LivingArts: Writing Your Own Script

It was often suggested to me that after finishing university, the next logical step was finding a full-time job with a good salary and benefits. With this expectation in mind, and student loan repayments looming, I set out on my search, though my main qualification was years spent working part-time in a record store.

That was 2001, and I’ve had a lot of different jobs since then. And actually, I’ve had a lot of different jobs this year. And not one of them has ever fit the Monday to Friday, 9-5 model, though our society revolves around it, and many prefer the reliability and repetition it affords. This schedule isn’t feasible for all businesses, industries, or people however, and many in our population work part-time, shifts, or like me, are self-employed independent contractors doing freelance work for various employers.

Turns out those who gave me post-university advice had little experience with careers in the creative arts, where ‘regular jobs’ exist but are not necessarily the norm. Leaving school with a Fine Arts degree (Film & Video/English), I began working with a brilliant editor on a TV reality show about a traveling circus and its performers. I learned a ton about storytelling and technique from the wonderful Michèle Hozer during these few months, for which I owe an eternal debt of gratitude. More than editing lessons though, I gained a profound understanding of juggling – and not just from the circus’s clown act. Besides winning an Emmy and multiple Geminis, Michèle is a woman, wife, mom, and business owner actively making the life she wants for herself. This was a huge inspiration to me at the time, and remains so today.

Fast forward a few years, a number of television series later, and I found myself working on a very silly show, editing in an office with lots of drama. The content was not inspiring, and the atmosphere so uncomfortable, that I couldn’t figure out how to get it together and was ultimately fired from my position. Looking back, I think of this as a major turning point – I’d met a lot of great people through television work, but the shows were not creatively fulfilling for me and I decided I wanted more.

Today I’m a great juggler, keeping many balls in the air. I love the unpredictability and non-traditional schedule - each day is different, sometimes working on several things to satisfy deadlines. I still edit for smaller clients – but now mostly from home. I’m a filmmaker and artist working on my own projects, as well as teaching visual and media arts for some great organizations. I just finished three months filling in as Arts Administrator at the Factory Media Centre. And I’m regularly paid for writing work, and for print design. Perhaps it’s actually becoming more of a balancing act.

Making a living from these small contracts is sometimes stressful, but my work has meaning, and gives me a lot of personal satisfaction. And, I can often arrange my schedule around my son’s school trips or dentist appointments, which is very refreshing. Though I found myself in the wrong story for a while, I eventually decided to write a new chapter – and I’ve never regretted it for a second.