How to move forward with HopeMail?

Plus: job, career, vocation; what’s the difference?

Issue 111

Hello HopeMail readers,

I had two drafts of different topics I’ve written for this issue of HopeMail. One is a draft, draft; like pencil scrawls which only I can decode. The other, quite a complete piece ready to be published. 

But, that morning when I plonked my tush to continue my draft, I felt I needed to write about something else. And this is like a writer’s nightmare, or at least, mine. I got something quite ready to go, only three more days to publishing the essay, but I have to go back to the drawing board.

I’ll attempt an explanation. 

Truth to be told, I’m in a bind about my work. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I should carry HopeMail forward. Hmm…is “how I should” the right question to ask? Or is it “how I want”?

While I’m grateful for the long-time readers of HopeMail; for the regular ones; the newer ones; for those who are more responsive with their replies, I’m also thinking about the rest of my subscribers. Of which, I’m not sure if they are reading most of my posts. If not, why are they still subscribed?

Is what I’m writing not valuable to them? Not interesting enough? Not entertaining? Too long? Too short? What should I write about? How do I continue writing for my long-time readers and people who actually like to receive my newsletter? (I mean, you guys, wow.)

I not only want to write something I enjoy, but it needs to benefit the readers; be it: encouragement, a nudge to think about something, or just a much-needed laugh. 

These—the thinking, intensified when I became serious about doing this as my work, as my writing business. How? How best do I build this while keeping true to the why I’m doing it.

I recently also came to a gigantic decision that the artistic career path (writing + drawing) is what I want. It has been there, getting louder the past few years. I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t dare to go onto the path too.

But now it’s so aligned—the work I’m doing and how it felt in my heart. Sometimes when you know; you know. Of course, I’m forever curious and envious of people who, in their 20s, figured out what they’re gonna do for work. 

From my early 40s, it took me around five years of trying different things within the writing sphere, of exploring, reviewing, and lots of soul-searching to arrive at this decision of pursuing this as my career and business. Of which, I’m still having trouble explaining to friends-with-normal-jobs without sounding like I’m this impractical person, trying to make a living being a writer and artist. 

So when I’m asked the questions, “What do you do?” ‘What are you doing now?” “What do you do besides your newsletter?”, I always pad it up with something “normal”, like, “Yes, I’m having a regular income from writing for people’s blog and newsletter. No. I’m not bumming around trying to be artistic.”

Like I have to validate what I’m doing. Like I have to validate—me. 

Then again—I would think—am I, instead of others, the one with the harshest, loudest accusing voice? Am I the worst encourager to myself?

🔗 Linkies and quote

The right question to ask is not necessarily, “What is my vocation going to be?” but “How do I choose the best door that is in front of me right now?” 

At the point when I was struggling between what I like to do/what I can do/what I have to do, these two articles gave me great clarity to know the difference between a job, a career and a vocation.

Having clarity of the difference freed me from going back and forth about what I want to do/what should I do/what I have to do. It freed me to choose what is the best door in front of me right now.

  1. 🗄 Job, career, vocation: The difference is in the calling.

  2. 👱🏻 Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which sold 12 million copies has this to say about not liking your job. If you prefer, you can watch her video below:


Artist, Tomer Hanuka asked his third-year illustration students to come up with a post-pandemic mock The New Yorker cover.

I love this one by Chenmiao Shi.

I miss deep-inhaling the smell of books when I step into a bookstore. Sadly, the virus is not the only thing that wearing a mask kept out.

Any book-smellers out there? 🙋🏻‍♀️

That’s it for this issue. Take care, y’all. If you have suggestions on what you’d like to read from HopeMail, something that you’ll look forward to when it drops in your inbox, comments are below.  

Leave a comment

Now, excuse me while I go wear my mask.

HopeMail is essays, drawings, poems and curated links on our everyday, often not-together-life. Candid, reflective, with a sprinkling of humour. Kinda like those good conversations with friends.

Sign up to receive two free issues on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. Next issue coming up: May 7th.