Unless you earn your living from writing it’s a sure bet you’ve got to have a job. That’s because you have to eat and pay the rent in order to write. Writers are therefore like spies. They go to work but only in order to do their real job-Writing! They are not who or what they appear to be. And this may well go unnoticed by colleagues and clients. The fact is we are only pretending to be teachers, bus drivers, social workers and judges. It’s all to fund our dark secretive habit as riders of the imagination, observers and recorders of the peculiar, surfers of paradigms and creators of characters inhabiting wider created worlds. As a writer is it wise to, as it were, ‘come-out’? Personally I think we need to be careful about this disclosure. Why? because if you are like me you work your nuts off to get a project finished before deadlines then you write in the time left. If my employers knew, they might consider me defrauding them despite my delivery of their project in a timely fashion, they might want more of me. This, I find is in the nature of employers- VE MUZT IMPROVE EFFICIENCIES! VEE MUZT INTOLERATE VASTE!
Karl Marx apparently always had food remains in his beard but he was right about those owners of the means of production. So the ancient rule atop the entrance to the chamber of the Illuminati might be embraced by we motley clan of scriveners-whether garreted and starved or struggling to feed our muse amid the panoply of corporations-TO KNOW TO WILL TO DARE AND TO KEEP SILENT.
And be careful what job you choose. It is nigh impossible to steal away to whittle a quick sonnet off while labouring for a piece-work brickie. And call me controversial but these builders will not honour and respect your muse though they may feed your imagination.
No, a desk in a privatish office, a laptop and access to the internet are a good start. A bookcase helps. Long stints as a kerouakian fire warden in a remote national park are ideal. Night security jobs can be useful as long as there is no risk of being shot or taken hostage. We do not want real dramas at work because that would interfere with our creative ones. And then of course there are the jobs that are really not suitable for sharing with one’s muse. I do not want my brain surgeon obsessing over his latest gore-fest script or my pilot catching up on his reading on the night flight. I want them pinned and wedded to perfection in their work, ever alert and super-responsible. And of course actors, dancers, musicians, artists are their work!
So the next time you notice that solitary shelf-stacker with a dreamy look in her eyes or the street sweeper, silently reciting some rhythmic line or the taxi driver with the worn legal pad on the seat beside him; that could just possibly be the greatest living writer on the planet. Be careful what you say! Or you could just kill them!