The first in our “Be Brave, Hire Yourself” series of blog posts written by those who know what it takes to make a living from their own ideas.
IC | IC coworking member Paige Nick shares how she became a published author, award-winning copywriter and an inspiration to all those creatives who are considering hiring themselves.
You can purchase her latest book “A girl walks into a bar” in 21 different countries or simply online; Here. Make sure you bookmark her blog and follow her on twitter @paigen.
The @ideascartel team.
Because I was never going to be a rocket scientist.
People often ask why I chose to be a writer.
But it wasn’t like that. You know those raggedy-ass stray cats with mange, and their ribcages sticking out, who pitch up on your doorstep one rainy night and decide they’re going to be your owner and then you’re stuck with them for life, but in a good way? Well for me it was kind of like that. Writing chose me more than I chose it.
I don’t have the figure to be a stripper. I’m scared of heights so I couldn’t be an astronaut, and if you saw me you’d know why I couldn’t be a ballerina.
I also wasn’t particularly good at school. Maths was always a mystery to me. Sometimes in class there would be a split-second where I felt like I got theorems or quadrangles or fractions, a flash of understanding, but it was always as permanent as a flickering florescent bulb. To this day, I still don’t know my times tables.
In fact, I scraped through just about all my school subjects, even English, which I enjoyed. The classrooms in my school had great views, can I blame it on that? Although I suspect if I’d spent as much time studying as I did making colour-coded studying schedules, I might have done marginally better.
I could however always come up with an alibi (lie) on the spot, and I day-dreamed and was very loskop, which in the late eighties and early nineties, teachers and parents translated into being ‘creative’.
But this is getting boring, so let’s skip to the action. I’d always been nuts about advertising and I’d always, always wanted to write – definitely a book, but that felt scary and hard, so I banked it for later. Advertising seemed a fun, glamorous and exciting thing for a wannabe writer to do. So I went to AAA ad school for a year, then blundered into my first job at eighteen, at TBWA Hunt Lascaris Cape Town after a month as an intern there, and then never looked back.
Cut forward about 19 years to 2013. I was a successful, well-awarded, senior (read old) copywriter at top SA ad agency, King James. I’d also managed to churn out my first two novels, and lucked into a weekly column in the Sunday Times. And in a bizarre twist of fate and timing, had together with two incredible writer-friends, Sarah Lotz and Helen Moffett, signed an international book deal for a series of choose-your-own-adventure erotic novels, to be published in 21 countries. (The first one, A Girl Walks into a Bar, by Helena S. Paige, is out now, is it rude to ask you to please buy it?)
By this point, I’d already been putting the decision to go freelance off for two or three years, out of fear of the unknown and the terror of a missing salary every month, but it was finally time to ball-up and go it alone.
Sarah, Helen and I needed to co-write the three choose-your-own-adventure erotica books in ten months, and I also hoped to free up more time to meet my column deadlines. Also with 40 looming, I just couldn’t picture myself in ten year’s time as a 50-year old copywriter still sitting in an ad agency day and night, in and out, it’s a young person’s game.
The timing was also good because my art director and advertising life partner of eight years, Karin Barry-McCormack, was newly pregnant with twins she’d been wanting for a really long time, so it felt like the right time for us to go it alone. Alone, but together.
I’m running out of space now and starting to ramble, so I need to wrap up.
It’s been about nine months since we left the stability of a full-time agency job. I was and still am terrified, but the work is there, and then some, so hopefully the fear will fade as the months pass and be replaced by the growing sense of freedom, calm and happiness that currently pervades.
Karin and I still work together in advertising about four or five days a week, making ads for local and international clients, and the rest of the time I write the Helena S. Paige porn, the columns and hopefully a new book, that is if the muse will have me.
– Paige Nick
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