Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Carping Contemplation or Money, Money, Money

Big gap since the last post - I've found it hard to write, to have ideas, as it's been a gloomy month.  I wish I had something insightful to share with you but if you read on, this is more of a personal post than usual by way of explaining why I haven't written here in the last few weeks.  It's a lot to do with the writing too though.

The operation I had on my leg on 16th September coincided with a particularly bad patch in my relationship.  Convalescing at my parents house seemed like a good idea, both because my partner wouldn't have to run around after someone she wasn't particularly liking very much at the time and because we thought a break might do us good.  It seemed to - we missed each other and it was good when we were reconciled.   A month without work meant no money though and the double whammy was getting hit for a lot of charges to do with a freehold purchase.  Though my partner has supported me in this experiment to see if I could write for a living, enough was eventually enough.  We're at the tail end of our thirties, this city is expensive and if we're to have all those things that normal people have, like more than one bedroom, a garden and a car, I was going to have to earn some money.  The lack of it and my lack of appearing to want to take care of my partner caused some problems to say the least.

I've been moaning and bitching to everyone I know about money in the last month or so - it's become my number one preoccupation.  It feels like without money in this town, you're no one.  Comparison with everyone around is inevitable but foolish, especially where I live in Notting Hill.  The constant parade of expensive cars, the free magazines that come through the door filled with property porn, the restaurants that surround us that are full of people drinking endless cocktails - it's all a little hard to take when you haven't even got enough for a pint of Guinness.  The stupid thing is I have never believed that money will make you happy.  It's just that I've got someone else to think about now.  To be selfish or selfless?  Some thoughts on that might have made for a better blog.

When I got given a shit load of money last year after being made redundant from the Mail, with hindsight, maybe I should have done things differently.  Writing the first draft of a book while living off the redundancy now seems like a massive indulgence - I enjoyed the summer, free of being trapped in an office for a change, I lunched with friends, I started this blog and I started hitting up everyone I could for writing advice.  I was pretty happy, because, essentially I was free to do what I liked.  I bought us a holiday and an engagement ring.  Maybe what I should have done is a proper journalism course.  Maybe I should have done as much picture research freelancing as I could and used that money as a deposit on a place for us.  Instead of which I'm still in a one bedroom flat and contemplating going back to a place I didn't like because I need the money.  On the positive side, writing has bought a lot of magical things this year: writing for national newspapers and magazines (including a cover-line), opportunities to travel (including an amazing 5 star trip to Texas), plenty of encouragement from peers and exposure to many interesting, funny and engaging people.

But what I've learnt is that I don't need to be resentful of a job.  There are lots of fine examples of people doing their 40 hours a week and doing the thing that they love outside of that.  James Mullinger, Picture Editor of GQ by day, is a gigging stand up comedian by night.  On top of all that he writes for GQ online and I believe, has just recently become a new Dad.  How does he fit it all in?  The point is that he's doing something that he's passionate about.  So, the place I've arrived at is, get the job if I can (it's by no means a foregone conclusion), write as much as I can outside of that, save some money, try to get ahead.  After all, that's what everyone else is doing isn't it?


  1. I hear you, Lee. There are times when life, especially the elements of it which you mention here, can feel like a noose around one's neck. Although surely the operation side of it is just down to bad luck.

  2. Hi Mark

    Thanks for your comment. Yep - not much I could have done about snapping a ligament in my knee, bar not going snowboarding in the first place. I'm happy to report that I'm feeling a lot more positive. I'm also able to walk up stairs without pain, which is a bonus.