You hear these stories about writers who went unappreciated throughout their lifetimes only to be discovered and internationally admired as literary geniuses posthumously. I love flirting with that idea. But as the starving aspiring artist Gordon discovers all too soon in George Orwell’s ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’, thinking about a writing career and loving to write does not get you paid.
I suspect that my current problem is that I enjoyed university a bit too much. Life after graduation doesn’t add up to what I’d expected it to be, even though I’ve worked hard. I have gone through three jobs – one was temporary, one restructured and the other I left. Why? The commute left me no time to make my dinner before going to bed, or breakfast before leaving the house.
While I was at university expected that I would get a great job in media and steadily work my way up to an editorial position at The Times. Unfortunately my plan has not swung into full speed. Yet. In fact, although I have a year of experience, I’ve now been working in retail for three months. All I can think at work is that there must be more productive ways to spend my time.
This morning I found a personal letter of recommendation from the editor of NME from my optimistic work experience days. But that jump from workie to staffer takes time, knowledge and dedication. I need a breakthrough, but I haven’t had it yet. All I can think to do is to keep on writing, keep on applying and keep on talking to people about it.
Once you’ve had a taste of money, it’s extremely hard to go back to handing out employed writers’ mail and getting them coffee for free while simultaneously living with your parents. But spending your waking hours talking about the shirt collar and colour options for anxious businessmen is definitely worse.
University was a taste of that creative freedom. Somewhere out there, there is a newspaper, website or magazine out there for me. One that I know will appreciate me and reward my creativity. It will be a publication that doesn’t need me to do work experience, leave London or work in advertising. Rather, it will be one that encourages me to express my opinions and frantically tread the pavements of London in search of a lead.
Orwell’s aforementioned hero Gordon discovers that his girlfriend is pregnant, gives up on the idea of literary success and prostitutes his writing talent for a career in advertising. Fortunately for me though, I have a while until I need to settle down. The newspaper, website or magazine of my dreams may well still find me and sweep me off my feet. Until then, unlike Gordon, I plan to keep looking rather than musing.