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The Pain and Terror of Editing in the Third World

It's Tuesday. To be more specific, it's midnight on a Tuesday, and you, yes you, have deadlines to meet. You're out of coffee, rent is due, and your cat is giving you that look that it gives you when it's been fed dry cat food instead of tuna, the entitled little motherfucker.

Except for the fact that I don't have a cat, this was my life a few days ago when the crunch got especially real. What's even worse is that this situation is self-imposed. I would love to have an angry editor breathing down my neck, furiously demanding to know when the thing will be ready and how long it will be before the next the thing enters into production.

No, I'm not a masochist. It's just that the presence of an editor might also imply the presence of a salary, which I would love to have very much. Don't get me wrong, I'll always work freelance if I can help it. The freedom is good for the soul and being able to set my own deadlines does wonders for distracting myself from the nameless, eldritch horrors encroaching on the edges of my vision, screaming prophetic portents of doom into my ears and flaying away at the final vestiges of my sanity.

The bad news is that freelancers are all fucking poor. All of us. If you ever meet a freelancer that claims to be non-poor, he or she is lying, and you should punch them. There are no exceptions. I don't care if the fraudster in question is some wheelchair bound little granny with a kind face and not many years left in her. If Granny tries to tell you she makes good pocket money selling her knitted doilies to her friends, you pull her out of her wheelchair and suplex that old cow.

The sad reality is that I live in a country where you have to pay for everything twice. I pay disgustingly high income tax to the government, which at this point in time is most charitably described as a murderous, morally bankrupt mafia state with some failed attempts at communism thrown in.

Then once they're done brutally fist-fucking me for that chunk of change, I have to pay for private security because the police are as likely to shoot you as help you in this shithole and will probably want a bribe for the privilege either way.

I pay for private medical aid because public hospitals in (redacted country) are considered high quality if they don't harvest their patients' organs to sell them to the witch doctors for use in rituals, and I pay twice as much rent as I should be expected to in order to get access to the distinct luxury of an in-building generator.

This is so that I can keep the lights on in a country where the power grid is collapsing and we're all spiraling inevitably towards the sweaty, leather-wearing Mad Max scenario that that old homeless guy on the side of the road warned me about.

The reality is that my generation gets hit with it especially hard because we inherited an economy that's even shittier than the one that was operating a few decades ago, and everyone is holding on for dear life by the few strands of hope we can still muster. Very few people think we're going to have a future or a functioning democracy to speak of in the next decade or two, and the amount of people leaving increases by the day. The rich ones that can afford to do so, anyway.

While the vultures fight one another over the last scraps and the politicians put hits out on each other for those last few cushy sets at the table left, the world is going to the dogs and people like me are left to make a fucking plan and hope it doesn't fall through the cracks.

So yeah. This next draft had better turn out decent and it had better sell. It's a strange time we're living in, and everything I read tells me the First World is only marginally better and in some ways much worse, but Sebby's still hoping he'll hit his break soon and be able to pay for that golden ticket to somewhere nice.

It's funny. I was really hoping I'd be able to avoid the rat race. The ironic reality is that if you can afford to go to university and get a degree, you're almost tempted to leave with the idea in your head that you'll be immune to the depressing realities of the global economy.

You very quickly are disabused of these foolish notions the tenth time you put out a job application and find out you haven't made the cut. Everyone wants experience and yet nobody is willing to train experience into people. Even if you've been working for five years, it soon becomes obvious that salaries have stagnated. Companies want to hire Batman, but they also don't want to pay him any more than they'd give to Robin.

That's right, asshole. If you're lucky, you'll make as much cash as the bird boy in tights that Batman definitely hasn't been grooming in the creepiest way possible. That's what labour is worth these days, skilled or not. Part of the reason I went freelance was to avoid having to engage with this situation, but I sure do wonder what it must've been like to be a Boomer and buy a house for fifty dollars, half a sandwich and some complements.

Pride cometh before the fall, and decadence comes before the renewal. Don't mistake it. We're in the new age of decadence now. The only reason it doesn't feel like the age of decadence to the average person is because they aren't fortunate enough to be able to afford the chocolate and the orgies and the flashy cars.

The average pleb on the street during the fall of Rome didn't get access to these things either, it was all reserved for the senators and the captains of the Praetorian Guard. How ironic that in every age of decadence that comes before the renewal, privation seems to be the order of the day for the supermajority of people instead of the excess the ages are named for.

The other day I read an article about Neuralink, the company Elon Musk has set up to develop advanced brainchips to cure cancer and let the blind see and all that sci-fi shit. This being Elon Musk, I can practically taste the caveats, and this was long before the accusations came out that Neuralink's rushed experiments had killed 1,500 test animals and led to a situation where they were caught out carelessly and improperly transporting lab equipment and materials contaminated with antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

While the Third World goes towards Mad Max, I can't help but feel like our friends in the First are getting their first true taste of dystopian cyberpunk. It's only going to get more surreal from here, ladies and gents. If you want a good primer on what to expect, check out Edgerunners on Netflix.

That is, if you can still afford an account. And hey, while you're at it, maybe pop onto the Amazon store and buy my book. If you do, I might be able to keep the lights on for a little while longer...

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