Dilemmas and Dead Ends

Of late, I’ve been dipping my feet a little into the Editing end of things.

Yes. Editing with a capital E. Heh.

I’m mostly a writer, but given how I’ve been working in an editorial environment for a good few years, I believe I have gleaned enough relevant wisdom to take on some small editing projects.

So I have mustered some courage and had a go at the smattering of editing roles that have landed in my lap in recent times. Can’t 100% say that I’ve always handled them well, but I do think that I gave each of them my best shot.

What I’m here to talk about, actually, is a terribly upsetting predicament that unfortunately seems to be a recurring theme in my editorial dealings.

You might wonder what exactly I’m going on and on about, my dear Reader.

Well, it’s simply this: So many people out there seem to be unwilling to pay a decent fee for editing services. Well, writing services too. Probably just any form of editorial services, I guess.

Now, I know I need to tread a bit carefully here as I discuss this topic.

Generally, I don’t like to talk about my paid writing gigs because I don’t think it’s particularly professional to quote experiences I have with clients (or potential ones). However, I’d like to say a little bit of something here because I think it’s a point worth bringing up.

With no mention of specific names or incidents… dear Reader, please tell me…

How is it you can spend thousands on a single inanimate object (like a smartphone, for example) and yet stinge so much on remunerating your (quite literally) poor writer/editor?

A smartphone costs thousands because so much effort went into sourcing and assembling all those tiny electronic components that, when put together, can work magic and mysteriously connect you to the rest of the universe as found on the World Wide Web.

Well, now. Let’s take a moment to consider this, shall we?

Just as much effort goes into sorting out your words from your sentences, rearranging your sentences into intelligible paragraphs, and building your paragraphs into a compelling story.

In fact, I think it’s highly probable that there are so many more words in your manuscript that require processing than the number of parts that you find in your average digital device.

But it’s alright, I suppose. Go invest your resources into those items that quickly depreciate over time.

Words written have the potential to be immortalised. To earn you a far reaching good reputation that might result in the wise things you said being quoted for generations to come.

Oh, but you don’t care, do you, my dear Reader? Forgive my sarcasm. Perhaps it’s just a temporary bad season for me.

Well, anyway, in case you might have been wondering about the title of this post…

Here’s the dilemma: Should fees that I’ve quoted for above mentioned editing tasks be lowered for the sake of accommodating the (somewhat unreasonable) demands of potential clients? Or should I let dead ends run their course since it’s good to do your work with dignity and to be paid what you’re worth?

Hmm.

Let me know what you think. Although I can wager a guess already as it is.

In between

Dear Reader,

How is it like in your corner of the world today?

It’s Day #3 of the Restricted Movement Order here in Malaysia.

I am up early ahead of the rest of the family. Expressing breastmilk in a silicone collector as my youngest is not awake to nurse. Next in line for list of activities would be to put the cloth diapers into the washing machine and to gather the trash for my husband to take out when he goes out to get groceries.

Unlike many other families within the Klang Valley, we did not stock up food in anticipation of the Order. We only bought enough to last us for about a week during our last grocery run, and the week is almost up. Hence, I will need to plan meals very soon (within the next hour or so), and wake my husband to get to the stores as early as possible since we don’t know what stock levels are like in our neighbourhood stores yet.

From what I heard from a friend staying in another part of our city, it was crowded at the shops within their community. I certainly hope there won’t be too much of that where we are at.

I’ve generally always thought of where we live as being one of the quieter, less noticed part of Petaling Jaya. And yet, we kept hearing of Covid-19 cases in several nearby areas, giving us the notion that the virus is literally all around us. The most disturbing was the case of a preschool teacher who got it. This preschool had been opened recently at the mall where we normally go for our grocery shopping.

My husband only started taking this Covid-19 pandemic more seriously after he visited that mall on one of the days where they were still disinfecting the preschool and screening all shoppers seeking to enter the ground floor (where the preschool was located) for any signs for fever.

Now he finally wears a mask or brings a long a small bottle of hand sanitiser while he is out. He promptly cleans his hands upon his return from a trip out, and changes his clothes. There was an occasion where he even decided to bathe right away.

For our household, things aren’t too different during this Order than they are at regular times. This is because my husband and I are both self employed at the moment. A situation at work worsened around the time our youngest was about to be born, and so he left his full time job and has been in limbo since.

At the time the Order was issued by our Prime Minister, he had already begun taking on projects for this new consultancy gig he has embarked on. There had been relatively positive signs lately, and several possible work projects have been popping up.

On my end, my freelance writing work was finally beginning to settle into a routine after the abnormal activity I had over the past few months where I was serving a new client in a temporary role that ended in February.

Now everything is more or less slowing down due to the Order. We are wondering if we will get paid on time. Or whether there will be multiple delays and even a lack of work opportunities in the near future.

I know there are families out there with an even bleaker outlook to their household income sources than we have. Some cannot even work at all right now because their jobs require them to be out, or to be meeting people. There is no Work-At-Home option for them. I wonder how they will cope.

It’s only supposed to be a 2 week exercise, but my husband and I anticipate that this Order will be extended beyond just a fortnight. As it is, with the way many Malaysians are behaving, we might even see a far greater spike in Covid-19 cases. The thought is chilling.

I think of my two very young kids and I worry. They are happy with us at home at the moment. But will we be able to keep them happy and well once our funds run too low? Can we continue to afford preschool for our eldest one?

