I haven't written a blog post in what is coming up to six months and, for that, I can only apologise to anybody who cares. I could give a whole host of reasons as to why I haven't - an integral one being that there was little I wanted to passionately write about, blog-wise. I do write daily, working on my scripts where my true passion lies. I also came to a point, in light of my struggles with balance that I had to weigh up my priorities. Again, working on scripts was victorious.
Even writing this blog has been something I've put off. I feel like it could help someone, encourage someone, potentially inspire. But similarly, there is absolutely no reason for anybody to care. I think that's something that's played a part in my lack of blogging. In the social media age, there are so many people sharing opinions that nobody could care any less about. What makes me any different? The reason I write - and why I choose to primarily write screenplays/stageplays - is because I am not at the forefront. I speak vicariously through my characters. I am not held accountable. And, frequently, many of my characters views are not my own but, instead, varying perspectives to be considered, as opposed to be boldly imposed upon an audience. Even as I write right now, I'm questioning my angle, what I'm trying to achieve, what I'm trying to tell. I guess this answers the question as to why I write anything, that burning desire within to tell a story that I feel so passionate about that I won't be satisfied until it is written.
So here it goes, on July 10 2014, I finally left my part-time retail job of nineteen months.
At the start of 2014, I decided to do something a close friend of mine always does at the turn of the year: write down my five aims for the year. I'm not much of a resolutions person but I liked the idea of this. It gave me the opportunity to reflect over what I'd like to achieve with consideration of how realistic it was to achieve certain goals. This reminds me of a quote I very much love:
"Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years." - Bill Gates.
It's no secret to anybody who is close enough to me the incredible amount of pressure I put upon myself, coupled with the high standard I demand of myself to achieve. It was no different in setting these aims, one of which was to leave my job. There was a bonus point for leaving by June - which I think I deserve half of as that was when I handed in my notice. Early in the year I booked a holiday for December/New Year's Eve; for those who have worked in retail, you will know there is a blanket rule that you are not permitted to book holidays in this month. After all, consumerism rules all, no more prevalent in the yuletide month. So I was definitely leaving. As 2014 continued to tick on, I remained ever-weary of the bonus point, leaving in June...
In an ideal/dream world, leaving in June would be a comfortable circumstance birthed from selling a script and there were reasons to believe that to be very plausible. But, like all things in this industry, nothing is guaranteed without a signature on the dotted line. Though I don't like to publicly discuss my faith, it definitely played a part in my decision-making. I continued to consider the decision I knew I wanted to make and pray about whether I was doing the right thing. Why did I want to quit my job? Because it sucked and was driving me mad. Was that a good enough reason? Was I making up or giving too much credit to the little signs that were making me think that quitting would be the right decision? Who knows. Friends continued to encourage me to do it, to take a leap of faith, that faith itself requires action, and trust that there is a not-so-visible net at the bottom of that free-fall.
The tipping point was reminding myself of my intentions going into the job. This job would not take over my life. The moment I leave the doors of the store, I return to life. I do not take the job home with me. The job is a means to an end, to pay my bills and, where possible, finance my productions as well as my vices. The moment the job began to go home with me and affect my life, it's time to cut ties. This began to happen long before I made the decision. The truth was, it took it noticeably affecting my writing for me to let it go. As mentioned earlier, I more or less write daily and that wasn't something that changed. The quality of my writing didn't particularly change either.
The problem was the lack of progress which, I believe, was a by-product created by the comfort the job gave me. I needed to feel the pressure again. I needed to feel like I had nothing else but this writing thing to live off of. I needed to be immersed in my writing, to be in my element, I needed to be writing. That sounds so incredibly corny and cliché but there really is no better way to put it. I hadn't become stagnant, but I wasn't doing enough. My first - and only - short film, was made in 2011. I've written short films since. I've almost had at least two made. In fact, one was ten days away from production before falling apart. Woe. Not all is doom and gloom, I've had plays showcased since, things in production as we speak and other things that I'm not allowed to talk about. But all in all, it has not been enough. Again, coming back to that incredible amount of pressure I put on myself, the contrast being that most would say all I have achieved in my writing journey thus far - especially in so short a timescale - is much to be incredibly proud of. For me, not enough.
It was time to return to that life which I can only refer to by a made-up word: immersification. You get the gist. Material objects aren't a big thing to me. I'm happy surviving, it's the sacrifice I made to be able to pursue my dreams. With time, as a consequence of my dedication to the dream, I anticipate that those things will eventually come. And, though ultimately my intentions are to make money solely from writing film, TV, plays (and random musings for magazines/newspapers/websites/publications etc. as a by-product of my success in the former), I was ignoring the fact that on the side of my retail job, I had been earning by doing little bits of freelance writing here and there, because people knew I could write. Friends continued to push me to monetise this properly. Pays better, less stress, less time-consuming (which means more time to be working on my scripts) and something I enjoy. Yet, until now, I ignored them. Again, the blame lies with the comfort the job had given me. The regular income.
Eleven days on from leaving my job and I feel happy. I feel joy. To an extent, I feel peace. I also feel anxiety. Nervous. And some other stuff. A cocktail of emotions. And I'm slowly but surely transitioning into the life of freelance writing (copywriting, blogging and many more skills I have in my locker - check my LinkedIn if you don't believe me and/or want to hire me!). The hope is to earn a comparable amount to the retail job. But enough to survive is absolutely fine by me. Writing, and getting by along the way. I still feel a bit on edge, it feels weird to no longer have the pressure that I was under in my job (to put it in context, it was a phone shop, commission-based and high pressure to hit targets). I don't mind pressure. In fact, I believe I thrive under it. But it damn well better be in something I love. Not that I believe that we all should do something that we love. We all can, but we shouldn't. The world, like anything else, requires its cogs to function. There are very few who are cut out for pursuing what they love and fight the battle. Here's to hoping that I am.
Sometimes in life, you have to take a risk. What is security anyway, who's to say it truly exists? People get made redundant everyday. We're all working for someone and relying on them to keep us in a job. A continued pressure. In the case of writing, and creative endeavours in general, that pressure is far more visible. So, when all is said and done, why not have this pressure doing something you love?
Security itself, as a social construct, is something I believe that we all innately crave and I am no different. But imagine what lies before us waiting to be achieved and obtained if we just take a risk and believe?
What's the worst thing that could happen, that things didn't go right? How typical of society, its cynicism and pessimism in full-swing that we always reflect over what the worst that could happen.
What's the best that could happen? Only time will tell...
Currently listening to: Black The Ripper - My Destiny (this song has been in my head for the last few months, looking forward to be able to scream the opening lyrics "I quit my job the other day, people say I'm gonna regret it..." as well as many of the other sentiments in the song)