Welcome to “the game” writers, I hope you have a pen…
There was an employment survey of millennials done the other day that sent the cold, mean and twisted fear of death through me – it turns out, the little buggers, bless their stupid faces, all want to become writers. I’m a writer, I’ve been merrily drifting under the radar for almost two decades, being a vague approximation of a writer, randomly chucking words together and scurrying home honking to myself with a bag of money, so this news bodes appallingly badly. The game may even be up. Because look at them and then look at me, and then look at them again. They’re go-getters with gym bodies and raw naked ambition, I’m a man who wouldn’t know a coherent metaphor if it hit me in the curtains. It won’t be long before everyone realizes that any fool with a keyboard can do this, so congratulations young people, you’ve cottoned on to the best kept secret out there, please enjoy the spoils that come with it. Namely…
The comforting sound of silence – you thought you knew silence. You might have sat at the top of a hill in the middle of a cold winter night, deserted in a deep, unrelenting silence, a manic silence that shrieks all around you, but I’m talking about a silence that is so overwhelming it’s almost an emotional deafness. A silence that engulfs you like a billowing person-shaped smokecloud. A silence that even dogs can’t hear. What am I on about? I’m basically talking about when you send off a load of ideas that you think are amazing, and don’t hear back from anyone. That kind of silence. The kind of absolute silence that Trappist Monks wish they knew.
The scatter-cushion approach to how a day should work – okay, you thought you got it. Morning was for showers and brekkie, mid-morning work, then some lunchtime, afternoon work, and then nighttime was when you ate or had sex. WRONG. That’s literally all wrong. None of that exists to you once you board the “I’m a Writer” boat heading for Writer Island – the only days you have there are deadline ones, and everything else is just an endless stream of typing haphazardly, mumbling to yourself, making dog yapping noises for no logical reason, staring longingly out of windows or at walls, and once in a very frequent while attempting to smash through a mental block the old fashioned biblical way, of which no one should ever speaketh. Holidays, days off, evenings out – all signs of weakness. And also signs of having money.
The blissful seizing of the day that comes with barely sleeping – one interesting way to seize the day is to lie in bed with your eyes fully open in the middle of the night mentally dictating your next great piece to yourself, or having a fantasy conversation with Jonathan Ross about your forthcoming book, which has been described as “basically Harry Potter again”. It doesn’t matter that all of this is ultimately pointless, it’s a great way to ensure that you don’t ever feel truly alive, like the way they do in aftershave adverts, or in literally any other adverts for that matter. Even “have you shattered your collarbone at work” ones. At least they were at work, doing something with their collarbones.
The intriguing mixture of total glee mixed with insane panic – remember when you were young and you found out that your crush actually liked you back? There was that strange cocktail of a very genuine anxiety attack, like you wanted to sprint across a field or jump through a closed window or literally tear your face off your own skull, mixed with a cool sexual awakening, as you realized that one of your wildest fantasies might somehow come true. Times all of those things by about five, and that’s a bit like what it feels like when you get commissioned to write something you desperately want to write. You’re all like WHAAA? HOW? Like WHEN? WHAT NOW? WHERE’S MY PENIS? Oh God. And then you do it, and it’s all, OKAY COOL, I totally just did that.
The heart-warming appreciation of tiny bullshit little things – a trick that lots of writers have learned over their time is to end with something earnest. Do the equivalent of a clown removing their make up and their gigantic shoes, and saying “but seriously” before moving calmly into an anecdote that moves you to your very core. That’s what this paragraph is (minus an anecdote), it’s my “but seriously” because “but seriously” being a writer is probably the best thing you can do, and you should all want to do it because it’s a terrific job. I adore it with every fibre of my being, even the hard-to-find fibres in the no-mans-land between my balls and my anus. It’s got some wicked vibes, and when it goes well you feel like you’ve been snogged by a thousand angels. Or like, one jumbo hot one.