What I have in my mind before I write is always different from what I end up writing. A painter/designer/choreographer friend of mine told me once that he does not know what he is painting until he finishes it. I hear that crazy truth over and over: We can only figure out what we want/need/ought to do AFTER we start doing it. It sounds unfair, but looks like that’s how the universe works.
Until recently, I worked for several years as a technical writer. Writing user manuals looks like the boring-est of the list of boring jobs in this world, but I loved it—the joy of organizing chaotic information was akin to designing my miniature castle. The Asian manufacturer’s habit of cramming as much features as possible in a product provided healthy challenges too; you have seen an Android phone that can “run all the latest iOS apps” somewhere down the dark lane, right?
But it wasn’t like I pursued technical writing as my career. The truth is, it happened as follows:
- I became disillusioned at the technical support job I had been engaged.
- I was already in Taiwan and wanted to stay here.
- I started talking with some companies for a technical marketing position because that sounded “cool.”
- A company called me out of a blue and asked if I was interested in technical writing.
- I met them out of curiosity and was hired on the spot.
- I took the gig because I needed a “sure” thing, yet I had no idea what a technical writer should do.
- One month into my position I knew I had fallen in love with my new job.
In order to find the jewel that is buried somewhere in the ocean of consciousness, I needed to trust my instinct and jump off the ridge, hoping that the water is not too shallow/deep/cold/violent. If that’s the case, where does the “hunch” or “instinct” fit into the picture? If anything real is discovered only after I start exploring, does that mean that the fragile sensation in my stomach is, after all, fake?
No, my hunches never lie. There is definitely “something.” But it is also true that I start with one thing but always end up doing or finding another. Probably my “hunch” is not the answer as I used to expect. I now think that my hunch serves the opposite role: question.
My hunch/sensation/instinct does seem to take the shape of an answer, but that’s because I am god-damn needy and always looking for a quick solution. Because the hunch appears shape-less, it is malleable into any form depending on my mood or desire, and thus it can easily appear as my fantasy solution. The truth is, a hunch is nothing more than a hunch. It is my job to give it a concrete shape through trials and errors.
I recently said good-bye to my corporate life and started a new path of autonomy. Although I have built a support system (savings, legal structure, health care, etc.), largely I am living in an unknown territory. I got rid of “planning” to invite more spontaneous actions and “hunches.” That means more often than not I (on purpose) do not know what I am going to through the day until I wake up.
Before I made this move, I did not know what I really wanted. I only knew that my corporate life wasn’t working for me anymore. I followed the hunch and jumped off the ridge to remove life elements that weren’t working (had to say Sayonara to steady paycheck along the way, unfortunately).
Did I make the right move? So far, I can say that everything that happened so far told me Yes and Yes. The initial hunches are shifting and growing along the way. How they are going to be formed remains to be seen, and might be reported here along the way.