“What’s it going to be then, eh?” is how every part of Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ starts. It’s how every day of our own lives start too.
Is this the day we finally get our shit together? Is this the day we do everything that we’ve been putting off? Is this the day we’re going to do something different, something special? Or are we just going to muddle through it, work another shift at a job we’re sick of and do the exact same thing as yesterday? I’m not trying to be inspirational here, I’m just stating facts. If we want to change our lives, we can.
In Philip. K. Dick’s ‘A Scanner Darkly,’ Rob Arctor had a boring normal life, a family, a job. Then he hit his head on an open cupboard door and through the pain saw that his future was going to be nothing but the same ever-repeating patterns, and decided that it wasn’t the life he wanted to live anymore. And I guess that’s the closest analogy I have for how I became a writer. It happened almost by accident. It wasn’t a career that I ever sought, or even thought possible. But one morning in the middle of 2017 I awoke with an idea in my head that needed to be written down. And I’ve been writing ever since.
I’m still struggling to work it in around my job and my family. I’m still learning so much, finding my way through it all. The first thing that I wrote was a 60k word YA sci-fi / crime story (which I’m still editing). And then I figured out I shouldn’t just launch it out there into the void, I should create a platform, publish some short stories, and hopefully get some people interested in my stuff. I’m in the middle of expanding a short story into a novella, and if we’re all lucky that might be published later this year.
Back to “what’s it going to be then, eh?” though. That’s not just a once-a-day or a once-a-week type question. That’s asked of us every time a colleague tells a racist joke, or when you witness sexism or bullying on your way home, for example. When you see any behaviour like that, you ask yourself “shit, should I say something here?” And stepping up in that moment can change you too. You feel better about yourself, and you won’t spend the rest of the day / week / year wishing you did something. This is the topic of one of the first short stories I ever wrote, and might even publish it here soon.
Before I sign off, I want to say that yes, both Anthony Burgess and Philip K. Dick are two of my favourite authors. Dick’s imagination and creativity was simply mindblowing. Burgess was an absolute master of language, and really showed how powerful and effective the written word can be. Thanks for reading my blog and following me on my journey!
- Originally published January 2019