Everyone in my life knows me as Tory when they like me, so I know I’m in trouble when I get called Victoria. This song is basically a three-minute life crisis for me.
What? What did I do??
“Victoria, you definitely came into this room for a reason, what was it?”
“Victoria, did you seriously just make yourself a sandwich for work and then lose it between the kitchen and the living room?” (Answer: yes, yes I did. Turned out I somehow immediately threw it in the bin. I am not a morning person.)
But by far the most frequent question I ask myself is the plaintive, frustrated:
“Victoria, what the hell are you doing?”
I’ve asked it a lot over the last year or so.
Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I suppose I should say “making a living by writing”, because there’s never been anything to stop me from picking up a pen or keyboard and arranging some words. This is not a very practical ambition. IF you have a talent for it and IF you can do it fast enough and IF you can reliably think of marketable ideas and then realise them… you still might never get anywhere with it because the other major factor in success as a writer is pure, elusive luck.
Frankly, if I didn’t have a burning, overriding, ridiculous urge to do it, I would think it was bloody stupid.
At school and university, I tried really hard to find a more realistic career option to aspire to. I did research. I did work experience. I did internships. I took a job after I handed in my last piece of university coursework, two months before I actually graduated. I was sensible for quite a long time.
Then I did something stupid.
In early 2014, I left a job I really didn’t like, in a field I wasn’t interested in and only got into by accident. It was a very serious job in a serious office building where a lot of serious people wore suits and carried serious files around with them. Some of the serious people were very nice, and actually not that serious at all, but I didn’t fit in there very well. I also couldn’t really explain to anyone what my job was, which was more depressing than I would have expected.
“So, what do you do with approximately a third of your waking hours?”
“Erm… stuff. At a desk. Sometimes I get coffee from a machine.”
Leaving this job wasn’t the stupid part. I had the money saved to job-hunt for a month or two and, since the parameters of my job search were “any full-time job that won’t make me cry when I have to get up in the morning”, I was pretty confident I’d find something.
I diverged from this plan.
I don’t remember exactly how it happened. I remember I got a bunch of books about writing from the library. One of them, in the introduction, probably just as a throwaway comment to help get you sufficiently motivated to read the rest of the book, said something like “Imagine being on your deathbed and regretting that you never got round to writing your novel.”
Here’s how I imagine the author thought readers would react to that:
“Gosh, no, I wouldn’t want that. That would be unfortunate. I suppose I should give writing a try, perhaps with the aid of a quality publication like this! By jingo, I’ll take it!”
Here’s how I reacted to that:
“Oh my God oh my God oh my God what if I go my whole life always meaning to become a writer one day and I never do and then I die? I’ll be old in like fifty years THAT DOESN’T LEAVE MUCH TIME OH GOD I CAN FEEL MYSELF AGEING AND FAILING AS I READ THIS.”
Or words to that effect.
And I remember making a spreadsheet (because I’m a mess of irrational anxiety but HOT DAMN do I love a spreadsheet) where I worked out how much money I needed to not starve or be homeless and then how many hours I would need to work at a realistic hourly rate to achieve that. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not “all of them”.
I remember applying for a pretty good part-time job I thought I probably wouldn’t get and then getting it.
I was giving myself a chance to be a writer. I was having a sort of gap year, except instead of backpacking around New Zealand like my sister did, I was going after the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do. It was exciting.
I remember it seeming like a perfectly good idea at the time. I also remember freaking the f**k out ever since.
Coming soon (because this post is getting long), Part II: The Panicking.
Also, hey, regular readers, how was this for you? I realise that I’ve tried a whole bunch of different stuff on this blog lately (shouty movie recaps, attempting to comment on social issues and now rambling about my life). Do you prefer any of those things to the others? Or should I just keep making this stuff up as I go along?