I often find it hard to sleep. Going to sleep is not a problem; staying asleep is the thing I find tricky. Thoughts amplify at night; they swirl and gather in corners. But those dark early hours, while the world slumbers and urban foxes bark beyond the window, are the best times to think of plans. In fact, the Grand Author Plan. (Oh yes, I haz one.)
I haven’t been writing much recently and it’s been worrying me. So far, since October, I have written three short stories (more about one, later), fiddled a bit with the novel, and thought up some ideas for more. That’s it... and it’s not enough, not nearly enough. My energy levels dissipate when I commute a long way and work full-time; this time last year I could do it – work during the day and write in the evenings – but now I come home and am fit for nothing. I try to stir myself to be creative but it is like stirring a pot of treacle, and the tired part of me wants to be left alone.
So what are my solutions here? As the dark night does throw me a bone, sometimes.
It seems they focus around my job – take that away, and the creative energy levels rise (as the money falls). But take it away and bang goes my chance of buying a property – mortgage providers love freelancers. In fact, take it away and can I afford to rent my own place, even? It depends what I swap the day job with – another full-time job closer to home? But would that a) pay as well, or b) be viable – the industry I work in is still shaky from the recession. And is swapping like for like worth the effort of change? It might buy me some commute time, but would I be just sticking a plaster over a still sore cut?
Or there is the freelancer route – which sounds attractive but is equally hard work - more so, when bills loom and you have to make it all happen. My experiences of working as a freelancer is like playing the Spectrum game ‘Pitfall’ (anyone remember that?) – desperately swinging from rope to rope, always looking for the next one to grab in order to save you from falling into the pit. I never felt I could relax – even when engaged on a contract I’d be thinking of the next, and the next, and what happens after that one, and this one.
I guess what it comes down to is that I’m scared of just going for it. Eep – I’ve admitted it. I’ve taken risks in the past with my writing – twice I have jettisoned everything in order to follow my dream, and twice I’ve crash-landed, to be honest. The first time I lost sight of my goal and settled for a job with the illusion of writing; the second time was beyond my control – personal circumstances and the recession meant I pretty much lost everything. I guess it is natural then to feel scared about going for it a third time (third time lucky?). If I was in my mid-twenties I probably wouldn’t be feeling this way, but add ten years and suddenly things like security look a lot more attractive.
I actually don’t know what the answer is. But maybe none of us do. It could be that I find somewhere to move to that is closer to the current day job, and this cuts out some commuter stress. As don’t get me wrong, I like the current job – it is probably one of the nicest full-time jobs that I have had. But time flies when you are busy doing something else. I think this is what scares me most of all.