Sometimes I wonder if I will ever… shh. Don’t wonder too hard. You’ll wake it, and it needs a rest. So do I. It’s asleep, curled up in a cave somewhere in the Mariana Trench. Don’t worry. It’ll come back when it’s ready.
We’re not talking about this today. We can talk in generalities.
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever make my living by writing – and then I realise very swiftly that I don’t want to.
Oh, I dream. I wander along the banks of the Cam and wonder which house would be the best to live and write in. I think of having a studio with a balcony and looking out at the swans and ducks and rowers. I imagine how my books will change people’s lives. I daydream about being interviewed in my beautiful home, and all that guff.
In the mean time, I write on the train to work.
Here’s a confession. Even in that dream life, I still go to work.
I was talking about other people’s expectations early in this round. I think there are just as many levied on artists, of whatever ilk, as there are on everyone else. Just as everybody assumes that the temp can’t be happy until they’ve found a real job, everybody assumes that the artist must really want to chuck in the real world and devote themself to art.
It’s the dream, isn’t it? Chucking in the [soulless bullshit job] and giving the whole to [one’s vocation]. But is it really the dream?
I have a friend who, in his forties, left the air conditioning trade and went to university (which is where I met him) to study French, with the ultimate aim of becoming a teacher. He tried teaching, hated it, and is now back in air conditioning, although with a life much improved (or so I believe) in other ways. Meanwhile, my uncle has left teaching to become a lorry driver. (He’s also an extremely accomplished musician and photographer.) Life is, as ever, more complicated than that. And people vary.
Personally (and I know I was ranting about the conflation of these concepts earlier in the round, as well) I would no more like to be a full time artist than I would a full time mother. I like my day job. I like getting out of the house and going to the big city. I like interacting with amusing, knowledgeable people. I like my forty-five minutes of writing time on the train. (Hush. Hush. It’s all right. Not you. I didn’t mean you. Nobody’s writing anything more on you at the moment.)
Even if there were a way to earn a living by writing without the nicotine and/or alcohol dependence and chronic financial insecurity that characterised the only household I knew where anyone tried it, would I want to? I don’t think so. I am learning to take better care of myself than that.