Which was annoying, to say the least. Having done me the disservice of providing a happily normal childhood, with no neglect or pain to speak of – or, rather, write about – now they were going to deny me the pleasure of kicking against their conventional expectations (as in "Sha-na-na-na-na, get a job"). Well... Just to show them, I did get a job. Hah! And spent the next thirty-five years as the most ironic wage-slave and public servant the world has ever known: see, I could have been a writer, but I choose to do this!
I'm joking, of course, but there is an element of truth in my jest. It takes more than ability and ambition to break free of the invisible bounds of your upbringing, and live by your wits. Especially if you like the finer things in life, like three meals a day and more than one pair of shoes. In the romantic view, what it takes is that rare and dangerous thing, an inner hunger that refuses to be satiated and that will, if necessary, demand the sacrifice of everything that others value most highly – family and friends, comfort and stability, dependable income, even sanity. In the more prosaic view, what it takes is an even more rare and daunting trait: persistent, hard slog. A writer is a person who writes. The truth is somewhere in between, of course: a writer is a person who writes, even as their partner angrily slams the front door for the very last time. A writer is a person who writes, smiling inwardly at the sound of that slamming door... Finally, some peace. Finally, something juicy to write about.
Not a montage!
So, having failed, all those years ago, to become a driven monster of ego with a Stakhanovite work-ethic, I'm thinking of giving it a go in late middle-age. And why not? After all, if the 1000-plus posts on this blog average, let's say, 500 words, and the typical novel is around 80,000 words, then I've already written the equivalent of five or more novels, spread over seven years. Not a bad productivity rate. It seems the only thing standing between me and the Booker shortlist is another 160 posts, admittedly arranged in the right order, somehow thematically linked, and perhaps with a few of those awkward sex posts that might, with luck, also get me on the Bad Sex Awards shortlist. I give it a year!
And anyway, if nothing else, it would mean all those little jobs around the house will finally get done, as I seek out creative ways of putting it all off for another decade or two. As Peter Cook is alleged to have replied to a friend at a party who declared he was writing a novel: "Oh, really? Neither am I ..."
So, Happy New Year! In 2016 let's put the resolve back into "resolution" – I'll see you at the Daydreamer of the Year awards!
Daydream Believer ca. 1961