January 25, 2021

I have an idea: WFH digital coworking space

Hello! I have an idea. It's been such a difficult, isolating year for so many people, and I wonder if a drop-in digital coworking space would be an interesting idea to explore.

Initially I'd thought about logging onto YouTube for a daily lunchtime livestream, but I wonder if that idea could be expanded to something more community-driven, something along the lines of an online co-working space where anyone working from home could work... but, online, "around" other people. There are so many "study with me" videos on YouTube that perform so well -- and I've noticed there's been a recent uptick in "writealong" livestreams in the writers' community. I've always worked in media, so that's the work environment I'm most familiar with. I think the concept of an online coworking space / wfh with me could work well for writers and digital media people -- maybe there's a way to stitch breaks or some kind of recurring downtime, collaborative brainstorming, interactive career development sessions, or other programming into the day. I wonder if something like this would appeal to both freelancers as well as people who are on staff at publishing companies. Anyhoo, just throwing this idea out there because I've been thinking about it for a few weeks.

January 09, 2021

Cultivating a morning routine


One week into the new work year and I'm starting to nail down (and enjoy!) my new remote-WFH morning routine. The first few days I felt a bit anxious because of the chasmic eight-hour time difference between Oxford and Hong Kong, but no emergencies yet (knock on wood). It's important to me to get to a point where my work day does overlap with the Hong Kong office by at least two hours, so I'm going to continue refining my routine so I'm ready to be fully into my work day by 8 a.m. GMT. 

I've also decided to shift my focus in 2021 to self-improvement and self-awareness, something I think I need to check in on in my mid-life years. To that (selfish) end, I talked to a bunch of life coaches and mental health professionals to find out what their best tips are, and published these listicles on the Tatler Hong Kong site, just in case they can be of help to anyone else!

January 03, 2021

I'm a squirrel

One of the most surreal/weird things about being a writer/editor and working in media (or as a "content creator" as the kids call it these days) is that every work day for the past two decades, I've woken up in the morning, dumped the contents of my brain onto the web or onto paper, hit "publish," and then... those ideas, words, images, and videos are just out there. Like, in the world.

There's a lot to unpack here, like the responsibility of having a platform and all that (I'm looking at you, media outlets, humans, and clickbait websites that put irresponsible information out there into the world that encourages people to make badly-informed decisions that could impact their own health and lives and the health and lives of people in their communities). For readers and content consumers, I'd encourage you to read broadly, look with your eyes, consider science, think critically, and develop at least some basic media literacy. In the fictional but wise words of Patrick Melrose's very terrible father: "Observe everything. Always think for yourself. Never let other people make important decisions for you." 

But I don't really want to talk about that today. Today I'm thinking about fiction writing. I've never fiction-written in any meaningful way, not even in school. In college I tested out of freshman writing and was placed directly into a freshman (writing) seminar, which I tried to plead out of, asking the college to place me back in freshman writing because even though I'm a really good standardized test-taker, that didn't mean I was good at writing. That request was denied. So I found myself in a seminar about... Cold War spy literature. (What? I know.) It was a disaster. Coming out of a high school that placed overwhelming emphasis on its math and science curriculums, I was unprepared for expository essay writing and had retained almost nothing from history lessons on the Cold War. I barely scraped by in that spy lit class; in my assessment, the professor wrote that I should steer clear of English classes, especially writing, and... that was that. I was complete spooked and never took another college literature or writing class again.

Kind of ironic, then, that I've built a career on writing and editing. It's always been non-fiction, though. Until last week, when I decided to start a (little) personal fiction project of just a few thousand words, just for fun (and a potential learning experience). It feels super-weird, just making things up and writing them down, but also pretty cool, just making things up and writing them down. For the past 20 years, I've only written things down if they had already happened and/or were (probably) true (or "not untrue," ahem, early career at a tabloid newspaper). I'm definitely not good at fiction-writing, and I don't even know if I have the bug, although there's something about writing down whatever I feel like writing down and advancing a story however I want to, just through the act of typing, that feels thrilling. 

So yeah, I think that's all I have to say about that right now: that the biggest/smallest revelation I've had about fiction-writing as a very novice fiction-writer is that, right now, for me, fiction writing is: Making things up and writing them down. Which is a totally new experience. And somehow, after 20 years of writing-as-a-job, feels the same-yet-different and, also, a little bit exciting.