I have the need to paint you a picture; it may not always make sense, but what, ever, really does?
I stare in to space, thinking of nothing, yet trying to concentrate on it all the same. I don’t know who I am any more. I struggle to identify the bits of me that I recognise. Am I a lie, conjured up to protect a lifestyle? Am I trying to change my existence, or having a half-arsed flick at something like it?
For a few months now I’ve been writing posts for this blog. I want them to be in the form of opinion pieces, rather than simply updating you on my life. I didn’t want to do recipes either; or reviews. I wanted to express myself and my understanding, and I wanted to share that with lots of strangers.
I have nurtured dreams of writing for a living for as long as I remember. As long as they were dreams they could not collapse. Then I couldn’t contain the genie in the bottle any longer. Words came out.
I am a committed and knowledgeable assembler of words and worlds, but I have no clue whether I have any talent for the work to which I so strongly aspire. Tell me, I implore. If I take the plunge and leap, feet first, in to the life of a writer I risk pushing my family in to penury, nothing to show for it.
I am jealous of the new media set in their shiny, techy offices, producing digital content for global audiences, but I understand that it is all a façade. I want to work with them, to laugh with them, to be one of them, but I do not want their struggle. They more than likely get paid even less than I do. I want to be one of the people I see on YouTube: glossy food videos, nerdy media comment; I know that their lives are precarious and whored; I couldn’t swap my comfort for that. I want to be one of the people I read in the Guardian and the like: thoughtful opinion pieces, considerate reportage.
The biggest crime this blog occasionally commits is that it neither says anything of very much at all, nor does it particularly represent my own views. It’s not that someone else has come to my desk and literally put their hands on the keyboard. No one else has typed any of this out but me, but that’s how it sometimes feels. I write to a format I have established and a rhythm which I enjoy reading. It means that some thoughts get expanded upon to fill a space, while others get truncated to contain them. This adds emphasis where it perhaps should not be and so distorts my opinions. Mea culpa.
It turns out that I am very angry. I was already aware that I was pissed off at a great deal of things a great deal of the time: people mostly. I hadn’t fully grasped how deeply this anger was embedded in everything that would come out of me when I put pen to paper. I appear to be yelling at the world in every word I write. It’s almost as if I write in full capitals. I am genuinely starting to scare myself.
I don’t feel this angry in my normal life. Yes, I shout quite a bit, but I’m the father of a three-foot-tall bundle of chaos, who will neither sit on her seat, nor eat her breakfast, nor go to bed on time. I find myself shouting at the television, telling it why it is wrong; I find myself shouting at the kettle, urging it to boil; I mistakenly expect to be able to cook dinner without a dog camping in front of the oven.
And that’s just my effect on the world around me. I am in my late thirties, but I treat my body like I am still in my twenties: I drink far too much booze and exercise far too little. My ideal hangover food is a pie; I’ve been known to go along to the local bakery and buy three pies for breakfast. I work from home, so the most exercise I get on the days I’m not doing the school run is popping for a dump.
I get lost in reveries of my magnificence on a nightly basis. I should be writing an action scene for my forthcoming spy novel, but instead I daydream about awards and showbiz parties. I cannot cook a meal without imagining myself as being a celebrity chef; I cannot listen to a song without imagining myself as the strutting, vibrant lead singer. My ego knows no bounds. I am the living god king; the master of all creation. I am the Alpha and the Omega. There has never been a mind, an imagination, a master of absolutely all things quite as superlative as me. You are very lucky to live in my lifetime.
I want the world to stare at the works I produce and marvel, but I cannot bare the glare of attention. I cannot bare the shame I feel when I am trying to promote myself. I can’t seem to handle that which is necessary for any kind of success. I am scared to take the plunge for fear of embarrassment. I look at myself and I hate what I see, but I have the rampaging, psychotically deranged ego of ten men.
The people around me tell me not to be so self-conscious; that I need to crack on doing what I am doing, and that everything will come good in the end. I have spent years diligently mining the same soot-black coal face and I feel like I now have a pretty decent life out of it: I have a beautiful home (even if my partner doesn’t always think so); I have a job that engages me; a hobby which will never be profitable; and a delightful little family. I have a comfortable existence, where I do not want for much – except for a few more hours sleep – and yet I am morose and grizzly. Why should that be?
I fear the consequences of my current course: change, imagined or otherwise, is always scary. I want the world, as one, to stare lovingly at me, but I feel physically sick at the thought of self-promotion in any way shape or form. I hide behind a screen, waiting for the world to fall obediently in to my lap.
My mind prickles with dissatisfaction, yet I take great pleasure in the ‘small things’ of my existence: I have an office where I am at liberty to surround myself with my own entertainment, with no one to object; I love to cook for my family, and I have a family who love my cooking; I love a cuddle from my daughter, when she allows me; I love evenings spent on the sofa, watching TV with my partner, glass of wine in hand. These are my happy places; these are the things I am always compelled to follow.