Since making the radical decision, just over a year ago, to leave a well-paying job and concentrate on my dream of writing funny novels, I have become a bum. Yes, I have a sideline business that earns a bit of money but my eggs are pretty much in the one empty basket at the moment. This is one of the most honest blog posts I’ve ever written.
This is quite a sobering reality and to anyone that has made a similar move in their life, they will know what I mean. I went from a qualified, professional, management role in a large company to sitting on my own every day writing bollocks that I hope, some day, people will enjoy. I have a young family that look to me for food and shelter, like a nest of starlings, and all daddy comes home with is the rough end of a worm.
This isn’t too good for the ego and your status in society takes a nosedive. You realise that you become the person that everyone else wants to fail. Not that they’ll say that to your face. No, you become an inspiration to them, a shining light that will lead the way out of their hum-drum existence. But they’ll never leave that life and they’d love it if you fell down a big hole and were eaten by twenty foot tigers, because then they’d be able to feel relieved that they didn’t take the step themselves.
Like with everything, there is a choice. Choose to have an easier life by getting a conventional job, which people can use to pigeon hole you, (this makes people feel comfortable, it’s a tribal thing) and turn up to it each day and get paid. OR, opt out, do something you love, something risky, become the broken arrow and watch how quickly people’s reactions change.
Writing has a long term game plan. You don’t write for a year and then suddenly become a millionaire who can turn around to their doubters and say ahhhhh. Instead it’s going to take years. You need a number of books behind you before you can really start to make a living and that takes time. In the meantime, before you can answer, “yes, I have a best selling series on the New York Times list and I happen to live between here and the Caribbean,” you’ll have to get used to appearing like a bum. The irony is that I work harder now than I’ve ever worked in my life but from the outside-in it looks like all day Happy Hour.
Bills come by the month. Food has to be bought almost daily. Kids school trips, shoes, uniforms and books can’t be put off until next year. I have responsibilities that I don’t take lightly. I may appear to be a bum but I’m a responsible bum. However, the fact is that I’m living a beautiful, long-term dream and I’m measured by short-term failures. That takes a resilience that I’m only just beginning to appreciate. It requires an overwhelming faith in myself and a level of self-confidence that is almost super-human.
With the new digital publishing revolution, we are allowed to believe that the market will be saturated, by novice writers giving up their safe life to follow their dreams, but I can tell you from the other side that it takes a great deal of a kahunas to appear like a bum without being one. Most people will not have the mustard for it and choose the safe line. Sometimes I wish that was me.
If you’re a bum, and you read this post, then show this bum some love. Oh, not that sort…