Over the past four years, I’ve written thousands of words about chasing your dreams, all the while not having the gumption to do it myself. Until now.
Not that long ago, I walked into my boss’s office and quit. He wasn’t expecting it and seemed genuinely surprised that anyone would walk away from such a lofty journalistic position. Little did he know that I’d been planning my exit for a very long time. I just didn’t have the balls to do it – or the female equivalent, which I presume is ovaries, but doesn’t quite have the same gravitas does it?
I’d long dreamed about throwing caution to the wind so I could be a “proper writer” but the risks always seemed too great to me. Could I make enough money to pay the bills? What if my dreams of being a successful writer are just that, and I’m really only mediocre with as much talent as a seventh season reality TV contestant who has 25 seconds of fame and then disappears to work in a fish and chip shop in a rural or remote region?
But over the past 12 months, my desire to take the leap from being a regular nine to fiver with a consistent income and morph into (in my mind) an avant garde penniless writer grew and grew. Long-term followers of this blog will know that elements of the past year have been about as much fun as a bad case of gastro whilst on a long overdue holiday in an exotic location.
As a family we’ve continued on the longest of goodbyes with our mum who has Alzheimer’s, I lost two aunties in relatively quick success, my relationship finally broke down after careening to an ending that should’ve happened months before if I’d only I’d had a better understanding of what’s okay and what’s not, and I realised that an extrovert like me isn’t suited to a job that required me to sit on my (ever-expanding) arse almost every day sub-editing thousands of words, which will be fashioned into a magazine, with very little contact with the outside world. Lucky I’m a terminal optimist otherwise I could’ve ended up a tiny bit depressed.
When life throws you so many curve-balls it’s like being in a never-ending game of world series baseball, I think you can either jump over the edge or let yourself be pushed. Sure, I’ve had a few moments of morbid introspection – especially last week when I found out I didn’t get into a prestigious film school so I could become a better screenwriter – but wallowing in my own despair just makes me look old, wrinkly as well as sad. And who wants to shag someone who looks like that?
So, I realised that I was sick of writing earnestly about chasing your dreams from the safety and security of a steady, yet creatively unfulfilling, job with a weekly pay-cheque. It made me feel like a fraud and I also knew that my creativity was simultaneously leaking out of me like tears of regret. So I pulled the pin.
I start my new life in February and I’m filled with a weird psychological mesh of excitement, liberty and fear. The fear is about not earning enough from my own endeavours to keep me fed and watered. But one of my friends, who has to be one of the most motivational people who has ever lived, told me the other day that I’ve actually been doing that for years already – just for someone else. That made me feel better.
I’ll still need to work as a journalist, but freelance so I can hopefully pick and choose who I work with and what I write about. I’m thinking of going to work in a book shop now and then too. Just to be with other creatives and be surrounded by the published books that my dreams have long been made of.
Most of all, I’m going to write. I’m going to finally finish my screenplay, and then write another one. I’m going to make short films with my cousin and approach publishers about this blog, which now has nearly 100,000 words and an awesome following (that’s you!) And, like 20 years ago, I’m going to go wherever I want and experience it all so that my writing, and me too, becomes more complex, more adventurous, more everything.
So what started out like a risky business to me, now seems more like carpe diem. And if a significant life choice already has a Latin phrase associated with it, well, that’s got to mean something, right?