Job, schmob – I need a career…

POST #1: A lovely fresh croissant

A lovely fresh croissant – that’s really all I’m missing. Not in general; I mean at this specific moment in time. My location is a bit surreal. I’m actually in Bishop’s Stortford Public Library with my laptop, creating a blog whilst sipping a ‘venti cafe latte’. But I regret not buying a lovely fresh croissant to go with it. What on earth am I doing here at 9am on a Saturday morning? Well, you see, it’s like this…

Marjana, my wife, is a teacher. A very good one, as it happens – though I would say that – here in Bishop’s Stortford. Not having learned to drive yet (we’re working on it) I’m being a good little husband and driving her to school on Saturday mornings from our home in Northwest London. Yes, it’s one of those six-day week schools. I went to one myself and, strangely, I’m not as resentful about it as one might think. So anyway, while Marjana is musically shaping the minds of the future until midday, I’m sitting here in the library – croissant-less but caffeined up after our 7:15am start – filling my time with iPhone apps…and job apps.

You see, my wife has a career. She trained for it through university and beyond, and is doing exactly what she trained for. I, on the other hand, am careerless. That’s not to say jobless, of course. Oh, I have one of those – always have had. The trouble is, it’s been the same job now for over nine years…and it’s a job, not a career. In my book, a career is something you want to do day in, day out (assuming you haven’t won the lottery or are independently wealthy by some other means) and not somewhere where you go during the week and think “how did it come to this?” almost every day.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful. When I first got the job as a television subtitler back in 2000, I was very excited about it. I was using my editing background, I was in the fast-moving broadcast industry, plus I was doing something vaguely altruistic (or at least helpful) for the deaf community. But now, somehow, over time, when I am subtitling what I can only refer to as the arse of programming with toxic eye-garbage like Jeremy Kyle polluting our living rooms on a daily basis (rather than something cultural and enlightening like the South Bank Show, which I did in my first week at work) my enthusiasm has waned somewhat. I honestly think I’m better than this. Not just me – most of my colleagues are too.

I don’t presume to know that they’re all as unhappy as I am at work. In fact, I’m sure a lot of them aren’t. But it’s also a highly creative office where we have a number of published authors and various other intellectuals and experts, all doing what they really want to do on the side while the subtitling job pays the bills. And I’m in that category too.

So what am I doing about it? Well, I’m applying for lots of jobs (sorry, careers) while freelancing as a copywriter, editor and proofreader. But what do I really want to do? What do I want my career to be? I’m good with words, I know that much. (Go on, find a typo in here, I dair you.) So it seems logical that I should do something related to that for a living. That is, of course, assuming that my musical career is doomed to failure. More on that later.

For now, though, I will sit back and admire my first post on my shiny new blog, safe in the knowledge that I couldn’t career less.


October 17, 2009 - Posted by | The big opener | , , , , ,


  1. Heh.. welcome to my world Ash.. welcome to my world.
    5 years of undergraduate Biological Science degree with a molecular biol stream.. followed by 1 year honours in molecular biology, and THEN a 4 year PhD in Molecular and microbiology focusing on a bacteria that has the potential to kill you in 24 hours by septicaemia…. and what do I do now? knit orchids that vaguely resemble women’s naughty bits. go figure.

    Comment by Noel | November 8, 2009 | Reply

    • Don’t underestimate how much your comedy knitting amuses us all, Noel! But yes, you clearly know where I’m coming from. I imagine that you hadn’t quite envisaged doing more knitting than microbiology when you were slogging away at your PhD…

      Comment by Ashley Morrison | November 9, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi Ashley,

    I saw your post on Linkedin and decided to click on over to check out your blog. Like you, I have just a “job” that didn’t make me want to jump out of bed this morning when my alarm clock sounded. Funny enough, my dream career is to be a freelance copyeditor or proofreader. I’m still learning and several months, maybe even years, from giving up my day job, but that is alright with me. At least I know what my dream is and I am working towards it. I am not walking around like a depressed zombie complaining to anyone who crosses my path about how bad my life sucks. My long winded point is that at least we are able to recognize our unhappiness and have the courage to do something about it. Keep up your blog…Shanna

    Comment by Shanna | November 10, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Shanna,
      I must say, I’m very impressed. Why? Well, I had a bet with myself that nobody on LinkedIn (who is not also my friend, colleague, boss or some other acquaintance) would bother to click on my link and read my blog. So thank you for proving me wrong in all my worldly cynicism. And not only did you read it, but it interested you enough that you wanted to comment on it! So, yay me for writing something interesting enough to warrant that, and yay you for being generous with your time and opinions. Thank you.

      I’d be interested to know how you would gauge whether or not you have become successful as a freelance copywriter. Would it, for example, entail having so much work on the go or being offered to you that you have to turn clients away? I’m nowhere near in that position yet, but I’m lucky, I suppose that my one initial droplet of success is turning (slowly) into a trickle. Two clients so far, plus two more probables in the near future. That’s not bad for six months’ effort, I guess. But I think perhaps I want more stability than that at the moment. Perhaps that’s because I’ve only once felt what I would broadly call satisfied at work, and that only lasted a couple of years. Given that I’ve been working for 12 years now, that’s a lot of time to feel dissatisfied. Part of the problem, I think, is that I don’t know precisely what I want to do. I want to write, write, write, yes, but you can’t apply for jobs with such a waffly idea as that…

      Thanks again, Shanna. Keep trying!

      Comment by Ashley Morrison | November 10, 2009 | Reply

  3. You’re eating and drinking in a public library? The shame of it.

    Comment by Andrew Davidson | November 12, 2009 | Reply

    • Well, no – otherwise I wouldn’t be lamenting the fact that I did not have a lovely fresh croissant to go with my latte! Mind you, I would argue that me quietly sipping a coffee in the corner is rather less distracting than the mightily officious assistant who felt the need to help people with their enquiries in a piercing voice equivalent to a billion hungry mosquitos at a blood donor convention.

      Comment by Ashley Morrison | November 12, 2009 | Reply

  4. Oh! Ashley.
    Having just taken the plunge into “careerlessness” myself, I feel your pain. One of the saddest days of my life was when I realized that my dream job was insufficient and empty. Wise or not, I recently quit my career to pursue swelling passions like writing, fine chocolate, and a new direction within aviation. After reading your post, however, I am trying to stave off jealousy as I endured such trials in a lesser city than London.

    Comment by Fawn | November 13, 2009 | Reply

    • Don’t be too jealous, Fawn. You know the old saying, the grass is always greener… I see from your own blog that you’ve started writing a novel; I wish I had enough of an idea to do that. Or maybe it’s to do with the fact that I have the attention span of… Oooh, look something shiny!

      Comment by Ashley Morrison | November 14, 2009 | Reply

      • Funny to hear you call my “project” a novel. It will be more of a collection of short stories–because I too … well, let’s just say, love shiny things!

        Comment by Fawn | November 16, 2009

      • Ah, yes, short stories – definitely the way forward for those of us writers with limited attention spans! I’ve written a whole ton of them myself. I might put them on here eventually, in fact. Just to mix it up a bit and not concentrate on how careerless I am (although the blog title does give it away a bit, admittedly!)

        Comment by Ashley Morrison | November 16, 2009

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