In this week’s confessions series, Lee Davy talks about his struggles with the management of workload and maintaining the right balance in a poker writer’s life.
What are your priorities in life?
In my life, I have three main priorities: my son, my job and my wife.
Now place them in order of importance.
1. My wife
2. My son
3. My job
So in terms of life balance, I spend more of my focus on my wife, followed by my son and then my job.
What a load of bollocks.
Let’s look at how my priorities really look.
1. My job
2. My son
3. My wife
Failing to understand that this order existed, and even worse, insistence that the first list was the true priority list, is the reason that my first wife divorced me. It will also be the reason my second wife divorces me if I don’t change.
When I worked on the rail industry, I would get paid the same amount each month. It didn’t matter how hard I worked, how many hours I spent away from home, or who I impressed. Every month, I got paid the same. I didn’t even have to come into work for 6 months, and I still would have been paid the same.
I never worried about money.
This safety blanket is one of the reasons I built up £30,000 of gambling and consumer debt. My thought process was simple. I would keep on buying anything I wanted and then when I retired I would use one of my pensions to pay off my debt.
Then I quit.
I became a writer.
I started to worry about money.
My first paid gig was with BLUFF. I spent an hour writing an article about my weekly home game and they paid me £250. When I told my friend that I was getting £250/hour, he nearly choked on his laverbread. Then I reminded him that I only worked one hour per month.
When PokerNews asked me to join them as a live tournament reporter, I was being paid approx. £180 per day. This was approx. £1,200 per tournament. I now had £1,450 per month.
I didn’t have a tournament every month.
I need to earn £2,100 to cover my basic expenses.
Can you see a problem developing here?
I was also the new kid on the block. People didn’t know me and therefore they didn’t trust me. I was also going through a divorce and was separated from my son. PokerNews asked the new kid on the block to go to San Remo for an EPT event.
If I go, then I get to show them what I am capable of. My goal is to make myself indispensable. I need them to need me. I need £1,200 per month. I need that money.
What about my son?
If I travel all over the world, I am not with him.
If I turn the job down, they won’t hire me again. It allows the next kid on the block to take my place. He has the spotlight. He can shine. I am a man. I am the provider. I need to put food on the table and I need to put a roof over my son’s head.
I need to go to San Remo.
PokerNews now trusted me. They give me more work. I racked up more air miles. Unibet asked me to cover a tournament for them. I get stuck in. They like me. The World Poker Tour asked me to get involved. I get stuck in. They like me also.
Then you have the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
How can you exist in this industry and not work at the WSOP?
Levels of trust are building with my clients. They are coming back to me time and time again. I have covered my expenses. I have started to make money for writing about poker. This is fucking wonderful.
My ex-wife hates my guts. She wants to put a spoon into my eye socket. My son does his best to tell me it’s okay…but it’s not okay. He doesn’t recognize me. I am alien to him. His mother becomes everything to him. I become this guy who sees him every now and then and gives him expensive presents.
The more I write the more people ask me to write.
Then I lose a contract.
This never happened on the railway.
What if I lost the PokerNews work? What if I lost that £1,200 per month? I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen.
I wake up one morning and realize that I am missing my son’s life.
I put more effort into finding work that I can do from home. It works. I quit working for PokerNews and maintain my live reporting job for the World Poker Tour, as it’s just a few stops per year.
Now I am able to see my son more. At the same time, I fall in love and re-marry. More people ask me to work. I test the waters with PokerNews. They don’t want me back. That bridge has been blown to smithereens.
I get more and more work. I am writing for everyone. I wake up and start writing and I don’t finish until I go to sleep. I have carved out some time for my son though. We have bonded through football. We are in love again. This is what it feels like to be a father. I love it.
“What’s that love?”
“You want me to take you out?”
“But I have this article to write.”
“Maybe next week.”
A familiar feeling returns.
My son is happy but my new wife is not.
Everyone wants a piece of my time.
What am I doing?
This is insane?
Is this what life is?
I am writing to earn money – to do what exactly?
But whom do I drop?
Where do I start?
If I drop client A then what happens if client B goes bust tomorrow? Will client A have me back or will they have replaced me with someone else? What about client C? But they are so flexible and so nice.
Why hasn’t she unpacked?
Why is the suitcase still full of her clothes?
This is what happens when you don’t get your priorities straight and your life is ruled by fear. When you put your job first, then everything goes downhill pretty rapidly.
Believe me, I know.
So what’s the answer?
The job of the poker writer provides you with freedom. Everyone has deadlines but writing is not the same as clocking in and out at the factory. Today, I woke up, took my wife for a nice lunch, walked through town, holding hands, and then started work in the late afternoon/early evening.
1. My wife
2. My son
3. My work
The fear of missing out will always be there. It’s not something that you are going to remove. You have to learn to live with it. Life is about making tough choices. Sometimes you have to drop a client. So what. Do you know what always happens, if you keep to this priority list?
Another client turns up.
Happiness begets happiness.
It creates confidence and that attracts the right people into your life.
Now I ask you again.
What are your priorities in life?