I’m a creative person. I know that, because I carry a notebook (Moleskine, of course) full of sporadic scribbles almost everywhere I go. Sometimes, I even open it. If I’m really pushing the boat out, I occasionally actually write something down. I went to an artsy university to do a thoroughly useless artsy degree, and most of my friends are artsy people with varying levels of success.
When I left university I thought I’d get a creative job. Because that’s what I was promised would happen. It very quickly became clear that the careers teacher at my secondary school was full of government-subsidised shit. After six months, I got the world’s worst job. It depressed the hell out of me, but in a funny way I felt hopeful. If I couldn’t have the dream creative gig, at least a horrible job would mean that I wouldn’t get too comfortable. I was a struggling writer dealing with a less-than-ideal situation, who would be full of amusing stories about my time as a receptionist when I went on Desert Island Discs, or ran into fans in Starbucks (because even famous, I would still be basic.).
What happened was that I spent most of my free time trying new hobbies to make me feel like I was doing anything with my time. I also spent most of my day fantasising about enacting alborate and violent revenge on all of the people (everyone) who annoyed me. And also, on occasion, about jumping in front of trains.
So anyway, my ideas about day jobs were wrong. I did not write, because I was too busy trying to drown my sorrows in wine, evening classes, and teaching myself the ukulele.
Then one day, I gave up. I took a job without even considering how I’d manage to write around it, because maybe I’d just been kidding myself, and I accepted that. I got comfortable in my first week. And they made it pretty easy, too. There was a Nespresso machine on every floor, as well as a fridge full of other drinks, free fruit, free snacks, a discount on gym memberships… I could go on. Everybody was lovely. My hours were good. I even voluntarily worked overtime (and was paid money for it) because I just liked it so much.
I went from being someone who did the bare minimum to somebody who put effort into their day job, which I had always assumed would be the death of my will to write. But it turns out that getting comfortable in a nice full-time job was exactly what I needed to get working in my spare time again. Having sixty per cent of my time accounted for made me want to sort out the remaining forty. I even know that if that means the odd late night here and there it won’t matter because Nespresso.
Time was, I’d go home and be so furious about the things that had happened during the day that I couldn’t have focussed even if I’d tried. Or I’d be so exhausted by trying to maintain a normal social life in London when I didn’t live or work in London that, well, ditto.
My point really is that people shouldn’t always feel like they’re giving up if they take a nice, corporate-type job that requires a little bit more work in a field where there interest actually isn’t. Yes, for some people, the misery of a soul-destroying gig serves as that little kick in the arse to get shit done. But that doesn’t work for everybody. Sometimes it’s nice to be taken care of, and to feel valued. It might be that that is what ultimately makes a person want to pick up their pen, or paintbrush, or – hell – marionette and videocamera again, and get to work. And ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.