Friday, 18 January 2013

30 Days of Blogging #18:
My Day Job Vs My Passion

My passion is and always has been, writing. I started writing before I could even write properly, telling my younger cousin fictional stories while holding open a book - my grandmother in her naivety thought I was reading aloud until one day she looked at the book and realised it was nothing like the story I'd been telling. Once I learned to write properly, I began trying to write and illustrate my own stories and by the time I was eight or nine, I'd become determined to write a novel. Although I never did complete one.

The obsession with the written word never went away completely and aged 18, I decided to get my degree in Imaginative Writing. It was a brave step. I knew it probably would not lead to a related career but even at that young age, I felt it was important that I do something I felt passionate about. It was important to me that if I was going to spend three years of my life at University, I study something that would captivate me and keep me interested.

Since graduating, I've found it difficult to write. In the four years since I finished my degree, I've only written a handful of short stories and one or two poems. I've begun and abandoned countless novels. I blame this on the difficulty I've had adjusting to life outside academia, where there are no lecturers giving you constant feedback on your writing, no peer-led discussion groups or evening poetry readings full of free wine and an open mic while the autumn rain beat down outside.

This year, I'm attempting to complete a first draft of a novel. It's not going too bad - at least I haven't given up yet. Although I haven't written as much as I hoped I would have done by now. We'll blame several crippling migraines for that.

The interesting thing about my life is just how different my evening and weekend world of novel writing is from my everyday working life. I do a very un-creative job, one I never imagined myself doing. When I was at University, and in the year afterwards when I spent all of my time searching for a job in an over-populated job market, I imagined myself working in a bookshop or a library, maybe being a copy-editor for some niche magazine or even working in an art gallery or museum. Basically, I saw myself working in a creative environment, surrounded by arty types. But that seriously didn't happen.

My first job out of Uni was as an admin assistant in the labs where I currently work, then I moved onto the payroll department, working as a Payroll Assistant (crunching numbers all day was not my idea of a creative job!).

My current job as a Lab Assistant is probably as far from creativity as I could get. It's a heavily science based job that involves working with blood samples and analysis machines. It's interesting, don't get me wrong, but it's not creative in the slightest and it's definitely not what I ever imagined myself doing with my life. However, I do love it.

I think the fact that my day job clashes with my passion is the key. I imagine that if I had a creative day job I might burn out my creative passion and not have any room in my life for my writing. I think having my days filled with more mundane activities, with repetitive actions in some way fuels my creativity. I know it sounds crazy but bear with me here... Think about it, if you spend all day doing something that's repetitive and sort of structured, then when you finish doing that, you've still got a full reserve of creativity just bursting to be released after a day of not being used.

I think I can make that work for me in my attempt to finish a novel this year. 

So, all in all, while my day job is very different to my passion, I think they fit well together, highlight each other. And for now, I'm fairly content to have a non-creative, non-writing based job.

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