The candle is lit, an Itunes play list boldly entitled “Writing Music” is playing and my Macbook stares at me, eagerly. It’s like a dog which anxiously petitions its owner, “Walkies? Walkies?”
Silently, though it’s just an inanimate object with one ‘command’ key missing and the screen a bit smudged, my laptop asks me: “Now? Will you write now? Is now the time?”
Yes, now is the time. Well not right at this moment because – hold your horses, Macbook! – I’m writing about it instead but yes, now is the time.
Last week, my full time marketing job ended. It concluded amicably: my contract was simply up. Since the beginning of the year, this has been my identity; my ‘bread-and-butter’ and my workplace which I loved.
It was my first “professional” job out of university. Of course, I’d had a myriad of jobs before: from cinema worker to video shop attendant and then sales assistant, jumping from clothes to designer stationary to furniture.
I had been a hospitality worker: once slaving away in bars till ungodly hours, coming home smelling like beer, and I had worked in promotions too: one time leaving a job at the Melbourne Cup at three in the afternoon because of my hay fever was so bad.
Yet this job – my last job – was something different. For one, it wasn’t a job which supported my studies. And two, it was something which was to do with writing.
Writing: anyone who reads this blog knows I’m crazy about writing, the way birds are crazy about building nests and base ballers are crazy about that little leather ball, perfectly designed for a giant mitt.
And that’s why I loved my last job: suddenly I was being paid to write. From media releases to copywriting to proofreading to writing Facebook statuses to other ‘miscellaneous’ jobs, this was awesome!
Suddenly, I appreciated “weekends.” Suddenly I was a ‘nine to fiver.’ There was no more study to be done: this was it, this was life! Coming to work every day in my role of ‘marketing assistant’ and gaining experience seemed one step closer to my ‘dream’ of being a “writer.”
While I worked by day, at night I came home and wrote.
I read a good book once, the Writer’s Imagination by Dorothy Bramble. It’s really helpful for writers wanting to get started on a book but may feel overwhelmed at the prospect. One of the things Bramble suggests is starting each morning, straight after waking, with half an hour of writing. A lot of writers do it.
As for me, I’ve tried it a few times but it never lasts. I’m a night owl, not a morning bird and getting up early to write doesn’t feel as comfortable as staying up a bit later to do it then.
Anyway, that unrelated interlude aside, I can tell you that I wrote at night. Posts for Stories of Geelong, posts on here, articles for To Those Born After. I wrote short stories: cutesy ones but also weird deep ones. I journalled, nonsense that would bore anyone else, I even wrote a letter to the editor to the Geelong Advertiser protesting against dogs who receive “bikini” waxing and excessive grooming. I worked on an epic novel I estimate will take me 4 billion years to write and I slowly worked on the project I’m about to tell you about. I’ll call it ‘Project Banana.’
That’s not actually the working title I have for the story, but for now it will do.
Sometimes I was a lunchtime writer, other times a ‘before dinner’ writer but the prospect of food was usually all too distracting. Usually I’d begin about 9pm and work till midnight, that kind of thing…
This isn’t that terribly exciting, for that please forgive me. Hopefully there will be more climax – maybe a Jehovah’s Witness cat carrying a Super-Soaker water gun who came to my door to meow at me, who knows.
Or maybe I’ll selling myself short because there actually has been a climax, or an anticlimax which at least has the word ‘climax’ in it. There has been change.
Change: change swept over me and cleared my desk away of the lovely office I worked in. The office where I was at liberty to make cup of teas, read the newspaper every day for free and learn stuff I never knew before.
The office where I was a full-time worker, my future (or foreseeable) gloriously secure. The job which gave me fortnightly money on my little blue plastic card, the job where I went to cafes and brainstormed with my colleagues. A job where the staff were friendly; where you said hello and goodbye each morning and – usually a lot more!
Proverbially speaking, to an opp shop nut like me, it was like the land of Milk and Honey. Opp shops were only a couple of minutes away, which made for great lunchtime outings. The Botantic Gardens were also nearby, and a host of cafes all serving wondrous focaccias. Yet, my time there was short. Being on a contract, leaving was always inevitable.
On my third last day I arrived to work and found hand-picked violets and a card pressed with glittery stickers on my desk. Later that day my colleagues and I went out for lunch and they gave me a black beaded necklace. Kindness upon kindness was dripped upon me in this position, something that only could have been God-given but that’s another story. Then it happened, like I knew it would always would. I cleaned my desk and finished.
I miss my work colleagues and they may miss me too but I know I’ll visit them again soon. And now, five working days later, I write from my “office” which is my study.
I continue to work, even though I’m not getting paid. Each day I get up and aim for at least 2000 words on ‘Project Banana’, that project I mentioned earlier.
Project Banana is now almost 30,000 words. It’s a fictitious work which I hope turns out to be my first published “novel.” It’s one of those books for children which hopefully will be for adults too. I’m not going to mention too much about it but I will tell you how it came about…
One night I dreamt something lucid, something crazy and, to me, something irresistible.
The dream had it all planned out, kind of: this loveable character who is in the most unexpected place!
In my dream, he was so alive: so tangible, like Shrek or something.
The next day, I scribbled down my dream in messy, ‘just-woke-up-handwriting.’
It occurred to me later that this could easily be a story, a novel. Something anyway. It was this jumbled but terrific thing which gave me an outlandish plot which I’m sure I could never have thought of: how could I not use it?
So, that’s what I’m doing. In a ‘fiscal’ sense I’m unemployed but have a little bit of savings which will tide me over till the next job. But Project Banana – potentially half-finished – is gnawing at me.
I have a zillion other ideas for projects I want to develop but I believe Project Banana deserves attention. Charles Dickens said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well” and I need to honour this project by bringing it to completion.”
Stephen King also says something wise, “Working on a new idea is kind of like getting married. Then a new idea comes along and you think, ‘Man I’d really like to go out with her.’ But you can’t. At least not until the old idea is finished,”
Anyway, now that I’m a “freelance writer” and learning to be disciplined and trying to teach myself to be a writing machine, that kind of thing, feel free to ask me this question when you see me: “How’s the writing going?”
To which I might gulp guiltily and tell you I’ve been distracted by fighting fish or the beauty of my neighbour’s tree now it’s blossoming or a corny Western song I’m learning on the piano.
Sometimes writers’ block doesn’t exist: sometimes it’s really writers just stupidly hiding from the very thing they love. Weirdness personified in this wacky group of people: Attenborough should do a documentary on us in our natural habitats, it’s all very weird.
If you’ve read this far, I commend you. Unfortunately I don’t have a climatic ending: I don’t even have much to write about because Project Banana is consuming my thoughts. And, until it’s done and I start working again, so it should!