I was asked the other day if I regretted anything about being a writer. At first I was about to say that no, I didn’t- it’s what I want to do after all- but thinking back, I realised that there were one or two things I probably would have done differently had I known how it was all going to pan out at the time.
I spent a great deal of the last decade attempting to climb the greasy corporate pole, although I never got quite as high as the glass ceiling before something or someone would drag me back down. I certainly wasn’t cut out for the corporate environment, and I was generally pretty unpopular- in retrospect, I suppose that especially during the final few years of it, I cared less and less, and I certainly didn’t care enough to at least hide my contempt for that particular world.
So I guess that would be one regret, although I don’t really think about it that much- like everyone else I had to get a job of some sort, after all, and like everyone else I tried to get promotions (or rather, I tried to get a higher salary. The promotion was the penalty I had to pay for that salary). But, not being much of a team player, and detesting having to put on a cheerful, helpful face every morning to all my co-workers, it eventually became clear that it wasn’t for me.
My main regret is that I would have wanted to kick on with my books and get them “out there” whilst I was still young. Everything becomes more of a struggle as you get older, and seems to sap your energy more and more. The one thing that does seem to have increased with age is my willpower (in terms of sticking at my writing tasks). Sometimes it even wins the constant struggle against the inevitable monster, Decrepitude. But that’s just as well, when physically and mentally you know you’re way past the cusp of the hill and freewheeling down into the shadowy valley.
You could say the two regrets are linked. The path of corporate mediocrity diverted me from the one thing I’ve always wanted to do- and although I can forgive the daily commute with identikit office drones, the tea rounds, the endless capacity for spiteful gossip, the not-compulsory-but-really-they-are drinks after work (when all you want to do is get the hell home), I really can’t find it within myself to forgive that choking, demeaning world of absolute dullness for causing me to stray from my real path.
But of course, I don’t think about it much. No, really.
Oddly enough, it was the publication of Oblivion’s Forge that really spurred me on to other projects- not just the sequel, and hopefully others in the series, but the anthology of short stories, and another novel which I’ve started work on in the last few weeks. I think partly it was because it generated a certain level of expectation amongst readers, and the feedback was so encouraging. Being on the path is one thing, but being on the path and being encouraged all the way is quite another- you feel that much lighter.
Speaking of which: words to write before I rest…