Sometimes all you need is to take a step back, breathe for a bit, and reassess the situation. I needed a break from writing, and now I’m getting back into it with renewed perspective. Now that I’ve returned to Toronto, my home, I feel focused, comfortable, and inspired. It’s time to put the past behind me and get back to work. I’ve come too far in my career to turn around and do something else, and it’s evident that I have at least a modicum of talent for writing, so it would be a waste to let it fall into neglect. The hiatus is over, and I am now back to business.
Living where I am it’s a hard to get focused on work because I don’t have a proper workspace setup. Here at my parents place I have to set up shop on the kitchen table in the morning. It’s always been my habit to go out in the afternoons to a cafe or library, but the nearest cafe or library from here is at least 30 minutes commuting, so I’m pretty much stuck here all day. Even still, I’ll have to make due because I need to make money somehow and freelance writing is how I make my living.
Concerning the search for a job teaching ESL in China, turns out it’s not as easy as I thought. A bachelor’s degree or better is not just something that the language schools prefer to see as a way of screening applicants; it’s actually part of the work visa requirements. I could enter on a business visa, but that’s illegal. Under a business visa I would basically have to lie to the customs agent when I enter the country telling them I’m consulting for some company and that I’m not being paid, but have my own savings to live on while in the country. You’re not allowed earning money in the country while on a business visa, so I would just be one visa-check away from ending up in jail for 30 days, fined, deported, and banned from reentering China for several years. That all represents a HUGE risk and I know there are some teachers who have done it, but I am not going to take that risk. It used to be that you could get a job teaching ESL without a degree, or without even a TEFL certificate, but a lot of countries have upgraded their requirements over recent years, so those days are long gone.
And really, I’m happy now that I’m back in Toronto with my family and friends, so why mess with a good thing?
I already managed to find a new client this week, and I booked some new assignments on Monday, so my freelancing business is slowly kicking back into gear. I even bought a camera yesterday so I can resume doing business stories for the Yellow Pages here in Toronto (they demand pro quality photos and my cellphone camera is garbage). It’s just a matter of time until the pay cheques start rolling in again, but I’ll have to make due with my current set up at my parents place for now.
In the end, I’m glad to be back and I feel as though I’m ready to put down roots, get a good job in the media somewhere, get a nice place in the city, and start making music again (I bought a new guitar and have been practising a lot).
I got the whole “living abroad” thing out of my system by living in Montreal for 3 years, which I know isn’t really abroad, but French Canada is so different it might as well be another country. Right now, it looks like I’m here to stay.