I am sick of not being successful, completely and utterly bored out of my mind with the idea of not being who I know I can be. I mean, I thought I’d be there by now. I had a ten year plan. I made lists. I consulted self-help books. I visualised and I created vision boards and I thought positively and… Yeah, no, definitely not successful yet. So who do I have a word with about that? Is there like, I don’t know, a manager or someone I could consult with? Did my wishes go to the wrong address? Is there a delay? Will I be refunded? Who do you blame when your wishes don’t come true?
And I’m trying. I’m trying so hard. I rock a crazy schedule, working and writing and editing and pitching and pushing everything forward, across the gravel with my nose, but it’s like I’ve hit a wall. Of lava. And I have no idea where this metaphor is headed, so let’s just say that the metaphor is a metaphor for me. I have no idea where I’m headed. I’m running blind, just hoping and wishing and tripping over shadows.
You know what sucks about the freelance world? You could pitch something that you think is perfect. It’s completely typo-free and just their style. You’re enthusiastic, complimentary, brief, explanatory, basically all the good stuff that gets an editor going, but two days after the pitch, the rejection hits your inbox like a freaking anvil. Why? WHY?! WHY DO YOU NOT WANT ME?! Who knows, man? You certainly don’t because they’re not telling. So you tweak and pitch, tweak and pitch, over and over until you get accepted or go insane. Or both. Usually both.
Sometimes I think that I just want to give up and lie on the sofa and stuff Pringles in my face. I want to watch reality TV and cuddle my dogs and just not care anymore. I’ve been writing at least one thousand words a day every day for the past year and a half. Some days I don’t want to, and I debate with myself, whether it’ll matter in the long run, and I think hard about taking just one night off, but I don’t. I write. And I’m glad I did, because I know that one day turns into two, turns into a week, turns into a month, a year, a lifetime. I know that momentum is something that’s hard to get back. And I know that what I’m doing is working. I’m improving. I’m tallying up the little things that would have been big two years ago, but now they’re mundane. I should be grateful. I should be happy.
Neil Gaiman once said something, and I can’t find the exact quote, so I’ll paraphrase. Hey, maybe some of you wondrous research types could track it down? Basically it was about some advice he’d been given. The advice was to enjoy it. Don’t waste your time at the top freaking out about falling. You need to look around while you’re up there, admire the view, be thankful that you got so far, and marvel at how it was possible. But Neil Gaiman, like most human beings, ignored that awesome advice, panicked and worked like a nutcase scrambling to stay up there. I can imagine doing that. When you get somewhere you’ve always wanted to be, the worst thing in the world would be to have it taken away from you. But if you’re freaking out, you’re not enjoying it, so is it worth all the fear and the blind flailing to get to another location where you’re just doing what you did all the way up? Well if it’s good enough for Neil Gaiman…
I just want to get somewhere so different from where I am. I’ve thrown all of my previous dreams out the window. Screw marriage, (he never showed) screw kids, (just NO) screw illustrating, (I have no talent) screw teaching, (I don’t get on very well with grown-ups) screw everything that doesn’t involve putting words in the right order, because it’s all I want. I want a hardback copy of the inside of my mind. I want people to step into worlds I’ve unlocked for them. I want to make people feel all the things. I want to make people think and understand and talk and want. I want my scribbles to mean something. I want to inspire people to be the person that they can be, to be brave, to jump, to fly. I want to do exactly what other writers did for me. I want to teach people to believe in magic and hope and other people. I want them to breath in pages and feel all of their worries drop with their shoulders when they step inside a book shop. I want to help, and this is my way.
So I could just give up, shut up and sit down. I could just lie on the sofa and say maybe tomorrow and let time drip and drip and disappear. But I won’t. I have thought so many times that if I’m not successful by thirty, I’m out. I’m not cheapening suicide here, I mean it. This possible future is what I live for. I have tried to kill myself a few times before. Obviously I’m still here, and I am so, sooo grateful for that. I wouldn’t swap what I’ve known and felt and had for oblivion, not now. But I know that feelings come back, that darkness rises up if you feed it, that your life can short circuit if you let it. There will be days when it seems like the right thing to do, and there will be days when nothing could be better than being alive in that moment. In the words of a great man, “life is a rollercoaster”. So yeah, sometimes things get heavy and life gets hard, but I’m not done yet. I just need to remember that Kurt Vonnegut was a late literary bloomer, and as long as I’m alive, there’s always time.