HELLO INTERNET BOY #39: Timehop

It’s almost looped around to the time when I first started writing this series, and it’s so weird to think that a year has passed. I’m bad at memory, and very bad at cutting at time into easily digested periods, but it’s amazing how easy it is to follow the course of a year when you’re working on a blog project for the entire time. It’s probably helps that I’m aware that I need to finish all fifty posts by the end of March, and that shit is coming up!

A lot has happened in that year, but it also kind of feels like nothing has happened at all. I don’t feel different, and a lot of the same thoughts and frustrations and anxiety loops that I was going through a year ago are still grinding on. It’s depressing to think that I might be endlessly chewing on the same problems until I die, at the age of 183 from being way too good looking.

But then again, a lot of THINGS have happened, including the entire trip that this series is based on. I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve seen some amazing things. It’s difficult to quantify how that changes you, because I think experiences seep unnoticed into your identity, and become part of the structure that makes up who you are. Unless it’s a horrible experience, and then you generally know the ways in which you’ve changed.

A year ago I was taking my first ever annual leave, going on a trip in which I still got paid, and I felt old and proud, but also a bit sad. I wondered if this was the pattern I would be set into for the rest of my life, the old 9-5 grind and then taking a holiday thing. But, turns out I worried too much, because now I’ve been made redundant! That’s a goddamn change. I have to say that a year ago, as much as I loved my job, I worried that it might be holding me back from my ambition to be an author. Not anymore! Woo! Every cloud has a silver linings playbook.

Being so aware of the past year, and the frustrations and worries I’ve held close to me has really forced me to take this redundancy as an opportunity, as a chance to do something else. What that exactly means remains to be seen, but in a years time, it will all seem hazy and difficult to un-imagine, if that makes any sense.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

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HELLO INTERNET BOY #38: A community of fuckheads

In Aelyria, ‘Patrick Lenton’ has been tasked with the awkward process of being forced to  read another writers work, while they sit there and watch. This has happened to me a few times, outside of a workshop scenario and it’s always been excruciating. Especially because I’ve been trained in a certain style of criticism – you don’t bother pussyfooting around with empty compliments and platitudes, you just go straight into the meat and gristle of what’s not working, and provide solutions. When you’re sitting at a bar, and someone has pulled out seven loose-leaf sheafs of their new novel, you don’t really have the ability to do that. You’re left awkwardly talking about how good it is, desperately trying to seem engaged, but not too engaged.

That said, I love spending time with other writers. I love it when writers form communities, because they tend to be really weird and excellent people. I love talking about writing and books and just stupid stuff. When I was younger, I used to think that I only wanted to be friends with writers, which was helped along by the fact that I was studying creative writing and everyone around me was part of that world. But over the last few years, as much as I still value my writing community and my word friends, i’ve found an unexpected pleasure in getting to know people who have absolutely no tie with my insular little book bubble. This is for obvious reasons – being a writer doesn’t make you a good or a bad person (although will often tip you into being a crap person to be around), so obviously hanging around with non-writers means you get literally an entire spectrum of new cool people. BUT, the bonus is being exposed to people who are doing amazing or interesting or just different stuff. Having that exposure is so important, is a way to be inspired in all the thousands of ways that writers need to be. Getting stuck in the bubble is bad, because you stagnate in there.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

HELLO INTERNET BOY # 37: I am a writer

One of the things that I like about Patrick Lenton from the fantasy world of Aelyria is that he introduces himself as a writer. No vacillating, no ‘I’m a digital marketer but also an author’ no ‘oh you know… trying to be an author’. I suppose it would be weird claiming to be a digital marketer. What would be the Aelyrian parallel? Town crier of the… astral plane?

In my current storyline, I’m being asked by a gnome and a dog man what my occupation is, and that world’s Patrick Lenton is like ‘writer’. He is off to do some writing. And of course, I haven’t given that Patrick a day job. In Aelyria, he earns all his money from writing. This is a fantasy world, after all.

It was fun when I was travelling to experiment with saying ‘I’m an author’. I’d just had my book of short stories released, so it felt the truest it ever has. I managed to do it a couple of times without slipping up, but often I’d follow up with ‘not that it makes me any money’ or ‘you know, I work too.’

There’s a lot of well meaning and aspirational articles and memes aimed at writers that basically says ‘you ARE a writer, if you write, you are a writer, identify as a writer, asshole!’ and I agree to a certain extent. I do. I am a writer. But am I an author? Someone asked me the other day if my ultimate goal was to be a full time writer, and I paused. That’s the dream, I suppose. But I’ve worked in trade publishing for years – I know how difficult it is to make a living. Almost impossible, really. There’s no middle ground anymore, no mid-list. You have to be J.K. Rowling or nothing. So I’m ready to support myself to pursue my writing, that’s a reality I’m comfortable with.

I’m currently not comfortable with the amount I’m writing, the demands of a full-time job that I love meaning that my writing output is much less than I hope. I would like to solve this somehow, but that’s a different issue for a different day. Would upping the percentage of time I spend writing make me more comfortable in saying I was an author? How much? 60%? 80%? Or is it always going to be about how I make my living. I don’t know yet.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

 

 

HELLO INTERNET BOY #36: Ye olde taxi

In my last post, I was heading out on the road with Oswald and Ruffus, a potentially sinister duo of hobbit style man and dog man. And in what I remember as being extremely typical, I’m still waiting – there’s been no word from the moderator who’s writing the other half of the thread. I completely understand this of course – people have lives beyond their weird fake internet lives. The classic trick that Aelyrian’s get drawn into is feeling too impatient to wait for just one or two threads, so you start up another one, and then another one, which all works fine on that day – and then a week later, you suddenly have seven people to reply to, all at once, which is basically the equivalent of writing seven short stories a night, and then you way too stressed and quit. Or at least that’s what I did.

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Anyway, this waiting has actually been a fairly successful narrative device, it’s drawing out the suspense, making me wonder what’s going to happen. I’m 100% convinced they’re going to pull me into a copse of trees and stab me and steal my identity.

It reminds me of when me and my partner went to Vietnam a while ago. Everyone gave me the same tip – when you get off the plane, make sure you go to the correct taxi rank, because there’s a lot of dodgy taxis out there. So when we get off the plane, all bleary and tired and young, what did we do? We let ourselves get drawn away and shoved into a random car, and as we drove off, another dude just jumped into the front seat. It took me a while to realise it, but we’d done exactly the wrong thing.

It all seemed to go fine for about fifteen minutes, until suddenly we pulled off from the road, into what can best be described as a shanty town. Then, the guy in the passenger seat turned around and began yelling at us to give them ‘bridge tax’. Luckily, I’d been expecting this, and had shoved the couple of hundred US dollars I had in my wallet into my shoe, and just played really clueless and dumb, which I was, until they were happy with a few twenties. The guy then got out of the car, and the original driver drove us to our hostel, which was the weirdest part of our taxi heist.

I was mostly just glad that we hadn’t been stabbed and left in a gutter, but I was also a bit sore about paying around fifty US dollars more than we should have. I felt like I’d failed the ONLY thing about travelling that I was actually prepared for. This was mollified, however, when I discovered a big burly US college student in our hostel had paid FIVE HUNDRED US DOLLARS to his taxi.

And, I must have learnt my lesson, because in New York a guy came up to me and said ‘taxi? and then started leading me into an underground carpark’ and suddenly I thought ‘wait a moment, this is that thing I don’t want to happen’ and I said ‘oh wait, I forgot, my mum is picking me up’ and I ran off and caught a real taxi.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.