A little time with the theatre.

Apart from a bit role when I was eight, my relationship with the theatre has been one of admiration from afar; of wistful “if only”s from circles and stalls, and tickets that I can’t quite afford, but will buy anyway.

I never really thought very hard about a career in the theatre, but because I love stories, I’ve hovered in somewhat-related fields: first film, then journalism.

It was this love for stories that brought me back to the theatre. Traipsing around Singapore interviewing 50 theatre practitioners for Theatre Memories: 50 Years of Singapore Theatre was not strictly journalism, felt like a natural enough progression. Listening to the experiences of people like Ivan Heng and Siti Khalijah and Neo Swee Lin and Wong Souk Yee gave me a window into a rich, colourful world; a world of hard work, rejection and censorship, but also of passion, fun and a wonderful sense of community.

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A year of full-time freelancing

It’s been a little over a year since I set out to be a full-time freelancer. I first wrote about the experience five months in, and while I do still identify with what I wrote, I feel like I’ve learnt enough in the months’ since to warrant an update.

A part of me is kind of amazed I’m still standing, really. That this whole freelance journalist (plus occasional other roles) business has not only kept me fed, but has resulted in me finally (barely) earning enough to pay income tax this year. I’m sure the idea of being able to pay income tax is far more exciting than the actual act of forking the money over, but to be at this point at all seems a bloody miracle.

It still feels weird when people ask me for advice; I try to be helpful, but often feel like a newbie myself. There is so much that I’ve not figured out, and I am, so often, my own worse enemy.

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The bottom of the totem pole

A publication I’ve not heard of before, and they’ve written to me – a nice change from the endless pitching and often-never-hearing-back that is the life of a writer for hire. They’ve seen my work and they like it. They want me on board. But…

The position is unpaid. They’re new, or new-ish, and aren’t making a profit, you see. But they have passion, and goals, and plans.

I’m approaching my first year of full-time freelancing, and I’ve learnt that this happens often (or often enough). I’ve learnt that while some roles – doctors, corporate lawyers, bankers – are valued and well-compensated, other roles – like mine, and those of many of my friends in the arts and creative industries – are valued and barely compensated. There appears to be a belief that we who deal in words and lines and colours eat passion and conviction while others eat rice.

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