Imagine you’ve found the perfect job, you’ve read the description on seek.com and it fits everything you’ve always dreamed of for your perfect job.
Excellent, so now for the next part you need to write the job application and send it off. Except you realise you don’t actually know what the job requirements are. You know some people with this job have a university degree and some do not. Some have been working in similar fields, and therefore have a level of experience, and others do not. Some have been doing smaller versions of this job and been given awards for their work.
You have nothing to put on your resume, but people assure you you’re still capable of the job.
There’s no interview, but suddenly you’ve got the job.
The job specs are favourable. You have no boss, no set hours, half an hour or ten, you decide. You can even wear your pyjamas to work if you like. No pants? Sure, why not.
The only downside – you don’t get paid.
But that’s okay, because this is your perfect job, you love it.
Now, you’ll need to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to be doing, because there’s no boss to tell you remember.
With coffee and laptop on hand you’ll now need to aimlessly do the job for the next…well, that’s up to you, it depends on your commitment, oh and motivation. If you don’t have any of that you might as well give up now. You’ll need to head to your job each day without truly knowing if and when you’ll be done. For the sake of this story, let’s say a year.
So, after one year of learning on the job, you’re done. You’ve finished the job you set out to do.
Hang on, you thought you’d finished? Oh, no, you’re not even close to being done, in fact, that was the easy part.
Right, so for your job you wrote a tonne of words, and I mean a crap load, a whole book full. But now you’ll need to delete a whole heap of those words and write some better ones.
Which ones? I don’t know, that’s your job to work out.
Great, so a few more months have passed, and you decide to get some help from outside, let’s call them readers. People to tell you if you’ve performed as well as you hoped in your job, and where the work you’ve done needs improvement.
You never expect this part of the job spec to be so difficult, but crazy as it may seem, your job isn’t as important as theirs, so it’s a little like repeatedly bashing your head on a brick wall.
Continue to bash your head on the brick wall for another six months.
It’s now going to feel a little like you’re going in circles, and that’s because you are. You need to go back and do it all again. Cut words, find better words, cut more words, find more better words. But don’t let this put you off, you still get to do this another fifty times.
Okay, assuming you still love your job, and assuming there’s a desire to get a little more from this career, you decide to apply for another job, another dream job, one where others will see the work you’ve created. This one will have a boss and rely heavily on the work you did without one. Even though you’ve got absolutely no idea if you’ve performed well or not, you will now use this as evidence to prove your worth in the field.
Except, there are about a hundred other people going for the job and only one of you will get it. You pluck up the courage and go for it anyway.
You don’t get it.
You try with six other different jobs and don’t get those either. You’ve heard of some people applying for fifty jobs or more and still not getting through, but somehow, you’re incredibly lucky and you get the job on try no eight.
You’ve finally got a boss! You’re also finally going to get paid soon, but there’s still no guarantee that it’ll be much more than lunch money. But still, this is good, this is great, this is exactly what you always wanted.
Ah, but do you remember all that work you’ve already done? Your boss assures you they love it, but at the same time tears it to shreds because it needs to be better. Let’s imagine that entire book full of words being placed through a paper shredder, being handed back to you, and being told to fit it all back together again. Dream job right there.
You still have no set hours, you can still work in your pyjamas, but now you also have a time frame. When that time is up, you can momentarily slip into the delusion that your work is complete while your boss gets an associate to put all your hard work through another, finer shredder before handing it back to you for reassembling.
Once you got yourself a boss, you thought your job would change, but any changes are barely noticable. It will still be lonely, it will still rely solely on your motivation and desire to complete the work. It will still involve hours on end staring at a laptop screen with no indication of reward at the end, i.e. pay. Your back will ache, your eyes will grow weary, you’ll forget to move and maybe you might even forget to eat or use the bathroom.
And finally, after years of work, you actually do complete the job. There is no more you can do now. It’s ready to share with the world.
And you will be judged. Not on the thousands of hours you put into the work you produced, not on the heart you poured onto every page, or the tears you shed along the way. You will be judged on those final letters that became words, that turned into sentences and made up your story. A story you’ve laboured over and loved within an inch of its life but now belongs to everyone else except you.
Now I ask you…would you still like the job?
I wrote this satirical take on writing a book a year ago, just before the release of my debut, LUCID. A lot has changed this year, notably that I’m now self-publishing the sequel, LUMINOUS. You can read more about that decision here.
Writing a book is honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted to do, it’s also the most rewarding (and I’m not talking about the money – writing is never about the money). But it mustn’t be that painful, or I’m just crazy, because I’ve continued to do the ‘job’ three more times, all at various stages of the process, with one only weeks away from publication. I’ve learnt to adapt, I’ve grown as a writer, completing the first round only takes me a couple of months instead of a year, and bashing my head against the brick wall is now much less intense, that, or my head’s grown stronger.
The job is tough, but don’t let my sarcasm stop you from pursuing the dream of writing. If you want to write a book, you can, because guess what, you’ve got the job.