How Following My Dreams Turned Me Into A Bum

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…

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8 responses to “How Following My Dreams Turned Me Into A Bum

  1. This isn’t too good for the ego and your status in society takes a nosedive…

    I sense this a lot from people as I tried to explain my work from home status. I once had someone (a virtual stranger) become quite irate with me when I tried to explain that I work exclusively from home. That as a web designer, my workplace is simply my laptop.

    He refused to believe me and kept pressing until I mentioned that I once had a loosely defined ‘meeting’ with a friend, at a coffee shop, to give them some advice about a website they were building. “There,” he replied, “you do have to leave the house to work.” All of a sudden, the incredulity drained from his face as my job finally seemed to make ‘sense’ to him.

    Sigh.

  2. Mike, that’s a lovely, very honest and strangely warming post (I hope that’s not my secret desire to see you fail kicking in! :)).

    I completely get everything you say in this post, especially the one about people secretly wanting you to fail. There’s something about us that wants to out compete the next person. It’s ingrained in our society, where life is “all about getting ahead”. I think that’s why most of us do or will, at varying points in our life, turn around and go “huh?”. Being in some way “better” than the next person is no sort of achievement to be proud of.

    I genuinely congratulate and respect you for your life change, and from a distance all I can see is that you and the family are happier than ever – you’re either living some sort of dream or you have a secret job as an very successful illusionist!

    As I’ve said before, I’m absolutely willing you to win. You’ve got the kahunas to do it, and if you can’t then none of us can. So I want you to succeed, and me to grow a pair!

    Stick at it mate, you’ll have ups and downs, and you’ll doubt yourself. Console yourself with the thought that you share all those feelings with those that have done great things in the past. Everyone doubts. And I’m told the thing that distinguishes those that are great from those that failed is the willingness to take that one more step when all seemed lost.

    You can do it mate.

    (also, read Stephen King’s On Writing – the first half of his story into writing will instantly perk you up!)

  3. From one bum to another: Keep living the dream life that’s why we took the red pill 😉

  4. Mike turn it around and say that you’re measured by short-term successes NOT failures. Your success is that you’ve achieved your first year, nearly finished the first 2 books, put food on the table and shoes on the feet of the children. BUT, who needs shoes when there’s sand to feel between your toes?

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