Friday, January 27, 2006

Writing - career or hobby?

Last night I met up with a friend who in the past had been a great help to me in my legal career - a kind of mentor I suppose. He is fun to be with, capable of turning a casual comment in to an interesting debate and I usually wave goodbye to him with a smile on my face. However, since my decision to cut down on my legal career and spend two days a week for six months working on a novel he seems to have transmogrified into a grumpy old man and I came home last night miserable.

It seems that writing is not working, however much effort and time you put in. It cannot be tiring or demanding. Dedication to a new fiction project is not akin to starting a new business or training oneself for a new career alongisde the old one. It is my hobby. And thus I am having days off (and by implication being indulgent and not serious about my career) and at some point I must 'go back to normal'. And no, it is not akin to him being a lawyer three days a week and being a golf pro two days a week because you can't be a part time golf pro and anyway he'd be employed to do that and I don't have a commission for the fiction.

Writing it now It looks such a ridiculous argument and I knew it at the time. But I still came home deflated and discouraged because don't we all want our friends to at least encourage us in our dreams even if they don't share them?

But I'm not going to stand for it.
Its my life and I am going to live it the way that is right for me and if he has a problem with than then tough. It's him who is as I write is putting in just one more day until retirement struggling through rush hour traffic to work for someone else when he'd rather be on a golf course. I am sitting with my feet against my radiator about to jump into the pleasure of creating something unique, about to spend my day working on whatever fulfills me today. If I succeed in getting published at some time in my life, I will have proved it was the right thing to do. If I don't get published I will die knowing that no one could say it I didn't take the opportunities that were given to me, that I didn't even try. I will die happy and without regret.
I only have one life and I am not going to live it trying to fit into someone elses mould.

Besides, when I think about it, he might not actually have the capacity you understand what I am doing. It might not be the best idea to ask a workaholic who never reads a non-law book to be my suporter in an endeavour to achieve a work-life balance that allows for more creativity and fiction writing. After all this is the man who has just chosen a book for his wife for Christmas. She is a woman who reads fiction of all kinds voraciously. Faced with a choice from an entire bookshop he bought her Steve Wright's Complete Book of Factoids. I may have come off lightly with Sharon Osbourne's autobiography - bought, in his own words, 'because it was the kind of book I knew you would never buy'. I am still trying to decide whether that means he deleiberately chose somthing he knew I woudn't like or whether to be charitable and view it as him trying to be sure he didn't duplicate a book in my collection and giving me an opportunity to broaden my horizons. I'll read it and let you know if said horizons were stretched. Either way, it is somewhat ironic that he described her as 'having an interesting story - she's had about six careers, all created when she wasn't entitled to do so from the situation she was in.' Psychologists among you - am I right to detect perhaps some subconscious envy going on here?

Still, even after I have reclassified his complete lack of empathy with my dreams as a kind of emotional disabilty and have replaced his snide dismissal of my dreams with sympathy for his poverty of imagination... I'm still mad at him for raining on my parade. But of course that is where the writer will always win becuase all I need do is pop him in a book. Only I will know that he has become the Asian shopkeeper who bullies his brother, or the Bishop who dismisses all his curate's ideas. And only I will know about the pleasure that ensues when all kind of nasty things happen to him.

So. Time to go and enjoy my days being a Novelist ( with a capital letter today as the equivalent of thumbing my nose at him.) I think I will start with some words games as a warm up. Let me see....
A is for asphixiation, B is for boiling in a vat of hot oil, C is for cutting up into tiny pieces...

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