As I see the people around me garner the success they have always wanted, I reflect: what is success to me?
When I was a junior reporter in a local weekly newspaper, every day was full of potential. At the end of the week, I would see the results of the team’s labour. A portion of those stories still exist on the web; if you have time to kill, I have attached a few below.
So why the change in career? Well, I had a number of flaws: I was bad at remembering to get facts checked in time for the deadline; I couldn’t stand attending late night council meetings; and I was awful at making a good first impression when interviewing people. In short, I was a rubbish journalist; my colleagues thought so, my boss thought so, my university profesor thought so, and, most importantly, I thought so too. Unsurprisingly, I felt like a failure, I acted like a failure, and I became a failure.
[I have repeated these “reasons” or “excuses” ad nauseam in conversation, but it always feels good to commit them to the page.]
The moment when I decided to jack in newspaper journalism was a low. I had sunk five grand into it, and I was still paying off the debts. There seemed no redeeming feature – not even a soft news one.
I went to careers advice to help determine which job was for me. Despite having difficulties with the language when young, I always imagined that English was my strength. I usually gave myself a high mark in that area on the career sheets because I could use a dictionary, and had a wide vocabulary – not to mention a really flashy Parker pen, which I mostly doodled with.
I tried to choose a career that would fit me best, so I chose teaching, and having a yen for reading, I chose writing as my side career.
I wanted to believe that writing would be my primary goal. There were those memories of a version of the tell-tale heart I wrote for my GCSE that got an okay mark, despite my appalling handwriting. While I was studying at university, I remembered that I continued to write stories. Yet, this is a lie.They weren’t stories, but scraps.
Now we travel back to the present to see the results of all this:
Have I rocked the world of magazines? No
Have I had a story accepted by a magazine? Erm (one erotic story also attached below)
Am I working as a teacher? Yes. I’m just about scraping a living, and it all feels rather desperate.
It’s not nil points but it’s no Euro win.
As the Rolling Stones song goes: You don’t always get what you want. Well I’ve got more than the basics. I have a wonderful life in Santa Coloma with a wonderful wife, and puppy. This to me is success in my home life.
What about shaking my moneymaker?
Well, I’ll continue to teach until it proves implausible, and the same goes for writing.
It’s not success, but it will do, while I aim a little bit higher.
You see success for me is to submit stories to magazines and webzines that suit the direction of my stories. I don’t want to necessarily ramp up the hit counter on my blog, just maintain it. Success is a better working relationship with my students. Success is Spanish B2, and drawing people, so they don’t look like Shrek. Success is calling myself a short story submitter, and, as a result, submitting more stories to magazines – both electronic and paper. Success is getting my stories accepted numerous times by countless small publications no-one has ever heard of. Success is not talking about my goals to the detriment of my personal relationships. Success is not caring what people think. Success is walking the dog and thinking up ideas. Success is not being a big old grouch. Success is trying to make all this readable. Maybe, I have succeeded.
Girls night out, Bareback Magazine, 2010.
New mercury ban may shut Local Crematorium, Harrow Times, 9th January, 2002.
Finding true love is as easy as tossing a salad, Bucks Free Press, 13th February, 2002