Archive for May, 2009

Following a budget for 30 days – April 1st to April 30th

May 1, 2009

For the month of April, I managed to follow a budget that I had set for myself. The lesson of my “account for your expenses” trial a few months ago was that there is no point accounting for expenses if I didn’t follow a budget. So I eventually got around to doing it, and I’m happy to say that I managed to follow it. Despite some unforseen events, I was able to stick between the spending limits that I had allocated to different categories.

It’s not really a trial per say, because it’s one of the things that everybody knows it’s better to do it, than not do it.

I didn’t like to do it, and even after 30 days, I still feel frustrated. I can’t buy everything I want, and any visit to a book shop, or to an electronics shop is excruciating. I even caught myself thinking: that two metre wide big screen TV is only 150 euros/month, just buy it! GAH!

It wasn’t fun at all not going to the restaurant all the time. Or watching my spending when going there. One night was particularly painful. I went to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and now, because I don’t drink alcohol and eat only when I’m hungry, I only had one main course. When the bill came, I asked to pay only my share, as everybody else had had wine, several drinks, and dessert.

Asking for this was painful. There was an uneasiness at the table. I don’t know if it came from me, or from the others, but I didn’t like it. Then I was asked to share a taxi, and I said no, I’m taking the bus.

My friends asked me how come I was watching my spending after I got my new MBA job. Granted, I earn a much better living than before, but I’m still reimbursing student – and credit card- debt. And if I follow my planned budget, there shouldn’t be any improvement in my spending until January 2009. I didn’t really understand why I was being questioned for my choices, and I felt that people thought I was some kind of uncle Scrooge or something.

The same people asked me about week ends to Brittany, London, the South, etc… Right now, I had to turn them down. And this is making me feel like shit, unsuccessful, a loser, etc etc.

Anyway, at least I was able to follow my spending for the 30 days, so that’s one success in all this.

I think that this is part of the learning process, not to give in to every buying impulse I have, so I feel frustrated I am still at the beginner’s stage financially, when they all seem to be doing so well… So right now, no kite-surfing trips, no London trips, and no big screen TV 😦


Update on the secret trial

May 1, 2009

It’s still going 🙂

The 60 000 words threshold

May 1, 2009

A little more than a week ago, I crossed an important threshold : I passed the bar of 60 000 words on my novel.

When I started writing it in August 2008, I started to tell some people about it, and the common question was: “how far are you?” and I didn’t know what to answer, because I don’t know where my story is going. I’ve let complete freedom to my characters and to improvisation.

So I used some MBA skills and I googled “average number of books in a novel” and I found the number 60 000. So after I wrote 6000, I told people: “I’m 10% through”, and “half-way through” after I wrote 30 000 words.

“When do you think you’ll be finished?” people ask me often. And I said: 1st draft cmopleted around mid-April, because this is when I thought I would hit the 60 000 words; and indeed, I hit that number according to my prediction. I’ve got one problem though: the story is not finished at all ! So I don’t know what to tell people anymore.

A theatre vibe

May 1, 2009

Lately, theatre has made a little come back into my life in weird ways.

4 years ago, I was performing a one-man-show in Paris that was the result of two years of working the comic scene in Paris. I did that show for one full season. That was until I met a woman, fell in love, moved to England, started to work in Marketing, and abandoned performing.

But theatre has never really completely left my life. In London, I managed to keep contact with the feeling of speaking to an audience by attending the London Business School Toastmasters club, and then when I moved back to France to follow my MBA I created the public speaking club there.

I got so involved with the school end of the year theatre show (both for the intake before mine and my own) that at one point, I wondered if I was in business school, or back in fame school.

I thought that following an MBA program would finally make me abandon my artistic hopes, the exact opposite happened ! I wanted to be a writer more than ever; I found a confidence that I never had before. When preparing the show and reading the scripts that other people prepared, I knew what to edit, I knew what to develop, I advised on moves on the stage that would look good and it worked! I hated myself for allowing some skits into the show in the last minute without having done any editorial action on them.

I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious, but after years of feeling unconfident about performing and the arts, all of a sudden, I felt like I knew what I was doing (of course, that’s only when the event has actually happened that one can say that, because when the curtain opens, we are all beginners)…

So even if I went to look for a “real” job (one has to pay the student loan back), I started to write a novel and also blogging about personal development experiences.

Artistic dreams were never too far away-

Three weeks ago, I took my team to see a comedy play in Paris. That’s when the signs started.

The day after I made the reservation for the tickets, an ex-colleague emails me out of the blue. She used to come and see my shows. She emailed me to say that she had written her own show, and she directed it. So I booked a tick for that too.

Then my sister calls me, and part of her high school diploma examination consists in doing a theatre scene. She asked me to act in that scene. It’s in 3 weeks!

Two nights ago, I went  to see my friend’s play. In the audience, I see a girl I used to take theatre lessons with! and, get this, the day after, a guy who took the same class contacts me on Facebook to be his friend and sends me a message that said: “Ben, it’s X from theatre class!” (the two events are unrelated as teh two people didn’t keep contact)

That’s a LOT of signs in 3 weeks!! I’m trying not to get too excited over this. I’m just happily welcoming all of it, and I will prepare for my sister scene diligently…