One year ago today, I took the very last class of my undergraduate career.
Holy shit. I can’t even. It’s been a year. It has been a crazy year.
When I finished school, I had no job, but I had some money still saved up. Enough to last me a few months — maybe 4 or 6 if I was very careful with it. And I made a decision, then, a decision like the one I made when I went to university in the first place: I am going to do whatever it takes to make this work. To do what it is I want to do with my life.
When I went to unversity, that was my choice of school and program: I wanted to take Creative Writing, because that’s what I wanted to do with my life. Guaranteed life of poverty notwithstanding — I wasn’t about to take some other program that could promise me a lucrative job just because I could. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I’ve always been a firm believer in the whole “do something you love as your job and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” idea. I’m not the kind of guy content to work 9-5 doing whatever just for the money so I can enjoy life in the off-hours.
So it was when I finished university. I decided that because I had a little money saved up, I could afford to take a chance at this thing I wanted to do. I would spend the next few months writing and trying to get some kind of paying gig doing what I love to do, get published, whatever. If I couldn’t do it, then so be it, I could go and work at Starbucks for a while and write on the side if that’s what it took — but I wanted to try.
I had no idea what was going to become of me. I had absolutely no conception of what I might be doing in six months, and that scared the shit out of me. I’ve always known what my life is going to be like, I’ve always had assurances and a plan. Not so this time.
And so began my year of What the Hell Am I Doing? I went to New York City with my mom as a post-graduation trip, and while there met a few of the contacts I’d made online in transmedia. I launched the first iteration of Azrael’s Stop. I continued both my blogs, and I wrote. I landed a contract for a short story. I had an essay published in the Globe and Mail. And then I landed my first client as a transmedia consultant and writer.
It was a small gig, only a few hours a week and not a ton of pay, but it was a start. And it let me survive for a bit longer without a “real” job.
I didn’t let myself rest. I applied for Merging Media’s lab with Anita Ondine and was accepted; I gladly laid down the money to do it, lack of money notwithstanding. That led to starting the Transmedia Vancouver Meetup group. I continued writing and working. Then in August, I flew out east — again, throwing money into this gamble of mine, however careful I was — to meet my client in person, and we turned our relationship into a partnership. I went to ARGFest in Indiana where I met a bunch more of the transmedia contacts I’d made over the months, and the guy who would become my second client.
And suddenly I was doing it.
By the fall, I was making enough money to actually survive on a month-to-month basis (if barely). Writing. Creating awesome transmedia worlds. Doing what I loved to do.
In October I went to the Merging Media conference and the StoryWorld conference, at each meeting more people, more great contacts, and more potential work opportunities. I’ve done a bit of work for other people as well, re-launched Azrael’s Stop, continued my successful meetup group (and as such participated in a meetup of international transmedia meetup group at StoryWorld, which was epic), had guest posts and interviews on several sites, and there’s more in the pipeline.
And, gods, that’s not even touching my roller coaster of a personal life this past year. Holy hell.
So yes, Jonathan Coulton, this year has been a little crazy for the Andersons, as it were. I feel like I’ve been kidnapped by robots to work on a distant asteroid. I still cannot comprehend all that has happened in the last year.
But yeah. If nothing else, know this: It can be done. I still can’t believe it, but it can be done.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think the robots sent me a pie.