March is finally dying. I write this because I cannot hide my relief at its ending.
My closest friends know it’s been a rough month. I’ve accepted a job change – actually, a complete change in careers, taking a pay cut to do so. I’ve been cheated out of money by my landlord right on the verge of this change. I’ve had to move houses. To top it all off, the parental unit ended up in hospital after falling off a bus. Nothing major, thankfully, but an unpleasant cap to an already unpleasant stretch.
Nevertheless, completely against all my expectations, things are working out. I’ve completed the third and final draft of Numbercaste, the novel – right on schedule. I’ve even finished UoP’s excellent Greek and Roman mythology course.
And the new house is just beautiful – a large and airy upstair annex in Battaramulla. I can’t wait to have all that space to write in – and for once the city’s literally ten minutes’ walk away.
The personal life is working out better than I’d dared hope – I have an incredibly supportive relationship with an altogether wonderful person and tiny but equally supportive set of friendships. I’m going to be as broke as Greece for the next year or so, but things feel right; it’s a feeling I haven’t had in a long time now.
I feel like I’m me again.
the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions; derived from the Greek kathairein (to cleanse)
What held me back? Was it the job? (I worked at WSO2, a middleware company). It’s easy to lay the blame on the corporate life and hold it up as evil – and I’d be lying if I said the job didn’t run me ragged at times. But I did have time. In between waiting for emails and the next +1 I had enough time for a spectacular set of (mis)adventures. There was a whole lot of drunkenness and debauchery, an education and a 100,000-word speculative fiction novel.
I think it was simply the fact that I was doing something for the sake of doing something – marking time in enterprise digital marketing without actually being excited by a future in it.
To make up for the emptiness I was doing a whole lot of stuff on the side that I wasn’t particularly excited about, either. Blogging about politics. Organizing things. Writing for newspapers. All nothing but a sinkhole for the number of words I can put out in a day.
Note to self: that way lies madness, Alice.
I’m moving my some short stories from icaruswept here to yudhanjaya.com. I really wanted a space for my writing, but I found that people who are interested in tech or politics may not necessarily give a crap about writing and vice versa. To that end, there’s now medium.com/numbercaste – a great space for the futurism stuff, with a great reading experience and a whole community of readers.
And then it’s back to work.
I realize now that Neil Gaiman spoke the truth of it:
‘I never really expected to find myself giving advice to people graduating from an establishment of higher education. I never graduated from any such establishment. I never even started at one. I escaped from school as soon as I could, when the prospect of four more years of enforced learning before I’d become the writer I wanted to be was stifling.
I got out into the world, I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it up as I went along, they just read what I wrote and they paid for it, or they didn’t, and often they commissioned me to write something else for them.
Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.
And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.
I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure, and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.’
I’ve tried on many hats over the brief span I’ve been alive – I’ve run startups, I’ve programmed games, cobbled together news networks, done decently in eSports. I know that writing a book is absolutely no guarantee that anyone will even look at it; there’s a lot more work to be done.
But nothing, absolutely nothing, feels as right as sitting here, waiting for the dawn, slinging out my words on the white page.
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