Introducing: The Fund Your Passion Project Series

Anyone else take the road less traveled by… and then run out of gas money?

How To Fund Your Passion Project

I quit my steady if not lucrative job to go back to school at the ripe old age of 38. I sat through classes with twenty-year-olds. I realized with age comes not so much wisdom as way slower brain processing speeds and antiquated notions about privacy. But back in those classrooms and the library, I fell in love with learning and literature and writing all over again.

Being from the non-welfare lands of South-East Asia, I’ve invested 30-40% of my net income from the time I’d completed undergrad. My loving grandfather had left me an inheritance. I educated myself about money so I could invest that inheritance in stocks and real estate. With nothing other than the power of compound returns, the fashion pride of a writer (aka $2 days at Goodwill) and the gods of the stock market, I lucked out. I’ve returned to grad school without taking on high-interest loans. Instead, I coast on a combination of returns from those investments and the penny-pinching know-how of my war-era Nyonya grandmother.

So. I can afford the luxury of basic health insurance. Yippee.

But. I crave some of the stuff that gives life it’s zing: Girlfriend getaways! Cute skirts I don’t need! Dinners at restaurants not named after fictional farmers!

So how does a part-time careerist make work work? How do writers and creative types apportion time between income-producing work, recovering from said work and having the energy and presence of mind to generate succulent fiction and art? Even with the jobs out there, which ones return money as efficiently as possible for those of us without the sensible degrees? If you’re a writer, are the only options to teach, write copy or marry someone with a sensible degree?

If you are under 14, I’d say, listen to your parents. Get the boring degree with the monied initials. Work your way past your debt, save up, then sweat it out and unleash your creative genius. This worked for mega blockbuster authors Khaled Hosseini, M.D., John Grisham, J.D. and Michael Connelly, M.D.

If you are at any other stage in life and, say, attached to the safe and materially cushy allures of your 9-to-5, have a spouse and hungry kid to answer to, yet wake up at night to the siren call of your childhood fantasy to write, I hope you’ll join me each month as I try to figure this out by bugging other writers about how they fuel their passion projects.

Check back here every other month for updates as I crunch the numbers (hours spent, hair torn and lattes guzzled) with freelancers, writers and other creative types who inspire me.

Illustration by Pablo Sanchez


About Mei Li Ooi

Writer. Editor. Diet Rebel.

One Response to “Introducing: The Fund Your Passion Project Series”

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