IN A way I have my dream job now. Sitting at home and writing is something I have long fancied. The trouble is, at present it isn’t what you could call a job. The words are mounting up, with 3,000 to 5,000 words a day being added to the crime thriller, plus another 500 or so in the guise of Man On Ledge.
But there is no new money coming in, lots of words but no money. This situation cannot continue indefinitely. Those words will have to do their bit and carry a pound or two eventually. In my mind I see those words as ants busying away as they struggle with the coinage on their back, but perhaps I have drunk too much tea already.
In a way I had my dream job on the newspaper. Editing, writing, designing, running a small team, these tasks kept me gainfully employed and, for the most part, happy and fulfilled. There were dark moments, you know the sort, when you wake in a panic at some godforsaken hour to feel the weight of failure pressing down on your chest. This is it; this is all I will ever amount to. Then you get up and go to work, and the stone of anxiety rolls away.
But then the dream turned into one of those dreams where everything is in the wrong place. I believe they are commonly called nightmares. My job was swept away with an organisational flick, and suddenly a role that had kept me fully occupied, a job I was good at, wasn’t there any longer.
This is upsetting, disorientating, isolating, and many other negative things, but in the end you have to pick yourself up and press the self-reboot button.
In the fine city of York, where I live, you can find many people who used to work on my old newspaper. The most recent departures were editorial people in assorted jobs, but in the past printers, camera-room operators and lorry drivers were among those who left.
Indeed journalists took on roles once performed by printers and camera-room people, thanks to the march of computers. Hot metal was abandoned and cold typewriters too. For a while the newly tasked journalist was king, although without the royal salary. We could do everything. We ruled the world, and then one day we didn’t, or at least some of us didn’t.
There was no cockiness involved in this turnaround. We were too busy taking on all the new roles required of us. Then the plates moved again, the earth shook once more, and some of those who had risen took their turn to fall.
Writing these words in this space is one of the ways this cast-off journalist is attempting to get on with life. It’s a valuable experience, but those worker-ant words will have to pull their weight one day.