I’m going to do something a little different today and be positive. I know I’m all about the swearing and the pee-pee jokes and the corruption of the youth, all bringing about the end of days and the rise of the Anti-Oprah and whatnot. But this is my blog, and if I want to give the fetid puddle of afterbirth that is the internet a LITTLE hug now and then, you can’t stop me goddammit.
As an aside, the rainbow-farty thing pictured above is supposed to be a unicorn. I typed “unicorn” and “rainbow” into google, and he popped up. I know he has no horn, but he’s probably already cripplingly self-conscious about it, so if you could refrain from calling attention to his deformity, that’d be aces.
So a few years ago, my life took something of a falcon punch to the baby-maker. I was cruising along pretty comfortably, my bride and I had bought a house, life was pretty good. And then I got retrenched from my job.
Now, let me tell you about this gig. I worked in an advertising agency, part of a huge, lumbering global network with multinational clients. When you’re a “creative” in an advertising agency, your life is a strange one. You’re given an extraordinary amount of illusory freedom. Not many people get to work a job where they’re allowed to wear jeans and a Decepticons t-shirt, pull down a lawyer’s salary and disappear to the pub for hours at a time in the name of “research”. But the price you pay for that “freedom” is a steep one.
I worked nights (sometimes all night). I worked weekends. I worked in a place where my ideas were literally for sale – people would come to the agency and slap a bunch of money down and tell us “Sell our widget – it has new doodads!”. All the energy you pour into your creations is at risk of falling victim to agency politics, or a bad meeting, or a client’s wife getting pissy because he didn’t buy her a BMW for her birthday this year. You are, in a very real way, a prostitute. But you’re not selling your lovemeats, you’re selling your ideas. Your energy. Your creativity. And the worst part? It’s to make people buy toilet paper. Or some obscene petrol-guzzling monstrosity. Or a particular brand of shoes. You’re not curing cancer or making the world a more awesome place to be, you’re trying to convince people to buy shit they don’t need with money they don’t have.
I did not like this job. In truth, I hated it so much it was turning me black inside. But those dollars, yo. That wonderful green and all the “freedom” it brings. Keeps you coming back, long after the love has died.
And then I got retrenched. It felt like a disaster. You can’t help but feel slighted in these situations. You can’t help but feel worthless. Even though I hated that job, the actual walk to the chopping block was hellish. But the strangest thing happened during the execution. As he was handing me my severance letter, the Person Formerly Known as My Boss said “Is there anything else you want to ask me for? Do you want to keep your computer maybe?”
And that was a strange question. He asked it in an odd way, and it’s stuck in my mind ever since – I can still see his expression as he spoke those words. And, dazed as I was, I had the presence of mind to agree, sure, I’ll keep my laptop, thanks fucker. And the strangest thing? That’s the exact same laptop I wrote my first novel on. It’s the laptop I received my first full request on. It’s the same laptop I wrote STORMDANCER on, after my first novel never got repped. It’s the same laptop I read my MacMillan contract on, I wrote my sequels on, that I talk to my editors and agent on. It’s the laptop I’m typing this post on, right now, as the clock ticks down to STORMDANCER’s release day and I’m busy writing book 3 of my first trilogy.
I’m not one who really believes in fate, but it’s funny how that day, that crushing moment of despair as I got handed my papers took my life in a direction I would never have expected, and has left me in a place cooler than I’ve ever been. How the machine upon which I used to pen scripts to hock breakfast condiments is now the same machine I write fucking NOVELS on – novels that the entire world will soon have the opportunity to read.
Life is a trip. Seriously.
So basically, what I’m saying is that awesome things can be born out of the suckiest situation. Unless the world is actually ending (it’s 2012, after all), whatever shit you’re going through isn’t the end of the world. Adversity makes you stronger, this thing we call life is just straight-up bizarre, and the hole you’re falling into could actually be a doorway to someplace fucking amazing. So hold tight and enjoy the ride. And remember that it is a ride.
Much love, peoples.