I don't want this to be a moan - new year, new beginnings, etc - so I turned the situation around to come up with the topic for this post. I know I don't have a full-time job (as in, having to leave the house and deal with the vagaries of public transport in this country, or drive any further than the primary school). But many of you will and I've been there myself while writing my first novel. I know how it feels when you feel like you're wasting those precious hours that should be spent writing, but did you ever stop to think about all the things you do at work and people you talk to and how much inspiration they provide? Even if you hate them. Hate can be a driving force in stories and you can't write anything successful without conflict.
I moved to Glasgow from Brighton to study journalism at 22, when I was still trying to work out what I wanted to do. I didn't think I could make it as a fiction writer, so at least journalism meant I would be writing for a living. After finishing I got a three month temporary contract at my local paper, and that was as far as I ever got. But I got more great ideas during that three months than the whole two years at college, despite the fact that I live in a fairly quiet, semi-rural town surrounded by cows and sheep.
That was because real people and their stories are interesting. One story I dealt with at that time inspired a flash fiction piece that was published five years later. Others are still kicking around in my grey matter and I know they would make for good pieces if I got round to them.
I know that most jobs don't involve people ringing you up and telling you what's happened to them, but the principle applies to any job, however seemingly mundane. Say you're a binman for example (or to be politically correct, refuse collection agent). The things people throw away can be amazing. Maybe you see a smashed photo frame and you come up with a story about the people or things in the photo and how it came to be thrown away. Now I'm a stay at home dad, and again, the kids are a great source of inspiration. I've got a whole heap of ideas just based on offhand things they've said that would make some great children's books.
So, I'm trying to say that being free to write all day can be a blessing and a curse. The next time you're heading into work, instead of grumbling about it, just think of all the possibilities and ideas that day could offer. If you're sitting by yourself most of the time, then what you have to write about is going to get reduced, isn't it?
Onto my news. As you might have guessed, I'm pleased to announce that I'll be taking part in April's A-Z Challenge this year. (Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for giving me the heads up on this last week - check out his blog, or the official A-Z Challenge blog, for loads more details.) It is quite daunting, but I think I've come up with a theme for my posts, which I will reveal shortly (it may change). I'm hoping to finalise it soon, though, and get most if not all of my posts done beforehand, so when the time comes I can just enjoy getting to know as many new people as I can.
So, who else is doing the challenge? And, is your job a great source of inspiration for your writing? Tell me all!