Atychiphobia

I haven’t written a blog in a while. This is because of (un)employment, distractions and me being trapped in a self inflicted mental bubble. If you want the big life update, go and follow me on twitter.

I’m here to write about something else. Mostly because a few people, including myself, haven’t had the most encouraging time lately. I’ve spent the past weekend thinking about it and trying to figure out why.

If I’m honest, I’ve applied for a few jobs over the course of the past couple of months. Literally a few. This is because I’ve grown accustomed to the inventible rejection and failure that I can’t bring myself to do it. I cannot drum up enough enthusiasm to rework my CV, create a cover letter tailored to whichever area I’m trying to get in to and see it receive no reply, a stock reply after a month or just get to nowhere.

It is actually quite crippling how the rejection of jobs, not even interviews but the preliminary applications, affects you. I’m not talking one or two, I’m talking dozens. I’m nearly up to the magic century of jobs within a year. Of course most of the work I want to do involves working for free for a completely unknown amount of time (which is something I or any family sponsoring me cannot afford) or mass networking. The latter I can and have done but I don’t feel it to the shameless enough degree that I could ask anyone something. It’s a hard thankless and cutthroat world I’m trying to enter and the more you try, the harder it will resist you.

I think I sit in this room in front of my computer every day of every week. I have little physical socialisation and, apart from the times where I’m working a night shift here, I rarely accomplish anything. At least that’s how it feels. I’ve had two recent rejections for screenwriting submissions and these were encouraging. Mostly because I heard something back and it was actually proof that someone had read it. I’ll be honest, this was my first time out for a script and I was over the moon that at least I had got as far as I had. I should have been bummed out or angry and persistent to carry on. But I was happy and encouraged and this pleased me.

Then I realised I couldn’t share that enjoyment with anyone. I also realised I haven’t shared anything about my anxiety and fear with my friends. Not only do I worry that they don’t understand and that I’m a bit of a bum and a failure in their eyes (which I guess I am at the time of writing) but they can’t relate to what I’m experiencing or the work I’m attempting to do. And why should they? They don’t know anything really about what I’m attempting to achieve other than it’s quite hard. They don’t understand exactly how much my insecurity and, for lack of a better word, fear grips me and keeps me awake for hours, stops me moving when I wake up and how much I feel imprisoned.

I am lucky in my current situation but I am aware it’s stopping me from being forced to do things. With the last year, I had such a run of productivity that I genuinely yearn for now. The only post-uni blues I have is based around that sense of confidence, encouragement and excitement at the work I was yet to do, coupled with my location. I’ve always tried to move away. Not because I hate the place or anything, my friends have chosen to settle here and I respect that. But for me it’s like a weight. It’s hard to explain and maybe my words aren’t formed enough to do it justice. There’s a pressure on your body that you get when you suddenly brake your car from a high speed. It forces you into a position and makes you immobile. Not just your body but your mind as well. The adrenaline and sudden rush almost paralyses your brain of any thought and you live for a moment completely thoughtless and absent apart from your own body and what you see in front of you. That’s how I feel here.

This isn’t intended to be a whiney post to cultivate sympathy or support, although the latter is always welcome especially as I’m a needy twat sometimes. But it’s intended to speak to the people I know that also have problems, feel like dropping it all and giving in. Those of you who read this and recognise a bit of yourself in it. Whether or not a job you wanted hasn’t materialised or you just feel a bit lost and unsure where you’re heading, just read the following:

You aren’t alone. We are all in this together. It sounds silly but we are but young and naive creatures in a vicious environment. Regardless of what we’ve been prepared for, our age, our experiences, nothing could have exactly prepared us for how things have turned out. But they will get better if they believe they will. Because if we believe, then we will work at making our beliefs reality. As hypocritical as I probably sound saying this, there will be a time for us, all of us, and it will come when we least expect it because we are so busy trying to make it happen. But we all need to support each other and prop each other up. It’s hard and you need to pick and choose what you listen to and who you seek counsel in. Sometimes, people seem different and distant but that’s more because you have done the same to achieve your goals. Once you get there, they’ll understand. You need to find the people now who will completely support you and remind you that carrying on is better than giving in. Things will come together.

The title of this post means fear of failure in the sense that is is persistent and uncontrollable. Everybody will say they are optimistic but deep down, we all have this rooted in our psyche. Sometimes things happen in our lives that bring this to the surface much more predominantly, and that’s OK. We fear that we are wasting ourselves because we believe in ourselves that we should be achieving something. We are hungry for it, desperate maybe, and certainly willing to sacrifice for it. I’ve found that my fear of failure isn’t the fear of me failing, but the fear that if I do fail, I’m not sure where I would turn to be picked up again. Once I find that which picks me up, and you find that as well, then we all shall never fear again.

The Dissertation Diary – Easily Distracted

Well. What a week.

It’s always hard to do anything at all in life when life gets in the way. Last week, life majorly got in the way of all dissertation related endeavours. I do now have a supervisor for my project and the few people that have asked really like the story idea so hopefully, this will come off well. So I flew in to this week with commitment and confidence that only life could ruin… Well life and whatever tawdry low-budget tosh my friends have cared to tape from the Horror channel and play over take-out and friendly banter. Which is where this weeks journey began. Shortly followed by finishing some sketches and one lines for BBC Radio 4 that didn’t get used. Sad face.

