24th March, 2010.
On Giving Up
Well, it is ten years to the day as far as I can reckon since I quit my job to write a book, and that seems an auspicious time to announce - no, admit - that I'm giving up on my extremely half-arsed aspiration to be a novelist.
During those five months back in 2000 I wrote 30,000 words and played a lot of Starcraft. I experimented with sleeping during the day and working during the night; I flipped out on LSD; and I was shot at by my neighbour. The most enduring thing to come from that period was that my cooking improved by great leaps. 'Rick Stein's Seafood Odyssey' was shown at noon, I'd roll out of bed and I'd watch it with a notepad ready.
Since then I have written a drift of stuff on scraps of paper, notebooks and the backs of envelopes - just like a real writer, and just like everyone else - but I never got around to really putting it all together.
And do you know why?
It's because it's really hard work to produce a published novel, and I don't have the drive or passion to go through all that shit.
Not only do you have to write a manuscript, you have to shop it to agents or (far less likely) publishers. Then, if they look at it, you have to do rewrites n times. Then, because this takes a couple of years, the market will shift and they won't publish it after all.
Luckily you're usually saved that pain by just being rejected again and again.
Ok, ok, *say* you get published. Do you know how much the average author earns? SFA. Say $8K if you do well.
$8K for two plus years work isn't enticing.
But, ahhh!, you say: you're not in it for the money, but for the love of it.
Well maybe *you* are but not me.
I kinda think that if I loved writing then I would have done something close to the 10,000 hours someone needs to do to become an expert at something. Over ten years that is 2-3 hours a day, every day.
And that's just for a shot at the title (pun). That's not a guarantee of success - you still have to be lucky.
And, sure, people do get published and make a living, but people also win lotto.
I haven't done the sums but it is tempting to think that instead of going through the agony of writing something that nobody wants, how about just get a job and turn those wasted hours into cash that you then spend entirely on lottery tickets.
After ten years you might crack the big one, as they say.
Also, there is less chance of cracking the shits, as they say, and running round the streets bludgeoning randoms with an axe-handle.
I guess it all comes back to that excellent movie 'Office Space' from the late nineties. The plot revolves around an unhappy office drone, Peter, who realises that life should be on his terms - and he starts dictating those terms. Through this process he becomes happy.
During a heart-to-heart with coworkers he tells of the careers advice he received at school. They asked the kids "If someone gave you a million dollars, what would you do with it?" and if you said you'd buy a car and do it up, then you were meant to be a mechanic. If you said you would invest it on the staock exchange then you should be a broker.
'So, what did you say', asks Peter's friend.
'I said 'Nothing'. I would do nothing'.
You know what the best bit of those five months in 2000 were? Watching Rick Stein.
No, that doesn't mean I should become a chef - I tried being a cook and it was the most stressful job I've ever had.
What it means is that I enjoyed doing what I wanted to do and that didn't look ANYTHING at all like work.
If someone gave me a million dollars I would do nothing too. Heck, I'm doing nothing now: rent's paid til June; I just bought tickets to 14 shows of the comedy festival; and I got a whole library of books to read.
It's not giving up - it's biting the bullet.
7th June 2010
On Not Giving Up
So, I wrote the above in a funk in late March, and I happily packed everything away in boxes and didn't think about it for a month or so.
Since then three things occured to me:
a) The above was actually quite well written.
b or 2) Something about being a spineless and lazy little girl/This being one of those test of character things I keep hearing about/Something inspirational bordering on the trite.
b part 2 (or 2 part b)) Um, how about trying doing something that actually is actually hard like being a nurse or a gigolo specialising in the handicapped or something, you tool? No? So, shut up. qv 'spineless girl'.
c) What _else_ am I going to do for funnsies, really?
d) All of the above.