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  • Writer's picturePapa Bear

I Don't Want To Be A Writer

The problems is that I think that I need to be.

Since the age of 14 I knew that music making was where my life was going. I firmly believe that music is something that you don't choose, it chooses you, whether you like it or not. It became my hobby, my social life and eventually my profession. Up until that point I wanted to go into movie prosthetics, make up, creating monsters, that sort of thing. The partner of someone that my dad worked with had been on the team that created the ape make up for the film Tarzan the Legend of Greystoke and that connection really struck a chord with me. No pun intended.

So going into my GCSEs I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Music A-Level would follow, an incredibly narrow choice of where to do that being that where I grew up didn't have sixth forms, all high schools went from year 8 - 11, and only one tertiary college ran the course. After that would follow music college, possibly a post grad. That's a pretty unusual position to be in at that age as far as I can tell. So I followed that path, was asked to teach a private pupil when I was 16, was draughted in to covered a week long band workshop by my local borough music service while I was doing my A-Levels and after fucking everything up and doing a gap year/ very part time A-Level course I ended up at the London College of Music. Three years, moved away from home, huge musical development, made some friends for life,a respectable 2:1(a drinkers qualification), was asked to take on some teaching for the same music service, made an application for the top jazz post grad in Europe, didn't think I had a hope in Hell's chance of getting on, had a nice audition, got offered a place, moved back home, had my mind royally blown for the rest of that year with some of the most amazing teachers and opportunities of my life.

Being "creative" is an incredibly self absorbed, arrogant, selfish thing to do. You are going out into the world expecting life to pay you a wage for you to do something that you love. Sometimes that works out, sometimes people retrain to fit kitchens or whatever because it's such a hard thing to do for a living. Most musos combine various aspects of the huge range of areas of music to scrape together a wage. Performing, teaching, writing, arranging, examining, maybe proof reading educational materials, etc etc. But essentially you do it because that's what you want to do, a regular 9 - 5 isn't your bag and you have so much to offer the world. No really, you do.

Performing for a living is a hugely mixed affair. Some are lucky enough, good enough, pretty enough to get a few breaks, do gigs with pop acts, tours, that sort of thing. I know folks that have done everything from Kylie to the Beach Boys back in the day. The harsher reality for many though is that functions become your bread and butter. Weddings, parties, corporate events etc and you try to fit in your own gigs to keep you sane. With a great function band this can be fun, I did ten years or so with a fantastic bunch of players, the music was always great even if the food was shit, the dressing room was actually the disabled loos or everything was running four hours late. But it can become a drag. It becomes a job, a day at the office. Punters would often ask "did you enjoy that?" as if this was a hobby that we were all really good at rather than a profession. The answer to that question was often no, not really, you had me drive for three hours, set up, sit around for a further four hours with nothing to do, dinner was tiny, cold and shit, I now have to pack up, lump my gear back into the car and drive three hours home after playing Brown Eyed fekkin' Girl for the thousandth time this year. But it pays £200 plus petrol and as long as you enjoyed it that's fine because that's my job.

The band faded for various reasons, gigs became seriously thin on the ground and I started to do some other bits with other bands. Not to the same standard of the previous stuff and not as regularly as I would have liked. And then my physical health stepped in, gave me pain in my ankles to add to the knees and enough in my left little finger and thumb to make playing tricky. I decided to knock gigging on the head as I had become incredibly unreliable, I wouldn't know until the day of a gig whether I'd actually be able to honour the booking and practising seemed to be a thing of the past.

A staggering 70% of creative people are supposed to suffer from depression in one form or another. As well as being one I know loads too. Your creative outlet becomes therapy, a way of processing and an essential tool for getting you through the day. I need to earn more money than I do and I have been looking for other work. But I need to create. In the most selfish way possible I need to put my creative brain to use or my mental welfare takes a massive nose dive. I've written a story, aimed at 8- 12 year olds I guess, a sci fi adventure thing. It poured out of me over the space of a couple of weeks, working on it every morning and often once Mama Bear had gone to bed too. On a good day I was bashing out two chapters without really thinking about it. The thought of having to get a real job fills me with terror. Minimum wage or close to it for working at something that will probably take me away from Baby Bear, our new doggles who is a massive form of therapy at the moment and school runs with Child Number 1. Selfishly I need to be able to work from home on something I create, for me and hopefully others will see the value in that. I have stories coming out of my ears, ideas that I'm making note for and need to come back to later. I have a million YouTube videos that I need to study, talks and masterclasses with amazing authors about how to be better at this. And most pressingly I need to get my story finished, in front of some publishing people and hope that it brings in a bit of money. I want to write for film, comic books, story books for kids and picture books for Baby Bear's age group. But at the moment I'm just some bloke that spends too much time in jogging bottoms and a cardie sitting at his laptop bring a selfish arse and not earning anything. That's OK in your early twenties, you muddle through because being creative when you're starting out, being skint all of that is part of the gig. But at 41 starting all over again is a tough one, mainly for Mama Bear who pays the bills while I cock about being "creative". What a prick.

I need it to succeed. I need to be saved from doing a real job which will have an incredibly negative impact on all aspects of my life and that will then be inflicted on those around me. I need to get paid to write. I don't ask for much, do I?!

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