I had another of those difficult days today when, for reasons that I just cannot fathom, the world went completely silent on me.
Normally my inbox is alive with emails of one kind of another. Today: nothing. Not a single one, despite my sending quite a few. It feels like I don't exist.
Hello? Do I exist? I'm sure that I do but, then again, is anything certain?
I wish I was Donald Trump. He seems to exist and, what's more, he's always very certain about it.
No doubt my non-existence is partly down to my losing my 'website designing' job. Or, at least, my job lost me. In truth, it wasn't a job as much as regular freelancing work which, month on month, was paying less and less. I finally decided that the people exploiting my good nature should start paying me a half decent wage for my services. Naturally, when I asked them to, the company decided that my services were no longer required. Interesting how that works.
On the positive side, I have more time to write this month. Next month: sweeping the streets.
Being exploited for your services is, sadly, the way of the world. Unless you are 'at the top' of any line of work, then you really are at the bottom. In a world economy there's always some amateur around the corner willing to undercut the professionals.
Word to the young: set you price and don't deviate. Of course, you're just as likely to end up as unsuccessful as me. But at least you'll still have your pride.
This is obviously also true in the world of writing. Some places do pay. Some don't. Some say they do and then they don't. Some say they don't and then they do.
But most of the time they don't.
It's why the silence feels particularly uncomfortable today. I've been writing solid for three days and have four articles finished that I think are quality. Trying to place articles is like trying to throw a cat up a chimney. Even when you nail the throw, the bloody thing comes back covered in soot and with its claws extended. I don't know why I carry on except I guess people wouldn't recognise me if my face wasn't scratched to hell.
I have to avoid the temptation of dumping 'failed' articles here. I want to be read but at what cost? I'm no charity but the world expects every writer to write for charity. I still occasionally get emails from strangers asking me to draw a cartoon for some website with a huge readership that they promise will give me exposure. When I ask to be paid they never reply. My life in precis form.
Regarding my writing, I'm pretty certain all of this is my own fault. Were I to start again, I would not try to write well or aspire to think intelligently. I would have learned to write quickly and to think little.
But that sounds presumptuous of me. I'm not even sure that I can write or think particularly well. All I know is that I can do neither quickly. 2000 words a day is about my limit if I'm going to polish those words. Polishing is all of the writing or it is for me. The business is hard and takes it out of me. I wish it didn't but it does.
I was reading Orwell (again) today and wondered to myself how he must have worked when there was no word processor around to hone his prose. How must he have done it? How would any writer have written (or how to they still write, given that some do still use typewriters) when the thing on the page is not something you can then pull into shape? I assume he did it through laborious retyping and then retyping again.
Will Self, I know, still uses typewriters. I should really see if I can find anything he's written about his process. Myself: I doubt if I could work that way. I write quickly but edit slowly. Perhaps I should write more slowly and edit very little.
That, I think, has to be the key. Most things I read at newspapers and magazines are clearly written in a rush. Nobody cares that they are. Facts are rarely checked that well, especially at some of the broadsheet's websites. The Independent tonight had an article about De Niro's new film. It looks terrible (Dirty Grandpa) and was definitely not directed by Larry Charles, who did direct Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Borat and Bill Maher's Religulous.
The Independent has become a woeful website, suffering from the worst kind of Buzzfeed syndrome.
On a more positive note, for a brief moment this week, my name featured on the same page as Will Self over at The New Statesman.
Is it sad to admit it was a career highlight? Well, excuse my French: fuck it. It was.
I rarely swear but always edit. I've broken one rule. Might as well break the other and publish this unedited. Let it be the mess I'll look back on to remind me never to post when I don't exist.