Amongst the Non Fiction
This week’s blog was sent in by one of our many roving reporters. It came across by email during a Wednesday, sent in small pieces. A journal of a long, dull, difficult day working out amongst the non-fiction.
After much debate amongst the editorial staff and checking with our many advertisers, we’ve decided to run this piece as it came to us. No corrections, no addition of further citations or explanation. No work on the structure. We simply ask that you view it as a glimpse into the head of one man trapped very neatly behind his desk.
Right. This is happening out in the field. The way this week is evolving, there's no other way to do this. Time has gone beyond a commodity this week. It’s become a rarity. A near extinct species. Every time I think I can grab a few minutes to get some (proper) work done, the hands on my watch betray me. They slide forward. They point ahead to plans filling my evening or my weekend. My time is being fracked out from under my feet. Again.
You ask me, I think there’s some shenanigans going on here. Someone is tinkering with my clocks and watches. Maybe even my calendars. The swines. It might have something to do with my bright idea to juggle a couple of short stories at the same time that I’m planning my first ever live book launch. Which is fine, that’s my mistake. Well, not mistake. Mistake is a harsh word. It’s my fault. Nope, not happy with fault either. No, let’s go with decision. Yep. That sounds right. It was my decision. It’s just that my watch hands are having to reach into their pockets to pay for it. It's fine, though, right? Contentment is the enemy. I should be stressed. That’s what I need to tell myself. All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.
I should point out, by the way, that I’m in no way writing this at my desk at work. Let’s make that very clear, here and now. I am writing this for you at the appropriate time, in the appropriate place. Like a good, honourable person would. Like Jesus would’ve done, if he had a blog.
Man, that would’ve been some blog. It started off as a novice introduction to carpentry then, slowly but surely, it twisted into something truly unexpected. One of those rags to riches of the spirit to brutal execution to resurrection stories. A classic. A blog that would’ve made a young Charlton Heston set down his cuddling rifle and dash for his gun shaped phone to call his agent.
‘Hey Blog Fans, a little tangent from the carpentry this week. I know we were going to discuss table leg styles but, get this, it turns out that dream I kept having wasn’t so much a dream after all. That whole water into wine thing I mentioned the other month? Yeah, it looks like that wasn’t some metaphorical dream. I actually did that. That is going to take some processing. Also my mum just dropped some big news on me. Huge news. Apparently your erstwhile carpenter slash blogger is adopted? Who knew? It’s been a big week for your J Dog.’
That really would have been a blog which paid off its long time fans. Sadly, I don’t see The Blank Page ever going that way. I can’t see any religions or philosophies starting from this humble note that I'm ABSOLUTELY NOT writing in a place of employment. Although, if I was (which I’m not), it would be good to have you here with me.
You know, I’m not exactly sure how I think of you, Dear Reader. I guess I just hope you’re there, I guess. That’d be a start. I do have times where I feel like I’m sending out messages in bottles, just watching them bob away until they merge with the inconstant horizon.
This desk (which I’m not sitting at) really would be the strongest candidate in my life for the beach I’m currently stranded on. I mean, sure, it’s not a factory production line or a sweatshop. I’m not mopping up surgery floors or reloading my weapon on the battlefield. I’m not hunting for landmines or working down a mine. I’m just number crunching. Day after day. Which is fine. It pays the bills. It allowed me to get hooked on podcasts. Although, let’s be honest here, they’re just a way of pretending I’m not here. (Which, as discussed, I’m not.) So many things are just distractions from this desk I’m stranded at. It would almost be appropriate to send all my blogs from here. Not that I am here, you understand.
The weekend is barely long enough to pretend I’m actually okay with this particular life. This wage beach. This thin strip of shrinking land, ruled by the tides of management.
Maybe a life raft would be a better metaphor here. I’ve cast myself out. Adrift. Untethered. Five days a week. Hoping for the shores of a weekend to appear ahead of me.
This is ground we’ve definitely covered before, but I’m only here because of decisions I ignored, rushed or avoided.
‘That university form is too long.’
‘That job is too hard.’
‘These other people are too good at this, what’s the point of competing.’
So, yeah, I’m on the life raft. I pushed off from the coast in the hope of avoiding every tough decision or moment of creative failure and here I am. Me and my bottles. My laptop and a few packs of Nerds. That’s my day.
God, you know what’s terrible? That sounds more fun than my day. At least there’d be a little peace.
When did I get so obsessed with peace? I’ve worked in shops. In kitchens. In small cramped offices in converted garages. I’ve been on a phone taking sales calls. I’ve been screamed at on a technical helpline. None of those jobs were peaceful. So, what’s really annoying me here? (Not that I am here. Obviously.)
Is it old age? Am I sinking into that quagmire now?
Sure, the radio is terrible. Radio is pretty dependably terrible. Yes, people talking when they should be working is annoying, but it’s not my fight. I didn’t hire them. I don’t really need to pretend to like them. I’m not sitting here (not that I am here) for that. I come here (not here) to pay bills. I made that decision. I bottled out of creative choices or even finding a proper career. I went safe and sensible and here I sit (when I’m actually sitting there), afloat on my own personal dead end. Cornered on the ocean. Snookered at sea.
A long time ago, after two years in classrooms with drama students, I realised that ego was the mind killer. Never mind fear. Fear is a response. Ego is a choice. Ego is a set of blinkers and a pair of heavy boots. I didn’t want that in my life, so I tried to remove it. I became accommodating and now a lot of pointless ballast has taken up accommodation on my shoulders.
I’ve learnt to tolerate to the point where I’m trapped. I’m suffocating. Where I’m getting lost in my own metaphors.
Christ, it’s hot in here. (Or it would be, if I was here.) It’s hard to think straight in this heat. It’s hard not to think fatalistically.
If you mention to any member of The Tan Chasers that you want rain, they look at you like they’re sizing you up for a lynching. Maybe that’ll be my execution. Put out in the sun. Left to become one of them or to burn for my sins. For daring to want a little breeze and for the lawns to stop looking like we’re a few turns away from the Fury Road.
Of course, the heat is just an obstacle. Just like all of this. I want to tell you that it’ll be okay, but this is the middle of the afternoon. Nothing is okay here.
Right. Let’s try and find something positive here. I can do that. I’m a grown up, in shoe size at least. I’m capable of finding a positive element to my life. After all, this is my life. This is where I keep all my stuff. This is where I do all of my breathing and watch all of my shows. I’m sure I can find some reason to believe my life is not all bad.
Okay. The book launch. There we go. My first book is less than a month away. I’m going to go on and on and on about it as this month goes on and I manage to claw some of my free time back under my own control. As I get the time to figure out what I’m going to read and what I’m going to say.
It’s a really strange privilege to be given a room and told to organise a night out to advertise what I want to do with my life. It’s like being allowed to audition for my dream life. Weirdly, I’m not nervous about it yet. I wouldn’t say I feel great about it either. I just know that it’s there and that it’s getting closer. I have books to sell. We’re putting together some merch to go with the books. The poster went up online this week.
There. That’s something positive. Found it. We'll just add that to the maturity scoreboard.
So, here I sit, waiting out the minutes. Every little second earning me a little extra cash. Paying off a bit more of the house. Earning me some food spending money. The book launch waiting ahead. A brief landing point. Time to get off and test my sea legs, while I read a horror story about a pink rabbit to people. Hopefully to a few strangers who decide to buy a copy. It’s amazing to think, even with my cowardly decision making, I’m allowed to do that.
Right. I better sign off. Before anyone notices this email has gotten a little epic.
Take care, Blank Pagers. Take care.