Here’s the dream: Writing for a living. Novels, short stories. Whatever genre feels good at the time. Having people read my work. Making that be what pays the bills and buys the groceries and lets me move out.
Here’s the reality: I don’t know how to do that. I know how to write, in fact it’s one of the things I’m most confident in. But a career just doesn’t seem like a possibility right now. It feels like it’s out of my reach.
I had a job until a couple of weeks ago. Now I have the time to write, to do anything, but I really have no idea how to make the dream a reality. Not with the pressure to find a new job because that’s what we’re all supposed to do. It’s scary to know exactly what you want but no idea of where fulfillment can be found.
Reorganization was the word of last week. My writing room has been getting a makeover lately, with a new desk and new pictures on the walls. I have a board now for sticking up story outlines and plenty of file folders for drafts and notes. Not everything is in place yet, but that will come in time.
And while my writing room shifts and changes, it seems my life does the same thing. Just what it will become is something I have to find out — or decide for myself.
One of my favourite television shows is the British science fiction series Doctor Who. The main character is an alien known only as the Doctor who travels through time and space in a ship that is bigger on the inside than the outside. It sounds a little strange, but it’s become a cultural icon in the UK. Given that it’s been around since 1963, the need arises every now and then to recast the lead role, much like the James Bond movies. But because the Doctor is an alien and because this is science fiction (though I would argue it veers more into fantasy) there’s the chance to provide more of an explanation for his changing appearance.
The Doctor, and indeed the rest of his race, has the ability to “regenerate”. When on the point of death, an incredible burst of energy renews every cell in his body so that he gets a new one — and of course a new personality to fit with what every new actor wants to bring to the role. “It feels like dying,” one of the Doctors says. “Everything I am dies, some new man goes sauntering away.” The show tries to turn every regeneration into a special moment, and it never has to work too hard for it. It means every actor who plays the role has a first curtain and a final bow. Here’s what a regeneration scene can look like:
Regeneration feels exactly like what I’m going through right now. And it’s a bit dodgy, this process. You never know what you’re going to end up with.