Tuesday, June 24, 2003

the reluctant businessman

Honestly, I thought I'd be writing for a living. When I was growing up, my answer to the inevitable "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was "I want to be a writer".

I'd long accepted the fact that I'd never be rich and held to the notion that doing something I loved would be enough. Of course, at that time, I had no idea how to make money from writing. I did not want to be advertising (because, somehow, that was selling out). I imagined I'd be publishing my own stuff and making a living from that.

After college, I looked for writing work - a TV show here, a couple of screenplays there, the odd concert or show, things that spoke of no cohesive plan or path. I could not make a living from what was, in effect, random, and instead opted to get "real" work to support myself and my wife.

But business never occurred to me. One of the reasons was that I was so poor in math. It was only later that I realized that while math is important, there are other equally vital aspects that I could actually do.

So jumping careers from HK back to Manila, I became part of a group of partners and set up our own company. We gave it our collective best and succeeded at some things, failed in others. But lessons were learned, contacts were made, and a degree of profit too. Pipe, as it ends operations at the end of the week, is in the black.

Next week, my new company, Kestrel IMC, becomes the carrier of my hopes for a better business. A narrower focus, a more flexi-agressive plan, an equal mix of cynicism, realism and fantasy, plus my evolved razzle-dazzle blah blah and all the competencies my partner and I managed to pick up.

Does it mean I'll succeed? No, of course not. But all these things mean that I'm better armed with a better plan with a better target. No guarantees, though. Like many things in life. If you fail, just try again.

Interestingly, I have almost (just almost) overcome my lifelong reluctance to conduct myself as a businessman. If I think of it in terms of story structure, then I can accept all stress and decisions I make everyday - because that is really much less than the thousand and one little decisions I make when I write a story: rhetoric, agenda, language, style, theme, character, dialogue, tone, structure and so on.

So, in an odd way, my propensity for writing has prepared me for an occupation I never thought I'd engage in.

But still, I dream of the day when I'll just write.

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