I have this difficult mindset that I can’t seem to shake and doubt I ever will. It basically goes something like this: what am I doing, could I do more and am I doing enough?
So I moved to Edinburgh just over two weeks ago now and I’m starting to get used to the place. I know where my house is, I’ve got used to the rooms, the spaces, the way the cooker works, the fridge and then outside; where the supermarkets are, where the bookshops are, where the various libraries are… now I’m onto exploring the side-streets trying to find the quirky studios and hangouts, out of the way bookshops and other places. Then there’s the mind-numbing bureaucracy; council tax, benefits, jobseekers, electoral register, doctors, dentists… these have taken up the majority of my time here so far, passing documents from one center to the next, not really knowing what is written on the paper or what it means, just knowing that I have to give it to that man over there, now sit over here, come over here talk to this woman, see this man, go up two flights of steps…
But that’s almost done now. Apparently, all I have to do is wait for the letters to come through (which will take 3 weeks, or something) and then do whatever needs to be done when they come through. As such, at the moment, I have no idea where I am money-wise, and that scares me.
I’ve always been the careful sort with money, and this ‘trip’ – moving away from home into the city to engage with other writers and the artistic community – was always going to be difficult. When I left I left with the impression that I might very well be back within a few months, so I’d planned to be as careful with my money as I could, but the circumstances have now changed. This is a good thing, a great thing, but it’s thrown my arrangements into disarray. I now have more money but I don’t know how much more and wont know for a good few weeks. I don’t know how much help they are going to give me. This is problematic in that I like to keep a close eye on my in-comings and out-goings and, at the moment, it’s looking a bit of a mess. I’m sticking to my budget but that was based on the old system, the system is now changing so I can afford to alter my budget, but I currently have no financial foundation. The floor is uneven, cracked, even broken in some places, and though I know the structure to be more than strong enough to hold my weight I still hesitate in places.
I guess the other thing I want to add is that you have to give to get. I’ve known this for a long time, a very long time, but this seems to change slightly in the city. There is a larger focus on money. you want to get in with this crowd, then you have to be at this even that costs this much. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with charging, just that it can be a bit of a dodgy area when it comes to writing. There’s money in writing. Not in being a writer, but in being a publisher, or a tutor, or a lecturer (so it seems) and it’s an industry because there are a lot of people out there that want to/think they can write. Tutoring helps, courses help, but I’m not quite sold on the idea that writing can be taught. That could be interpreted as me being big-headed, but it’s not, because I’ve been beginning to wonder whether I’m one of those people that think they can write, or want to be able to write, but can’t. The more I think about this the scarier it gets; if I can’t write then what have I really done these past few years? Actually, scratch that, what have I been doing these past ten years? How much money has been poured into this on my part? How in debt am I again? etc etc… it’s scary when I think about it.
It’s cyclical in nature, because I end up with those questions above – what am I doing, could I do more, and am I doing enough. In times of doubt I fall back on these questions and think; I need to do something else, I need to do more, I’m not doing enough, and I found myself asking those same questions today. As I fill in increasing amounts of job applications, send off more and more altered C.V.’s and cover letters into the wide world, as I edit more of my writing and send that off too (all of these things having taken many hours to amend/edit/write) I wonder whether I’m doing the right thing. When nothing is sent in return, when my words are lost in the blue, my voice suffocated by the many others writing, bleeding onto the page, then how much is my blood worth? Are we all not worthy of a response? Even a mail merged letter? It’s a strange and depressing experience.
But then I think; ‘I’ve been here just over two weeks,’ and I think that that’s no time at all. People go on holiday for two weeks at a time, they sit in a sun-lounger by the pool in some remote country for two weeks. So, then, what am I doing? I’m doing what I want to do. Could I do more? Potentially. Am I doing enough? Certainly. I don’t need to heard, I only need to write and write I will – plug the void that is the world of submissions (job and creative) with a steady focus on my work, on what I want to do, on my voice and shake hands, make friends, and help others in my position.
Write write write…