I am becoming increasingly certain that days off are a myth invented by corporations to lure you into the mysterious world of management consultancy. At any rate, I haven’t come across one in a while. Then again, maybe I’ve been too busy saying yes to every vaguely creative job I can. If someone offers me a job, a couple of hours of writing, or a wall that needs to be painted, I have to say yes, on the off chance that every other wall in London has already been finished. What if this is the last wall left to paint? Or the most important wall, the wall that could launch my career, the wall that would get me more walls and eventually maybe even four walls inside which I would find a gallery ready and waiting to be filled with my work? But there’s no telling if this wall could be that wall until it’s done. So I keep saying yes. Yes to another bar job because this one is in a theatre, yes to a day of volunteering because this time it’s in a gallery, yes to 8 articles a month on snow tyres because £4 an article is better than £0 an article and at least I’m writing something. People ask me what I do for a living and I pull out an A4 page.
There aren’t ready-made graduate schemes for creatives. There isn’t a ladder to climb
I am terrified of saying no, in case the one thing I say no to is the one thing I should’ve said yes to. I am living in a constant state of panic that someone will ask me what I have done today and I will have to answer “nothing”. Worse, that someone will ask me what I have done this year and the answer will be the same. Nothing. Nothing. Still nothing. Could you define “something” for me? You can’t say yes to everything. There isn’t enough of you. I am used to measuring myself against my peers in other industries, and I am watching them overtake me. I am watching their houses get bigger and the wine they serve at dinner parties get nicer. I am watching them talk about worlds I do not understand and my incomprehension makes me feel like a child so I am running to keep up but I don’t have the right shoes on and it is hurting my feet.
So this is what I am trying to remember. There aren’t ready-made graduate schemes for creatives. There isn’t a ladder to climb. There are stepping stones that move as you jump towards them, that take you forwards and backwards or nowhere at all. Some days I won’t have a single idea. Those days are okay. On those days I will do my laundry and see someone for coffee and maybe finally finish that documentary I keep falling asleep halfway through. I will take time to pause, to take in the world and I will start again tomorrow. Because sometimes we have to stop.