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The International Writers Magazine

Why Don’t You Get A Proper Job?
Bohemia personified: Tristan Scott Davis, on being a writer
'The endless rejection letters collected in the folder you bought with your dole money ...'

It’s an ironic statement really. Not least because I maintain that any job that puts bread on the table is a ‘proper’ job (save illegal occupations like drugs barons and prostitution); but because the above question has been principally aimed at me by friends who themselves have far better job prospects than I; friends who are employed as a full time trolley boy at Asda Walmart, or a cashier at Safeway.
“Dear kettle: all regards, pot” I find myself saying to these unwitting friends or relatives. And they hate me for it. But I don’t care.

For those of us crazy enough to be a writer of any sort - then (according to myth, stereotype or reality), the dodgy central heating in the flat with windows that let the rain in, and rent that you cannot possibly afford and eat properly at the same time - are just some of the things we may have to endure. And endure them we do. Endlessly. Waiting for the big break, the publishing contract…the money! (…still waiting…)
The endless rejection letters collected in the folder you bought with your dole money; the pile of crumpled up sheets overflowing just by the wastepaper basket, stood next to the old desk that’s vanish is marred with coffee and nicotine. I can see it now. Bohemia personified. And where does all my inspiration come from I ask? If I knew that, then I would have made my fortune long ago.

But, it’s what you do isn’t it? A writer isn’t your average ‘joe public’. “Anyone can write” maintained an old school tutor of mine. Yes, but not everyone can write well. A three letter word, so crucial to this profession. A worker with talent will go far in his job - thus a writer with talent should (in theory) get published. But alas, not so. Not all the time, at any rate.

For writers’ like myself; (now) single, slightly conceited members of society who have delusions of grandeur, sitting supping a hot beverage, reading The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian (including all supplements) in cafes or wine bars; the idea of a ‘proper’ job may seem a preposterous jibe out our profession. But the fact is, that we do (my mistake; I do) view other jobs as to some extent beneath me - despite my viewpoint expressed above. ‘It’s not for me, that office job’ I used to say, flicking through the employment pages of my local rag when I was younger. But the fact is, I do have a job. A ‘proper’ job.
I work, (part time admittedly) as an office administrator - filing paper, liaising with clients of my company, covering for my manager whilst he and my colleague have ‘a meeting’. And the other half of my time is spent writing; writing fiction, writing prose, writing poetry, or penning the odd conjectural article such as you are reading now. My wonderfully ambitious and lucrative time spent at the employment agency I work with provides just enough money to keep me out the black. But which do I consider the ‘proper’ job?...the writing…of course.

©2004 Tristan Scott Davis
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