There was a brief time where, due to confusing and failed life plans as a result of my tenuous position as an alternate for the JET Program, I was a NEET from July to November 2018. And because of that, for three months, I was getting no income, but I was also living rent-free with my parents and infinite free time… My dreams of being a Full-Time Writer came true. If I was going to be a NEET, I was going to be a NEET who accomplished great things…!!!
Then I got called to fulfill a position in the JET Program after all at the end of October and that all disappeared immediately. But I had set all of these lofty goals for myself… I really was gonna make this writing thing work… But, yeah, I definitely chose to actually make money doing a job I like instead of risking getting buried in accumulating debt.
And, actually, I did do a ton of work in that time. In the months of September and October alone, I averaged something like 50 hours a week working on writing, which was extremely unhealthy but I was at least burning out near mid-October so I was doing a way more reasonable amount of work. If I had continued into November and beyond, I think I would have done some really great things.
What I accomplished in my three months as a Full-Time Writer is still impacting me today. I wrote for, revised, and released ATL: Stories from the Retrofuture and built myself a four-month backlog from day one; I went deeper into the mundane silliness of Caribbean Rim; I rewrote Hands Held in the Snow; and I wrote and completed the 100-chapter The Glory of Bowsette in less than two weeks. And that’s just the stuff that is publicly available. I wrote quite a bit more than all of that.
And I had even made a plan for myself, a plan to finish various novels, serials, fan fictions, and other projects by the end of 2019 to establish myself as a writer for real and maybe even get some real publications under my belt. I’m looking at the month-by-month plan, and gosh if this wouldn’t have been fun to get through. It seems utterly unrealistic now, but back in that span, I was writing 20,000 words a week without breaking a sweat. I revised and rewrote an entire novel in just a few days. And I had a ton of fun doing it!
The aforementioned burning out may have been a sign that things weren’t going to work out that well in the end, though; even before I got the call for the JET Program, I was starting to get a little antsy with my life. I had no real-life friends to meet with, no car so I stayed at home all day, and that 100-chapter marathon with The Glory of Bowsette had left me in a daze for a week. Who’s to say that, by December or January I wouldn’t have fallen completely off the wagon in favor of working menial online freelance gigs and playing RPG games? Probably wouldn’t have happened, but I did indeed spend an entire five-day period in November marathoning 25+ movies on DVD after joining the JET Program instead of writing even a single word. That was… certainly an experience.
The world was not yet ready for the likes of Quinn Astley and The Luminous; those will come someday, but not anytime soon. The world probably will not get 男物語 (Otokomonogatari), my stupidly-ambitious concept for a retelling of the Monogatari Series but with Hanekawa Tsubasa as the cursed vampire, but perhaps the world is better off without such a thing.
Still, you can see what ending the JET Program ended up doing. Hands Held in the Snow took another year to fully finish and get ready for release; Caribbean Rim was canceled; and the whole big Quinlan Circle start, predicated largely on my ability to carry it solo in its early months, still hasn’t taken off like originally planned. (Though my stories certainly aren’t the only ones on the Quinlan Circle so far!) It’s all altered, but it’s still going well, all things considered.
I won’t say I don’t miss that life, but my job right now is quite a bit better for me. I’m doing what I love and living cheaply for now so that, one day, I can return to the life of a Full-Time Writer, and this time actually make money doing it.