways to talk about sexual consent in schools, and I want to give back before I can afford to because otherwise I’ll never find a way to afford it.

I told him that it sounds funny, to me, to say “the business I am building”, but… I am. I’m building myself as a business, and I'm letting myself be really fucking proud of that.

“But… how did you come up with all this?” my mum asked. “How did you know what to do?”

I said to her, “I don’t know. I just… did what feels right. And finally, it’s working.”

The twelve, thirteen, fourteen hour days. The tears that come when I am in my room, alone, exhausted with not one atom more to give myself. The email that arrives to say, “Laura. Me too. Me too,” and I know it's not all for nothing. It's for something. A big something. The tech fails and endless Googling for answers. The needing help but being afraid to ask. The trails and errors. The tenacity of it all. 

How did I know what to do? Well. That’s the most bittersweet thing of all, because that’s exactly it: I did it alone! Me! Just me! I'm figuring it out as I go along!

But then.

As ever.

I'm doing it alone.

Me.

Just me.

And it makes me wonder. It makes me think that maybe you can't have it all. 

I hope you can.

I hope I can.

I hope he's on his way.

I hope he's proud of what I'm building, too. 



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