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What Next?

Oliver Moor

The problem with leaving a nice steady job with a good salary and good prospects to become a student is that you suddenly realise "Oh my God, what have I done? Please! Take me back! I'll do anything! Please!"

Actually, you don't really. Or at least, not quite yet.

These last few months have been an important learning experience for me. Firstly, I've learned about writing. The course has taught me that writing is a discipline, and after six months of having the task of writing thrust upon me, I'm now going to have to make my own discipline. I've also learned that writing doesn't just happen. If something of mine i's worth reading, it's generally something that has been worked at and worked at. It's not just a question of sitting down in front of a PC and banging out an article. To make something good, I have to work at it, and that means rewriting, over and over again. I've also learned that "waiting for inspiration" is a load of crap. It doesn't happen. If I get hit with an idea, fine: I'll write it down. But if I don't, it's important to sit down anyway and start typing. Something'll turn up. It's hard work, but it's the most enjoyable work I know. The problem is that apparently it doesn't pay anything. Somehow, someway, I have to return to the real world. After having published twenty articles or so on the safe-ish environment of Hackwriters, I'm going to have to send them out into the marketplace. That's the challenge for me -- whether I can get organised enough to actually get stuff published. Many people who know me might say "no chance". I hope I can prove a few of them wrong.

What else have I learned? Well, after living in a pleasant, if quiet rural town, I'm going to have to return, for a while, to the sweatbox of London. This does not fill me with joy. Being in the country has taught me that I don't either need, or want, London. After nearly thirty years of it, I've had enough. I know now that there is life outside of it and that I'm happier in a smaller place. I like walking down a street and running into someone I know. I like the quiet (apart from the seagulls, that is). I like the scenery. I like the lack of choice of restaurants -- my palate measures quantity not quality in any case. London is a bit nonsensical now, I'm afraid, so I won't be stopping there for long. Dr Johnson's name has travelled down the centuries on the strength of one remark about the place, and quite frankly I think it's time we really forgot it now. I'm tired of London. I'm certainly not tired of life.

So what now?

There seem to be two choices for me. I could get a job in some sort of web content provider for a while, just to pay the debts off. Then after that, maybe I'll try for a job on a local paper, or perhaps some sort of editorial role in a publishing company. After a couple of years of that, I'll become a deputy editor, or perhaps even editor, doing the nine to five in a regional office somewhere while cranking out articles for magazines on the side. Possibly one of those articles might interest me so much it forms the basis of a novel, which I'll punt around to various agents and publishing houses and somehow get published. Then it's not inconceivable that a big Hollywood producer would get wind of it and call me up and ask me to write the screenplay of it, and get a couple of big stars in to play the leads. I'd be rich and famous and little student journalists would come knocking at my door asking if they could do an interview for their websites.

My other choice is much simpler. I'll sell my flat and live in a cardboard box for the next few years. Then, when the next general election comes along, I'll lump the cash on the Tories at 12-1, and get rich that way instead. This second option doesn't seem too realistic, so I'll go with the first. Although that doesn't seem to be that realistic either. What'll probably happen is that I'll fail to get that job with the web content producer and the debts will mount up. My girlfriend will leave me, I'll be evicted and have to live on the street. I'll become involved with petty street crime and drugs. I'll be arrested and sent down. And I wouldn't do well in jail.

The abyss awaits. Who needs this writing lark anyway?

OK, guys, you win. To all my former employers: I'm sorry I left, everybody. It really was a nice steady job with a good salary and good prospects. I loved it more than life itself. Please! Take me back! I'll do anything! Please!

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