There are days when I have a keen sense of direction. Most days, I do not. If I can concoct a grand plan to get me as far as lunchtime, I’m doing fairly well. There are days when this worries me, and days when I feel all live-in-the-moment, and it seems ok. Most days I worry about whether I’m making the right calls, or balancing things wisely. There are a number of variables to consider, and if I get one of them badly wrong, nothing is going to work at all.
Much as I would like to live in a world where resources are distributed according to need or merit, this is not the size of it. Trying to find things I can do that make sure we’re viable financially, is an ongoing one. Every project I take on, I have to consider the time involved, what I can’t do if I’m doing it, and the chances of it paying. There’s a popular assumption that published authors earn decent money, but the truth is that the vast majority of us do not. Do I spend today selling books, or writing them? I have do both, and I need to get the balance right.
I’ve tried doing work purely for commercial reasons. I’m better off doing that over stuff I do not feel strongly about, rather than trying to take my inspiration and bend it repeatedly into money-making shapes. Again, there are hard balances to strike. I strongly believe that good art is also entertaining and accessible. I’m no kind of elitist. However, pop culture seems to be full of reboots and revisits, with little room for innovation, and pressure to produce new things that look just like the old things, only with more explosions. It didn’t used to be like that. Once upon a time innovation sold, and exciting new ideas found a market. I feel like we’ve gone badly wrong somewhere.
There are more causes out there than I can count. More things that need doing than I can contribute to, much less fix. There are more people who need help than I can reach out to. I see more problems than I know how to tackle, and sometimes the biggest problem is picking a place to start and maintaining the belief that there is a point. Small differences matter, but the more time I spend on the politics, the more aware I get of the enormity of all that is wrong in the world. There are times when what I need is to retreat into some safe and comfortable place – a good book, an engaging film – somewhere to escape to where I do not have to do anything. I can see why some people seek oblivion in a bottle or a needle. I don’t do it, but there are days when I can very definitely see the allure.
I’m sure life didn’t used to be like this. Partly it is because we all have too much information now. Crusading grandmothers had one or two causes, and some idea of where they fitted in the world. They did not live under constant bombardment from advertisers, nor were images of international misery pumped into their homes on a daily basis. They had plenty of other problems to contend with, no doubt. However, there are days when the idea that it would be enough to have clean laundry and dinner in the pot, is very appealing. It no longer feels like enough to raise a child and keep a home, I must do a lot of other things as well and even so, I have no sense of direction. No idea of what I need to be doing, or where to push. No sense of what would be sufficient achievement on any front. That may be a symptom of something that goes far beyond personal experience.
I’ll pull on the press officer hat for an hour or so. Then I’ll see about audio recording. I don’t know beyond then. Back to domestic work perhaps. A thousand causes and no place to start.