So here we go, another year of trying to make it as a professional writer, and as twenty-something too – I mean there’s the make a career in the arts during global economic meltdown and the expected cuts throughout the sector, but then there’s the whole find a city I want to live in, earn enough that I’m not living off £4 a week, manage to get out of the world of house shares, and work out a stable relationship/local friends… I know I only finished uni like half a year ago, but I want to get a start on at least some of this soon! I miss university today, undergrad uni that is. You spend uni making some really good friends, not realising that before long you’re going to be spread out at different ends of the country, none of you with enough money to travel to visit more than twice a year or so.
I definitely don’t want to stay in Wolverhampton, even if it just means moving to Birmingham for a bit. It’s rubbish here, there’s almost zero culture, and no-one my age, it’s either locals, or Wolves university students, who for the most part are locals, or other people who wanted to go to one of the worst (3rd from bottom last year) universities in the country. Yes, I know, intellectual snobbery, but it’s not that that bothers me, I’m sure just as many people are clever and talented (the arts part of Wolverhampton is reasonably well renowned for example) its more…lack of ambition. That sounds horrible, and is by no means exclusive to Wolverhampton, but more generally I think one of the most important things I identify with in others is ambition- making things happen instead of talking about them. Trying and ignoring the fear of failure. I can’t speak with real authority on Wolves students, but I’ve yet to meet one who had much passionate to say for themselves (there are, of course, exceptions to this)… Though that might not be these people in particular, there’s always the idea that this is a generational thing, kids at uni now could be 6-7 years younger than me, these are people who have grown up with the internet, during a massive period of economic and political stability, with the worst things to happen far away, or in the form of middle class anxiety… Massive, sweeping generalisations I know, not fair, but I still can’t help feel a mix of nihilistic apathy, people-as-consumer-entities, middle class security vibe emanate from much of these kids at university today. Might as well get the pipe and slippers ready! That paired with how much you really change after you leave university leaves me just as unable to speak to them as them to me… this reflects badly on me, I know, but it doesn’t half leave you feeling isolated in a town with few people your own age to talk to.
So, how to remedy this? Fair enough it’s rubbish, but I’m the only one who can change this, so let’s look at how. 1) I need more money, well, I’m working on that. I will go into it further on, but I am beginning to get places with a couple of creative routes, which is excellent, and I am learning to rein in my spending a little, food budgets etc. I’ve not bought a bottle of wine for a long time, or spend more than £1.50 on a block of cheese. Morale is accordingly low, but I can do things like pay my bills, so that’s ok. Problem number 2) I don’t like where I live, well, I have started applying for jobs elsewhere, Leicester, Leeds, London, Manchester, places I have friends, and where stuff if going on. I don’t expect to get a job for a few months as I am specifically applying for theatre jobs, ideally literary ones, so it’s quite tough competition, ideally I should be moving around summertime, that way I’ve not screwed with Foursight, and I can try and save some money to make the move smoother. And hopefully this move, will either be to a bedsit (I don’t care if it’s a box, as long as it’s my box, and there’s no arguements about whose turn it is to take out the rubbish), or a two person shared flat – preferably with a friend, but just to make it fewer than 6 in a house would be nice! and that means that 3) I would then be in a more cultural, happening city, and meeting more people, making friends, finding a local feminist movement, (Manchester and London are good for that) going to see some theatre, etc etc.
So there you go. That’s the plan, I’ve set my mind to it now, so watch this space…
And for career plans – there’s not a great deal you can plan, for writing, you can just keep working hard writing and submitting and hope that you fit into someone else’s plan. Having said that, I do have some promising things on the radar this year and had an excellent meeting with a production company last week, so things are looking OK. Scary Little Girls Productions are a really cool multi-artform theatre company who do mixed up Riot Grrl cabaret, electro and jazz recordings, straight up theatre productions, site specific work, ghost stories, comedy and poetry. They’re a really exciting female-led matrifocal company, at the forefront of this generation’s feminist performance. As mentioned in a previous post I originally wrote to them about their Medals of Lead commission – a piece they want to develop on the women who played a massive part in the 1916 uprising in Ireland, and in the Irish Nationailst/Socialist movement and yet have been scandalously left out of much of the official history. I met with Kate Hughes the Literary Associate of SLGP non Thursday, and she was absolutely lovely, they’re really interested in my work, content and style, I have a reading in a new writing ‘Salon’ that they’re running in London on the 1st of Feb, where I’ll also get a chance to talk to the director of the company (Rebecca Morden) about the Irish project (it’s a huge 2 year research led historical epic, so it’s really important that I’m right for her, and she right for me) which is excellent stuff, and the hint of perhaps a first professional production. And then finally, I’m also contributing the main art work for an album cover. I’ve been comissioned to paint Kate’s picture for a jazz album she’s working on. Kate and Rebecca saw my artwork on my website (which I had hitherto thought was a bit of a vanity corner) which has led to this comission! Exciting stuff, my first professional piece of art, which I should be working on in the first week of February.
In other writing news, I finished the first draft of Eismas, and sent it off to the Court. I didn’t like doing that, weird to send off a first draft, but hey ho-it’s at the point I really need some distance/outside work on it right now, so hopefully the Court will see that, and just maybe invite me back to do more work… fingers crossed. Also, Foursight might have a bit of work for me as varbatim scriptor on their current devised piece, it might be a bit of extra cash if they want me out of my normal 3 days a week, and it’s also an excellent experience/thing for the CV.
I’m also really enjoyng the microblogging thing, really interesting people you can follow, and I like that I can do it easily on the move. Do give it a go if you’ve not before, there’s lots of good phone apps for it, and you can sync it with your facebook status and lots of other fun things. You can follow me here.
So yes, all in all, there’s a lot on the horizon this year, it’s my first full year as a real person, and I really need to start making the most of things, not hesitating, and just going for what I want.