Fast forward to Monday. 5am. Awake. I’ve never got up that early on purpose unless to catch a flight. But this time it was to meet one of the heroes of my, and my friends, life. The actor, bodybuilder, writer, businessman, politician and Austrian (that counts), Arnold Schwarzenegger. Early morning rises are not fun at the best of times, even less so when having to stand outside Waterstones in Piccadilly from 7:30am and only just make it into the queue. The man at the front had been there since 7pm the night before. 12 HOURS! I can’t imagine that, as the one thing I would not want to do when getting Arnie to sign my book is smell like I’ve slept on a London street overnight. But we got in, were rushed along with hardly a hello or a handshake, got our book signed, ate a burger and left. But it was totally worth it. Here’s my good friend Charlie (@brownsell) getting his book increased in value.

Later that day, via the medium of twitter and random contacts, I had a small open spot doing stand-up at UCL for Tuesday. Obviously whenever I do any comedy I always feel completely nervous, way out of my depth and a complete phoney. But that’s half the fun. It went quite well, the other acts were astounding (Tony Law a particular highlight) and I survived. However I was doomed to get the last train home (1:30am). Bearing in mind I had to be back at LMU (which I’d just spent half the night criticising) for 10am, I was one sleepy Sean. Panda eyes in full effect.

So, lets be honest. Going out drinking with friends after lectures, watching the England game and being out until 10:30, really isn’t a great idea. Especially when you have so much reading to do and writing to think about and after I’d just started a new gym regime. So I spoilt that with Nando’s and alcohol. But I still felt pretty good going in to Thursday. Back to the gym and then to a hospital appointment was the plan. I’ve recently been in hospital for an operation so I had to have a check up. Positive: Got to read a crap load of a book whilst waiting to be seen. Negative: I had to wait for an hour only to get crappy news and have nothing except the crappy book I had to read. This completely ruined my day and brought back a lot of other problems. Life yet again throws a curveball (baseball reference – see I’m learning).

Friday however was fairly ordinary and life did nothing but plod along taking me in its wing for lectures, a lot of reading, meetings, home and gym. Which led to Saturday where gym also occurred as well as some reading. But in the end, it led to many friends on my bed, lots of drinking, a terrible hangover and yet more sobering realisations that I probably, and very dangerously, vomited in my sleep. Not cool. Fast forward to Monday (now) where I am documenting the week’s distractions, which in itself is a distraction from reading more university stuff and researching. I’ll catch up this week before an AWESOME NFL WEEKEND!

I guess I’m easily distracted.

Word Count: 312

Reading: Lucky Man. A memoir – Michael J. Fox

The Dissertation Diary – 32,500 verbs and adjectives

Thirty two thousand, five hundred words. Over the course of the next year, that’s how much I have to write – minimum. The bulk of that will be my dissertation, but the rest is all the little essays, presentations and commentaries.

If you want to put that in to perspective, that’s around 16 average sized essays over a year. Or half an average novel. Or 31,750 more sensical words than the average Ultimate Warrior WWF promo. I must admit that it’s a bit daunting. It’s a bit daunting to do the entire 10,000 word short story, even though I mostly have it sussed. I have to research several elements of this to get it right. First I have to find the right affliction (which I think I have). Then I have to map the route this journey will take. Then I have to think practically how these people in their situation can get to the even they are meant to get to so that I can navigate them to the end of the story. In between that I have to create some dramatic tension, a sense of relation with the reader and I have to right confidently enough and strongly enough that I can hook a reader with the first paragraph and keep them there for the next 9,600 words.

Thats the last thing of course. Before then, I have lots of smaller tasks, at least 15 books to read, analyse, discuss and critique. Oh woe is me (sarcasm). You know, I chose this path for my life. I was aware, although somewhat less informed at the time, of the gravity of my choice. What I would have to do, the level of maturity and commitment it would take to develop not only my skills but my mind and my attitude towards this career of writing.

Writing is solitary confinement for the emotionally crippled and the socially self-masochistic. Over the past two years, I’ve desperately tried, as I probably did for the years previous to that, to hang on to the last strands of youth. To find what I always craved in love and muse and to actually be happy and productive. I now know that can’t happen. I don’t mean that in a defeatist depressing way at all. Lots of people can find happiness in life and work. I however am not one of them, at least not at this stage in my life.

What’s with all this emotional baggage, Sean? Well, it’s precisely this: I need to forget all of that. Everything. I need to exist in the bubble of reading, writing and creating. I need to forget the late nights boozing with people years my junior. I need to leave the baggage I’ve created for myself with love. I need to forgo any commitments for the most part that detract from the pursuit of writing. There’s a picture next to my desk on the wall of one of my favourite movies, Casablanca. Champagne is being poured in glasses on a piano that Sam is playing. Rick Blaine is pouring it whilst looking directly as Ilsa Lund who is looking away and down, unable to meet his eye. Because she knows deep down the truth of the matter that this around her, her wish, cannot be. Rick realises this and starts the process of sacrificing for their benefit.

In the same way, I must sacrifice all of this for the attitude of writing. If I don’t, then how can I call myself a writer or continue as one post-university? I need to get this frame of mind practiced and the year long task of producing as many words as half a novel serves no better purpose than to do that. If I can do this then I can do anything. Some things, as I’ve come to learn the hard way, are harder to let go than others. Some I don’t think ever truly leave you. But as I tweeted recently I know when I publish that first book what the dedication will be. It might lay some ghosts to rest, or it might excise them. Either way, then is the time for reflection and for life. Until then I must carry on with this plane of thought because if I don’t, to paraphrase Rick, I’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But someday and for the rest of my life.

Sean sits in front of his computer and starts typing the end of his story in full. This final paragraph will serve as his goal to reach. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Sean

Word Count: 312

Reading: Waterland – Graham Swift; Japanese Phrases for Dummies – Eriko Sato PhD.