I write this off the back of a conversation I had with an artist buddy of mine. He is undiscovered, hugely talented, doing a day job he doesn’t enjoy and working his arse off on top of that to squeeze a toe in the door of a saturated industry. How many creative people are out there doing that? Now I don’t want to whine, because we knew it was going to be this way from the off. You are competing with the big guys from day one. The giants are already out there, many of them struggling also, and you are expected to draw at least level with their standard, without any of the contacts or the experience. I knew the risks and I chose to do it anyway. And I have the unbelievable bonus of loving my day job. So I am certainly not whining.
I just wish I knew there was something at the end of it.
If you become a neurosurgeon/lawyer/physiotherapist/dentist etc, you work hard and at the end you get a job, respect, money. If you start in a business and work hard, you move your way up.
A writer/artist/musician/actor/entrepreneur etc will work and work and work and hope really hard that at the end somebody somewhere gives you some kind of validity, but quite possibly, MORE than possibly, that will never happen. You put in thousands of hours work and it may or may not pay off. If I had earned minimum wage for every hour I spent writing my book, I would be rich. Sure, our economy is devised in a way that many people have to put in hours of unpaid toil: studying, internships, volunteering, work experience. But, if I had gone and done an internship somewhere, or trained in a profession, I would probably be getting paid for it now.
I don’t want any of that stuff. I would prefer to take the risk and aim for the slim chance of success.
But that might not always be the case.
At the moment I have another job that I enjoy, and yet I am already questioning the risk. (It is a question worth asking yourself every day I guess – is this what I want to be doing?) Eventually other responsibilities may raise their heads – security, family, a house, keeping up with all your friends who chose a career on a structured ladder and have now climbed up several rungs. Then what? Will the dream start to ebb away and I’ll settle for something else? I might not even see it as settling. Do I get into something that isn’t quite what I want to do just so I can kind of do what I want to do? Is that selling out, or just being picky?
Basically, WHAT IF IT NEVER WORKS OUT?
The problem is that THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME. I, along with most human beings, have an innate optimism about how long things take. I actually have this issue with everything I do, but it is particularly difficult to quantify creative works. I have no doubt that experience and practice will improve this, but meanwhile, when I plan how long something will take, I should really multiply it by about three to get near the correct time frame. Nothing gets done quickly enough. If it’s ever finished at all. I feel as though I am moving at a snail’s pace, often taking convoluted routes, and still got nothing to show for it.
I work at least a forty hour week at the moment, and have ABSOLUTELY NO SOCIAL LIFE. I spend all my free time writing, reading and researching, apart from the odd episode of Peep Show or the occasional phone call (Don’t really recommend it as a social outlet, but not having to change out of your pyjamas is a definite plus). It’s fine. It’s short term. I am good at working hard. But I can’t do that forever – people need fun. People need LIFE.
If I could have one of Superman’s powers, it would totally be his ability to read and absorb information extra fast. Screw flight, x-ray vision, incredible strength; give me the power to learn at speed. PLEASE. I’m just never going to cut the mustard at the rate I’m going.
I know I need patience, but I want a plan. I’ve never really wanted a plan before. I like the unexpected twists of life. I’m all for embracing the random. But recently, I’ve been discovering that I am super competitive and super driven. I want to change the world. AND I DON’T KNOW HOW.
After writing this draft I stumbled across Katie Brennan’s bang on blog entry:
This could not have been better timing. Apparently I am not the only who who feels this way, and she actually has some ideas on how to deal with it that are slightly better than wishing you could read as fast as Superman.