Dear Mentor:

Should I become a writer and go abroad?

I want to know how can I use iMahal facilities. Do I have to register? I already have an email account so I do not need another one. My query is as follows. I am 24 years old male, graduate in Commerce from Himachal Pradesh University. I am doing C.A. & C.S. at present. I have cleared the foundation stage, 1 out of 2 groups of Intermediate. My training for C.A. will be complete by august 2001. I am confident by then I'll complete the Intermediate stage and 1 out of 2 stages of the final course. I do not know whether or when I'll be able to complete my C.A. My interests are in writing columns for newspapers, magazines, etc. I can write for rock music (reviews/profiles etc.) as I am almost 100% qualified for the last 40 years of rock music history. I am confused. I am a misfit in India. I want to go abroad, anywhere such as Canada, the States, Britain, Australia or Belarus. Can you guide me choose a career, to chalk out my chances of going abroad as soon as possible? The crux of the matter is that I need counseling on whether I can make it in what I am doing, or whether I should switch over and take the risk. But, I don't have any formal qualification on writing. Should I join "The Writers Bureau, London" for their correspondence course? Do you have any info on this? Please help me!

Frustrated Writer, Chandigarh, India

Dear Frustrated Writer:

Let's get the easy part out of the way first. You do not need to register at iMahal to use iMahal facilities, except for iMahal email and the iMahal Discussion Forums. Registering for either one gives you access to the other. We would very much like our audience to register because it helps us, but we do not insist on it. The fact that you already have an email account elsewhere, does not preclude you for having another email account on iMahal. It is a common practice to have more than one email account. We encourage you to sign up for our email and use it.

We would first like to outline our philosophy of professional success, before we answer your question more directly. Life is a constant balance between what one desires versus what one can get. What one desires often can not be obtained overnight. Going from Point A to Point B in real life is not often a straight line. One may need to go to point C, or more steps in between, to reach Point B. And all this takes time. One often wants to start from the top, but reality is that one often begins at the bottom, to work one's way up. One needs to keep the endgame in mind, and take incremental steps to reach the desired professional goals. In some instances, one may not reach the ultimate goal, but the challenge of trying for your passion could be equally exciting.

Professional success comes from a combination of personal talent and motivation, knowledge acquired through formal (such as formal education) or informal (such as work experience) means, and the ability to apply the talent and acquired knowledge. As you can see, education is only one of the three ingredients -- talent, knowledge, and ability to apply the knowledge and talent -- in the recipe for success.

We are a little confused with the description of your goals. On the one hand, you wish to become a writer, and on the other, you wish to go abroad. Perhaps you wish to do both - become a writer abroad - but it is not clear to us as to which is more important to you. If you wish to do both, you want to gain something in one step that might normally take multiple steps. It is possible in the long run, but not highly probable in the near term.

If becoming a writer is important, some formal training may be helpful. A certificate or diploma course here or there is not going to be particularly helpful, but formal and rigorous degree education might be. You can try to get a "writing" job with a small local newspaper as a start, prove yourself as a proficient and valuable writer, and move your way up. With the advent of the Internet, many websites need content creators as well, and you can start with that also. You have to prove to others that you are a good writer. Your personal claim to your ability, without relevant formal education, must be demonstrated in a professional work environment, before you can expect employers to offer you greater opportunities. You may have to start from the bottom to prove your worth.

We are talking of a different ball-game altogether, if going abroad is your main objective. You might be able to, but it is difficult. In an earlier column, we wrote about making a career in the US. You may wish to read that column. The easiest way to go to countries like the US and Canada is via the education route. To gain formal education in writing-related fields, such as English Literature or Journalism, one must be able to finance an extremely expensive education oneself, since virtually no financial aid is available. The job market is also not very kind for such fields either.

To go abroad as a writer, you are perhaps stretching your ambition a bit too far. Assume for a moment that you are an American employer. Ask yourself the following question: Why should I hire someone as a writer, who is sitting in India and has no training in writing? Frankly, in trying to answer that question, we could not come up with any good reasons. And that would be our answer - that is, there is no particularly good reason.

In a nutshell, start building your portfolio of skills, experiences and success, before you can expect others to give you opportunities. You have to make your own opportunities. You have to work for them. No one will offer something, just because you ask for it. Luck is nothing but hard work to create opportunities. That would be the formula for your professional success, just as it is for everyone else.

Whether in India or abroad, we wish you success.

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