Monday 21 May 2007

I'm leaving my job and going back to work!

"Oh you are so lucky!" they say, "You know what you want to do! I have no idea what I want to do!"
Yes, I know what I want to do, but I'm not sure how lucky I feel.
I've always known that I wanted to write, and at times such as this, I know that I need to.
Sounds a tad dramatic, doesn't it, especially in the context of this colyoom. Much as I love writing 'Double Vision', and inflicting upon you my weekly dose of neurotic outpourings, the scribbling of non-fiction does not keep me sane.
Sure, it pays the bills, and the discipline involved within writing a colyoom of a certain length, week in week out, year in year out, has helped me to hone my editing skills, but as regular readers know only too well, I am still prone to plunging into the mental abyss, appearing disturbed, deranged and depressed, whilst producing this 1000 words a week.
No, what keeps me sane is the creation of fiction.
Well, even that is not wholly true, but as is often the case, the converse is an absolute certainty.
If I do not write fiction, I eventually become depressed, and all of the aforementioned 'd's above.
Were I sculptor, (but then again no?) or a man standing at an easel clutching a palette, my apron smeared with the oily colours of the painting rainbow, you might well expect an artistic temperament, but in my experience, writers are somehow perceived as less artistic and more artisanal.
Well, let me tell ya, it makes no difference how you see us, because speaking personally, I know how mad it feels on the inside.
Throughout my adult life I have struggled to balance what we might as well call 'normality' with this preposterous need to create. Given that 'normal' is a pointless and irrelevant definition, I can admit to being able to pass myself off as 'normal' pretty well, for a while anyway.
I can keep the day job going, and make sure all the rent, bills and financial blah-de-blah holes are covered. I can take my two week holiday in Portugal and have a lovely time, appearing to most people as if I am just a regular kind of guy.
Well anyway, that's how it seems to me. Those close to me might tell me that I am deluding myself.
Point is, I can perform all the traditional roles of a functioning and contributing member of society, but alongside that lifestyle there plays an internal game of Chinese Water Torture: within my soul there runs an incessant drip-drip-drip of resentment and confusion, because all the while I'm doing the 'normal' thing, I am denying my own needs.
Hence, you poor colyoomistas had to suffer a long Winter of depression and discontent, until, come the Spring, I realise for the umpteenth time in my life that the writing of fiction is not a luxury item, it is a need; a prerequisite for sanity, and unfortunately here, as they say, is the rub: my creative process is disgustingly fragile.
Hats off to Kafka and T.S. Eliot, who managed to produce works of creative genius whilst holding down day jobs (in insurance and at Lloyds Bank, respectively). I wish I was able to do similar, but I am not.
Hence I am now leaving a most excellent job that I have very much enjoyed working at for 2 years, and choosing to go for broke by working on a fourth novel that has been an elusive work-in-progress for 12 long years.
Why now? Because I realise that I have to.
It is as simple as that.
Since 1985, I have completed three novels and three little plays, each of which was performed and one of which one a prize.
Prizes are all well and good, but what I seek is far more elusive that external recognition. Even though none of my novels were published, I can happily say with confidence, yet without conceit or bravado, that each of them is good enough.
Of course I will be delighted when my current novel is published, and my back catalogue released thereafter, but I know, as a writer, as an editor and as a reader that their unpublished state is neither a reflection of how well they were written, nor a judgement cast upon my skills, style or abilities.
Having grown up in marketing, I know how fickle are the choices of publishers, agents and their ilk. My first novel, a passionate low-life rant called 'Look Again' was read by the manuscript committee at the estimable publishing house of Faber, and was declined by a vote of 6-7.
Did I feel crushed? Absolutely not.
My only ambition as far as my writing is concerned is to improve: become more skilful, wiser, more able. Each novel, although a complete entity unto itself, is really nothing more than a stepping stone along the path to greater writing.
If all this sounds rather bombastic and melodramatic, so be it. My creative process might have been better served left hidden, but I am excited, and want to share my news.
I am going back to my work, people!
Facing the prospect of penury does not wilt me. Sure, a few weeks hence my lack of money might well surface in this space in a bit of an auld whinge, but right now, I am exhilarated, excited and just a little nervous.
Why? Well, because after all this high fallutin'-rootin'-tootin' rhetoric about creativity, if all I come up with is a big pile of stinky boring prose, I'll deserve whatever punishment is most appropriate.
There have been times when I have had plenty of money and no time.
Looking back at those periods all I can recall is constantly plotting my escape.
Equally, there have been plenty of times when I have been broke and had all the time I needed.
Sometimes these were days of desperation, when I was idle, frustrated and unable to write; at my most wretched.
Most of the time however, given time and peace, I filled those days with the creation of fictional scribbling.
I'll always choose time over cash, and peace over rushing around. There may not be roast beef on the Adley dinner table for a good while, but my soul will feel sustained.

cadley1 at

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