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Best Job for a Writer? TEFL!

I’m always Googling “best jobs for writers.” I dislike the idea of technical writing—what if my day job bled into my fiction? The next best search results suggest working in security or as night auditor at a hotel, where down time equals writing time.

I propose something better: TEFL. Or Teaching English as a Foreign Language. The job description varies by country and school, but I can’t imagine a better situation than the one I have at my job here in Taiwan. I don’t teach more than 20 hours a week, but I’m provided with national healthcare and housing, so my salary goes a long way, especially since the cost of living is so low.

My go-to teppanyaki meal costs NT$60 or US $2.00.

Money aside, I have time, time, time! My school is an English “buxiban” or cram school, so I teach after school hours, mostly 5pm to 9pm. Sure, I have lesson planning and grading, but not much, and foreign teachers at my school aren’t required to sit office hours.

I have all day to write. I also get a good chunk of vacation time, and there’s nothing better for my creativity than travel!

Obviously there’s a downside. I miss out on writing conferences, and local writing groups. My only contact with the community is online. There’s also the distance from friends and family to deal with, so TEFL isn’t for everyone.

If you’re an aspiring writer and you’re not happy with where you are, think about it. It’s particularly easy to get jobs in Asia, and you can seek out a situation that will let you balance work and writing. There’s always Skype for keeping in touch with the folks at home.

I’m happy to chat if anyone is interested in the TEFL/writing life!

The Joy of the Novella

I’m not a fan of short fiction. When I finish reading a ten-page story, I always feel cheated. It took me eight pages to get into it…now where’s the rest? Growing up, I was hooked on series reads, and the longer, the better. The Dragonriders of Pern, the Animorphs, The Wheel of Time…the list goes on.

I still love my sweeping epic fantasies, but lately I’m obsessed with the novella. From a reading perspective, I find novellas long enough to be fulfilling, and the condensed word count keeps writers honest. With only 25,000 or so words, you have to get to the point. There’s not too much fluff and the sub-plots have to stay tight. Novellas can be part of an anthology, or often run into a series. More to read is always a win!

As a writer, I’m loving the novella format even more. I can crank out 25k in a month, and being able to finish something so fast keeps me inside the story world. There’s much less continuity type revision to do, because it’s so much easier to keep track of the story’s flow.

If you’re a beginning writer, I definitely recommend trying your hand at some novella length work. A 30k novella is a lot less intimidating than a 70k YA novel or a 100k work of women’s fiction. It’s easier to practice craft, and even if you don’t like the end result, it was only a month or two of writing, instead of a few years.

With e-readers booming, the market for novellas has grown to match, and there are some great e-presses that publish novellas of 30k or less. Samhain and Entangled are two of my favorites, and both of them frequently issue open calls for submissions.

Keep an eye on their open calls here:

Samhain

Entangled

Happy reading, writing, and submitting!