I’m starting to see that a passive nature often leads to a passive act of self-betrayal.
When I was a kid I had a very definite vision of what I was going to do when I grew up; of what I wanted to be. Initially it was a crimefighter. A superhero. The world can’t have too many of those and fighting evil seemed a perfectly legitimate way to spend one’s time. Note I say “spend one’s time” and not “earn a living”. Receiving monetary recompense for my future acts of derring-do didn’t ever occur to me. My motives were pure. This was just something I wanted to do and my vision was completely unsullied by any transactions of filthy lucre. Dosh wasn’t the important thing. What I wanted to do was.
Such wisdom in one so young.
As I got older I had a Father Christmas moment. That horrible epiphany that you get when you realize something you have long believed in and held dear is, in fact, an abject impossibility and not a little stupid for all its inherent idealism.
Crimefighting wasn’t going to work. Han Solo was unlikely to want to join my crimefighting gang and the government were unlikely to allow me unfettered access to an unlicensed lightsaber even if the science bods had been able to create one.
So I settled on writing. Being an author; a novelist. Through my teens and twenties this was transmuted into poet and now, later, older, it has reverted back to author.
Don’t get me wrong. I do consider myself a writer. I’ve written novels, scripts, articles, poetry, radio plays and joke letters. I suppose I am an author.
But I don’t consider myself to be leading an author’s life. Whatever that is.
When I was younger the vision I had of this author’s life didn’t entail daily battles against exhaustion, futility, frustration, despair, ennui or the many other vagaries of a 9 to 5 job. The vagaries of making a living that get in the way of the life we are trying to lead.
I daresay the life I have now is most definitely a real, genuine author’s life. My teenage vision was well wide of the true mark. That Father Christmas moment is damned necessary if any of us are to engage with reality and function properly as adults.
But I can’t help thinking that my younger, purer, infant vision was infinitely wiser: it is the choice of doing that is the most important thing, not the remuneration and how you achieve it.
Because it is the moment you reach out for that tightly bundled fistful of dollars that you drop the reins and the stagecoach that is you takes a lurch for the worst and, terrifyingly, speeds up.
It is the moment you pocket that cash that you find you have lost your way.