I recently had someone connect with me on LinkedIn who turned out to be a huge Bionicle fan. It’s not the first time, and it is quite satisfying to hear from these guys who grew up with the toys ten, fifteen years ago, although not as satisfying as royalties would have been of course… 😉
However, in his post-connection message, he said this: “Thank you for connecting with me. I really appreciate it. I’ve looked at your profile and, seriously, it must be amazing to wake up every morning.”
That immediately made me think a) OK, I guess I did a good job with my profile, and b) should I really say something out loud about the realities of being a freelance script writer? The answer to which is yes.
This is actually an excerpt from a book I wrote ten years or so ago that never got anywhere, about a writer in mid-life crisis who accidentally ran away and discovered himself. Yeah yeah, I know, not exactly an original concept. Bite me. However, a year or so later I cut it down and turned it into a first person blog, posting it one ‘chapter’ a day, as if it was happening in real time. When I’d finished the ‘story’, an old friend got in touch, worried for me apparently. I hadn’t heard from him in years, but it seems somehow he’d found my blog and had been following it. Turned out he thought it was real. When I told him the truth, he said, and I quote, “you bastard! You had me really worried there!” I can’t say I wasn’t flattered of course. Anyhow, the blog is now deleted (although I may put it up here sometime), but on occasions parts of it still ring true, including this one.
The blog was called ‘The Moment In The Woods’, and this particular ‘chapter’ was entitled…
Whole lotta f****ed up
It’s difficult to tell whether I’m having a crisis or not, to be honest. I’ve been in one crisis or another as long as I can remember. OK, most people would say ‘you making a living out of writing, you work from a Georgian farmhouse in the middle of the countryside, you’re married to the girl you always wanted at college, you have two deeply special children that you adore and who adore you – like that guy said to George Best, ‘where did it all go wrong?”
And they’d be right, of course. At this point I should probably say ‘but I’m not happy’, and go on to describe how I want to leave it all behind and go on an implausibly torrid journey of self-discovery that involves me riding freight trains, selling guns, washing dishes in Byron Bay and generally getting all the things that fortysomethings dream of running away from it all to get.
Trouble is, I never really joined ‘it’ to leave ‘it’ all behind. I’ve been a freelance writer for over twenty years, and made a reasonable living at it for some of those, which means life has never been ordinary – frequently so close to the edge mentally and financially that I felt like ending it all, or worse, getting a ‘proper job’, but at least never ordinary. I get to go to exciting foreign cities to sell my wares and stress the shit out of myself about not having the money to do it, and I’m talking really not having the money – I get the Easyjet flight then crash on friends’ apartment floors and live on party food for a week. See what I mean? You’re not feeling sorry for me here, are you? You’re thinking enviable lifestyle. Sure, it’s great, apart from the lack of regular income, pension, life insurance, own house (the Georgian farmhouse is rented and falling down), college fund, and any kind of long term security bit. And of course the panic attacks. Everything else is just fucking peachy.