I’ve always liked that word.
Probably because in the movie Tomb Raider (2001) Lara Craft visits someone who can help her with a mysterious clock. This cunning villain then introduces himself merely as a lawyer, at which Lara replies with a dry British accent:
“And the study of clocks is… a hobby?”
In a similar manner Catherine Tramell, the femme fatale of Basic Instinct, gives new meaning to the word “amateur”, when she is asked if she’s “a pro”, meaning a sex worker.
“No, I’m an amateur.”
Both dialogues toy with the idea that there’s a fine line between a hobby and a profession. And that whether you use your skill or knowledge as a means of income is not determined by your level of mastery.
It’s a choice.
And a choice that has been pulling my life in opposite directions for a very long time. Maybe even over a decade, ever since I started writing.
And ultimately resulting in a moderate chaos and an emotional roller coaster, over the past few weeks.
But it started five weeks ago with a firm choice!
Choose writing; blog every day. Teach yoga by night (unchanged).
I was really aiming at getting an income through writing within a year.
I chose my topic (being a mistress); I chose my market (English speaking or reading); and I chose the most logical option for distribution, which was to investigate which Dutch publishers were active on English markets. I sent messages to writers I had met over the years, to ask them if they could recommend publishers or agents.
It all seemed to be going fine, but then pretty recently I had some serious stuff going on behind the scenes, which meant that this choice was no longer an option. I didn’t have a year and needed to get a full income asap.
Which brought me to:
Get full income; get job. Cancel all yoga classes.
I would continue to write and publish on weekends.
Then someone informed me on how much (or how little) I would probably make with the work I aspired to do. I quickly realized quitting teaching yoga before I even had a new job (whatever that was going to be) was unwise.
Especially if it didn’t cover my current expenses and I would need a side hustle to supplement it.
So I toned the decision down to:
Get a job. Curate yoga classes.
I reorganized my yoga classes by cancelling two successful classes as of this summer, because the lease contract of that location was per year and only for a fixed time slot. When I also had my own studio a few miles further down, where I was way more flexibel.
I also informed all my students that we’d go underground (no public classes anymore) and that I would sustain our current schedule as much as I could. New schedules would be sent out every two months.
These fairly simple changes created so much space in my head. I immediately knew they were right. And yet, the moment I started thinking about how the slimmed down studio would look like with a job, I saw that peaceful schedule turn into total mayhem.
Even if I would find a job for exactly the number of hours I had available (next to teaching yoga) in order to have a 40 hour work week, I freaked out.
There was no space. No fun. No spontaneity. There was absolutely nothing to write about in terms of doing things worth writing about.
But also; no space to think.
Over the years I ve come to realize that it is not writing that is my lifeline. Or even if it is, that writing is preceded by the real thing which has made life so sweet.
In the form of sitting down and journaling or planning. But also thinking when I’m folding laundry, going for a walk, or even watching tv. Thinking is super explicit when I m with friends and we mine through a topic, until its deepest layers are uncovered.
It’s this thinking, that is my gold when it comes to writing.
Well this, and Mr.Big my secret lover, who ensures I can write about sex once in a while.
But with a full schedule, split between a new job and teaching yoga, it was this lack of time to think, to talk, to digest and rearrange life in my head, that scared me.
I m not going to say I can’t live without the luxury of time. I m sure I can.
But what I m saying is:
I realized I wasn’t ready to give it up.
Not without a fight.
Also, the behind the scenes thing I mentioned, had turned around.
Within one week my entire financial situation had changed 180 degrees for the better.
I suddenly had the means to pursue a career that wouldn’t immediately make money. In theory I could even go back to plan A; to become a writer.
Except I no longer wanted that.
Reorganizing my yoga studio had sparked my enthusiasm for my current profession. And I know this is going to sound so weird! But I saw an opportunity to become a fulltime yoga teacher again.
Fulltime meaning, that if I don’t teach, I work on my yoga book, my marketing, and so on. But I work for the studio for 40 hours a week.
Over the years I’ve started treating my writing professionally, but this has been at the expense of the yoga studio. I also had less to do, there are fewer classes than five years ago. But I have no idea how the yoga studio would be doing, if I was still giving it my all.
Without holding back.
If I would work my yoga studio with the same excitement I had fifteen years ago, and with the same commitment I would have for a new job, what would happen?!
I wanted that question answered.
And the reorganization of the yoga studio had worked miracles for my self-esteem. Being a successful yoga teacher became just as appealing as being a successful writer. And it was way more within reach.
I was being offered a fresh start.
There would be so many writers who would have chosen “Writing” here and not their old business. They would have recommitted to daily writing, just like I did five weeks ago.
And I understand that. And I applaud that.
But after weeks of moving around the different chunks of time of my imaginary future planning – making money, curating classes, thinking, doing interesting things to write about, writing, publishing my books – not having to juggle and only being a yoga teacher and hobby writer, sounds so appealing.
It’s definitely a Hell Yes!!
I’m not going to put a finite plan or date to it. I know myself, it could shift around a bit. But my first plan is to start the underground yoga studio July first – for current clients and other former members.
My second plan is to go big on the private classes. They will be the only thing I offer on my website, business cards and in personal conversations.
The review date is set at the end of the year. Then I ll see if my new yoga studio is bringing me everything I hoped for.
If so, yay!
And if no?
Then I tried, failed, and will be ready for something new.
And more importantly: ready to sacrifice the rest.
An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living
My diaries are available at LULU
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No, I’m an amateur