Sometimes in my darker moments I wonder what the hell I was thinking putting my professional career on hold, while I pursue writing. What a silly move, giving up my income, such as it was as a freelance film publicist. Did I have some sort of breakdown or mid-life crisis that people were too polite to tell me about? Was it the hair, its style grown out and now hiding my face or the same cardigan that looked like I’d slept in it for days, in a prickly bush beside the canal? But my gut niggled away at me as it tends to do when things aren’t right and so like Julia Roberts in that perfume ad, I broke those diamond chains of the business of show and walked out of the room. The room with all the sane beautiful people, who get paid for a living.
Most writers fit their passion around their paying day jobs and I did too for the first three years. That was me on the Maynooth train every morning and evening with my tiny laptop and headphones, furiously tapping away and I loved it. But the end of my book seemed a century away and as much as I was making progress, it wasn’t quick enough and my mind was far more at home listening to the conversations happening in my head than they were swerving around office politics.
Perhaps writing my book had finally driven me crazy, but somewhere along the line, the joy of writing morphed into an idea that took hold of me, one of having a book in the world and how special and amazing that would be – and not just any book. My book – full of the characters I’d grown to love, full of stories I’d exacavated and explored. What if someone else actually wanted to read them? Even enjoyed them! And so began the dream of making it a career and with it a restless insanity. A journalist friend remarked when I joined the film reviewing ranks (a obvious and comfortable choice to hone my skills), that I seemed different, there was a spark there when I spoke about writing. I knew it myself. It made my legs wobble and my cheeks redden with giddy delight.
Even though I’ve doubted myself since in those dark moments, I made a decision and I followed my giddy gut. It does however make the prospect of the book, now that its complete, all the more terrifying. This week was a particularly low one. The radio silence as you wait for an agent to get back to you is perhaps as crushing as you think their answer will inevitably be. Let me just check my email again! Oh God, nothing. I’ll just check my phone. Put it down. Pick it back up again and so it continues every day. It’s all part of the process I know but my giddy gut tumbles and twists in anticipation. Maybe it’s an ulcer and that’s to be the only result at the end of this project but I hope it’s not. So for now, I’ll persevere with my amateur daydreaming job until I get a glimmer of turning professional.