Happy New Year!
I know, I know – I’m a bit late; but I like to road test a year before I recommend it to anyone else. Six days in and this year feels rather splendid to me, so I feel comfortable wishing it onto others.
Happy New Year!
But is it? Is it really happy? Are you really happy?
As it happens, right now I”m quite ludicrously happy. So happy with my life in general that I frequently think to myself: “If this is it, if this is all there is for the rest of my life, I’d be happy.”
Obviously, I want more money, more control over my career, a better career (maybe someone else’s) a nicer house and some kind of instantaneous cup-of-tea-conjuring apparatus built into my hand*; but the basics, the general template is all lovely.
I’m with someone I love, raising someone I love, in a house I love doing a job I love – ain’t that a lot of love for one heart to hold?
The thing is, I meet a lot of people who aren’t happy. And I’m not talking in the ‘I’ve got cancer/I’ve lost an appendage in a terrorist attack/my dog’s been face-raped by Satan’ kind of unhappiness; but rather in the ‘I’m not where I want to be’ kind of unhappiness.
It seems to me a lot of people are waiting to be happy, as if happiness is a destination you reach or a thing you can somehow acquire. It’s this ‘happy ever after’ syndrome we’re infected with from birth – as if someday you’ll get everything you ever dreamt of and then you’ll be happy forever.
What a crock of shit.
Relationships are the best example of this, the full on Cinderella ideal of meeting someone and falling into their arms as the image fades to black.
I’ll tell you why the image fades to black, because the next day, Cinders and Prince Charming have a blazing row about socks or putting the bins out or which bits of the toilet seat have to be in which position in order to constitute ‘left up’. All this is part and parcel of loving someone and as long as the good bits outweigh the bad then just keep going – living happily ever after is fucking impossible.
Unless you’re unconscious and on a morphine drip.
Writing’s another area like this – I sometimes get the impression unproduced writers feel they’d be happy if only they could get produced and dream of ‘breaking in’ (to what, exactly?). Produced writers think they’d be happy if only they got to work again, since the other side of breaking in looks suspiciously like the outside you’ve just broke in from. Writers working regularly think they’d be happy if only they could work on a project they actually liked. Writers working on a project they like think they’d be happy if only they could work with people they felt were slightly more competent than a bunch of retarded chimps on acid.
And so on.
As it happens, all of these things will make you happier, but none of them will make you happy.
Or at least not for very long.
Because happiness isn’t the destination, it’s the journey and if you’re not enjoying the journey then you need to find a different road. Doing something you hate in the short term for a long term goal is all well and good. Doing something you hate in the long term for a goal which is never going to fucking happen is stupid.
The only clever way to pursue a highly improbable goal is to be comfortable and happy while you’re doing it. That way, if you never achieve it, who cares? Life was still fun.
And let’s be very clear about this, earning a decent living as a professional scriptwriter is an extremely improbable goal. It probably isn’t going to happen for most of us who declare ourselves writers – partly because we’re not good enough, partly because we never get the lucky breaks but mostly because a large percentage of us will give up in disillusioned despair.
Which is just silly.
My point is … oh yes, for today and probably today only, I have a point!
My point is, enjoy the process.
If you’re unproduced, enjoy the thrill of the chase because I guarantee getting that first production off the ground is massively disappointing and frustrating. If you’ve had your first project produced (and ruined) then enjoy the challenge of finding someone more competent to work with.
But most of all, remember to love the writing. That’s really the key – love the thing you actually wanted to do in the first place no matter what other bullshit is happening. Even if you never, ever get any recognition whatsoever for your writing and it remains a personal thing for the rest of your life – as long as you enjoy doing it it’ll never be a waste of time.
And for the love of self-inflicted pain, make sure you’re enjoying the other bits of your life. The bits which don’t involve sitting in a darkened room peering at a series of nonsensical black marks on a white screen. Because the fastest way to be unhappy is to avoid interacting with other
You know what, mid way through that sentence I went for dinner, gave Alice a bath and put her to bed. Now I’m looking back over what I’ve written and it seems like a pretentious, pompous pile of puppy poo. Don’t take advice from me, don’t even read it. I don’t know shit.
All I know (apart from some startling facts about sparrows) is what makes me happy and what makes me happy is finding the bits of my life I enjoy and celebrating them. At the moment, the bits I enjoy far outweigh the bits I don’t; therefore I’m happy.
More importantly than that, if I continue living life the way I am then I look set to keep progressing along the road of happiness. Not to happiness, but of, because for me it’s all about the journey and I don’t see there being a fixed point after which I’ll be happy. If I wasn’t happy right now and there didn’t look like there would be a big patch of happiness coming up very soon, then I’d change direction and that’s what works for me.†
As for you lot, do whatever makes you happy in whatever way makes you happy. As long as it’s not garrotting kittens or slicing off babies’ lips and selling them at car boot sales.
In other words, Happy New Year – Jesus, I wish I’d just said that in the first place.
Oh, I did.
* As I typed this, Mandy brought me a cup of tea and a chocolate. You see? Dreams can come true!
† This is a really confusing metaphor and I’m beginning to wish I’d never started it now. If I don’t believe in there being a point where happiness begins, how can there be a patch of it up ahead? I think I’m trying to say something like ‘you don’t reach happiness and stop, you have to keep travelling and the point is to name the road Happiness’; but since most roads are called the B2154 then that make no fucking sense. And even that’s a fucking lie since if most roads were called the B2154 we’d either find it really fucking hard to get anywhere or we’d all end up in fucking Portsmouth and nobody wants that.
You see? You see what happens when I try to be all positive and life affirming? It doesn’t fucking work, does it? Now I’m not happy, but really fucking annoyed with myself. Fuck all this lovey dovey shit, I’m going back to swearing and slagging shit off.