Can you remember the point in your life when you thought, “I want to make a living from writing”?
Whether it be paid blogger, an article writer, a journalist, a novelist or screenplay writer; was there an actual clear as a bell lightning strike from the creative heavens?
It’s difficult not romanticise yourself gently placing down your finished copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and staring off toward the setting sun, breathing the words, “I hear your words Mr Fitzgerald and I answer your call. I will take up your mantle and write the next great American novel.”
When your realisations set in, what were your original ambitions? A best selling novel? A blog followed by tens of thousands? A syndicated column in the New York Times? Money? Personally, when I realised I wanted to make a living from writing I envisaged myself, within a matter of months, regaling the New York literati with heady tales of teenage life in South Wales. I actually imagined myself chatting with the author of Catch 22, “Oh yes, Joseph Heller, you could say that times were moving fast and urgent decisions were to be made. The lure of literature was too strong, I had to succumb to my muse. I didn’t write this book/article/blog post, it demanded to be channelled.”
The reality, unfortunately, is probably a lot more mundane. You’d probably just finished an average novel with a poor, rushed ending whilst on your third glass of wine and tossed the tome casually to one side cursing the time you had wasted on it. Or maybe you went slightly crazy over the grammatical errors in a three thousand circulation free ad newspaper. You maybe considered sending a four page letter cataloguing the myriad apostrophe catastrophes throughout the rag then shouted to the heavens, “GOOD GOD! I could do so much better than that. You know what, I am going to start a blog, TONIGHT.”
Of course, now the ambition touch paper had been lit and you now have the obsessive compulsion to began scribbling down your observations and thoughts on every scribeable surface and then storing them in the least obvious places imaginable. For example, you wake up on an idle Tuesday and decide to post a blog entry. But wait, where are those dialog sections I transcribed from memory in the toilet of a Gas Station? Oh yes, I wrote it in nail varnish on a napkin and put in my sock. And where are the notes from my chance meeting with Robert Downey Junior in a hot air balloon over the Serengheti? Oh yes, they’re in my impossibly complicated filing system that consists of a twenty seven shoe boxes at the bottom of my spare bedroom closet cross referenced by importance, saleability, cleverness, funniness and neatness of handwriting. Oh, and if you can’t find that one five line note that completes the masterpiece of your third personal blog post, your YouTube comments would become especially vitriolic that day.
My own journey was a lot more simple. I was a pretentious teenager for all the wrong reasons. I had read a little Voltaire, a lot of Twain, loads of Shakespeare, a pinch of Heller, far too many trashy newspapers and watched too much TV to have a balanced view on reality. Also, I read a LOT of comics which obviously deeply affected my attitude toward every day situations. With these influences fuelling my somewhat erratic to approach toward my future intentions, I inwardly began to shape my destiny. Or destinies, I should say. At any one point in my younger days I imagined myself to be a professional Soccer Player, a TV and Film Actor / Director, a Model (that’s where my imagination really fooled me), an architect, a doctor, an Archeologist (thanks Indiana Jones), a Smuggler (and yes, thanks Han Solo) and a Journalist. And all this was before I had actually left my bedroom and ventured to my sanctuary, the library. As a teenager with too much time on his hands, varied and bizarre information sources equal unchecked ambition and rampant, misguided egomania. This was followed by the crushing realisation that you were not, in fact, superhuman but simply a teenage boy with a feverish imagination desperately in need of an outlet.
So writing it was, and writing it remains. And whilst my ambitions have become certainly more tempered as the years have passed, my passion remains undimmed. As does my belief that one day I will discover my real superpower.