And what sort of world will they be growing up in, given the terrible turn of events that we keep seeing both on a local as well as global scale? I sometimes wonder if it would have been kinder to have not introduced them to this cruel, cold world.

But as I tried telling my husband last night, perhaps the best thing to do at times like this is to just keep looking ahead. To just keep focussing on the very next step. Because I think that’s all we have the capacity to do right now.

It’s daybreak now and I must go. I hope things are brighter where you are, my dear Reader. Till I return, I wish you a good day.

Measure of days

My two sons within arm’s reach.

Here I am sitting in a parked car at McD’s with the engine on. My two sons are asleep in the backseat, and so is my husband, who is in the driver’s seat.

Meanwhile, I am savouring whatever remains of my very late lunch.

It is 4.27pm.

Such has been our family’s lifestyle of late.

We have not been eating at regular times. We eat whenever everyone becomes hungry. During the meals where we cook, we get to eat whenever we manage to finish getting the food prepared. Which is often late too.

These days, my husband is at home with us every day. He decided to quit his job abruptly, just before our second son was born. It was not an ideal choice. And it was certainly not the best season for our family to have this happening either.

But this he did, and of course, having discussed it with me beforehand. I metaphorically grit my teeth back then, saying it would be better he left his difficult situation at work than to be stressed out managing work challenges at a time such as this.

Anyway, here we are. He has been without work for the past 3 months or so.

It’s an ongoing worry on our heads, no doubt.

I ended my self declared maternity leave prematurely just to ensure we could get some extra income from a job opportunity that came up. This is not what I would have liked, as I had wanted to be able to focus my attention on just loving the boys and being available to them at this time without the complications of dividing myself between work and them.

But what needs to be done needs to be done. And even with this going on, we still are not making up for my husband’s loss of income.

We have some money to keep afloat for now, but it will not be for long. We still have not yet worked out a concrete plan for the next few months.

So far, bills are still able to be paid. But will we reach a point where we fail to? God only knows.

There isn’t much that gets done every day, even with both of us adults at home. Most times, it’s just about getting the minimal amount of chores done, meals cooked and keeping the kids alive through those daily routines of baths, naps, etc.

On the surface, I guess you could say there is nothing at all magical about our day-to-day affairs.

I don’t know how to put it without sounding too whimsical or unrealistically optimistic, but somehow to me these days are special.

Every day is a countdown to a reality which I will eventually have to face one day: That my boys will grow up and go about their own lives, probably apart from me.

And until that day comes, I cherish every one of these seemingly ordinary days. Each with their own share of chaos and their own sparkle of tiny battles and victories. Laughter and memories.

I also especially treasure the fact that my husband is present 24/7 for the boys at this time too.

I don’t know how to make this last, but if I can, I want it to.

I’d like the whole family together. And I hope we can find a way to make this work, yet to have everyone happy too while also not dying of poverty.

I’ll tell this story if you will listen.

And I’ll look forward to (as I hope you will) that happy ending that is just around the bend. Fingers crossed.

Oh no!

Ah, it’s been too long since I last blogged.

We are now a family of 4.

My self-declared maternity break ended early (booOoo ☹️).

Hubs is home, every day, 24/7 for the time being, thanks to leaving behind a difficult job situation.

Eldest son has completed a year of preschool.

Friendships: As before, unexpected kindness and companionship from those I didn’t think much of, and growing distances from some I used to consider close friends.

Nanowrimo 2019: Made a feeble attempt. Unsurprisingly, failed. Again. Yay. Another dark mark on another November.

The upcoming year (2020) is full of uncertainties.

Yes, that is the summary of life in the present.

Plenty to blog about, isn’t it? I’ll be back, hopefully soon-ish, once I figure out what’s worth writing about, and in what order. Tsk.

Merdeka

Happy Merdeka morning! 🙂

Morning is just breaking over here, and it’s Hari Kebangsaan (National Independence Day) today. I’ve been up pretty early though (thanks to lovely pregnancy hormones).

I guess it’s easy to take for granted what freedom and independence means when it seems to come so effortlessly to us today. Especially generations like mine who never had to struggle with the shackles of colonisation and who have a lot of room in which to voice our concerns and criticisms publicly these days.

Granted, things are really far from perfect here in a third world country like ours (as much as we’d like to fancy that we’re a first world one by now, which we certainly aren’t). But for those whom God has placed here, there is surely a purpose for us being here. And I believe we ought to be thankful and make the most of all that we’ve been given.

Every time I think about the topic of patriotism, I cannot help but recall all the many times in the past that friends and loved ones have made the exodus out of this nation, leaving me behind. Of course, I wish them well, but it is an awfully lousy feeling to be the one who stays while another moves on to newer, more exciting adventures.

This began happening even back in our student days, because, well, let’s face it, there are so many better places to be in around the world than in Malaysia. It’s sad but true.

But I am still here. For now. Maybe for the rest of my days? Or at least until God moves us somewhere, whether we like it or not.

So I am grateful for the freedom we have here. And of course, always remembering that our true liberty lies not in a pristine constitution or leaders that are larger than life, but in a life held together by a sovereign God who loves us and knows what’s best of us.

Lord, thank You for Malaysia and all that has happened on our precious soil this past year; all the good and all the bad too. Please help us to never take for granted Your gracious hand upon our nation. May we always endeavour to have Your name glorified in this land. Please take control of all that takes place here. Bless our country, Lord, that we may prosper and shine for You. And thank You that You have placed me and my family here, come what may. In Jesus’ name, amen.