Thursday 11 September 2014


There is a joke around our house that if the King starts to show any bent for a creative profession we are to crush it like a bug. (Oh calm down, we don’t really; (ahem) but the thought is definitely there as both his father and I are ‘creatives’ and sometimes rue the day we ever chose that path). Moreover, we hope and pray that he turns to us in years to come and says 'Guys, I want to be a mechanical engineer…and work in Formula One'….Ha! A pushy mother, with an affinity for sports, can dream.

The thing is this, any one out there knows that the creative arts, no matter what avenue you travel, are a brutal, long slog filled with frustration, disappointment and limited paychecks. Obviously I’m highlighting the negatives today (and will get to the positives, so be patient). Being a singer, writer, artist, sculptor…mime, what have you, is not for the weak. In fact, when you set out on the path, if you’re not strong enough, you’ll either figure out that you better get stronger, or pick a job that is a lot more stable. It's a professional avenue that tests you from every angle and demand that you develop some very thick skin (Simply look at all the artists in history. They're either deranged, drunks, or missing body parts). 

Over the years, especially as I live in a very expensive city, I’ve undertaken pretty much every job out there. Yes, we creative types are pretty darn creative when it comes to employment, as the main goal is to find something that allows you to live, and have flexible hours so you can, hence, be creative. Since I left university, I’ve done everything from 9-5 professional jobs (publishing, music companies, PA work etc.) to the most mundane jobs out there. Luckily I was raised with an excellent work ethic (thanks dad), and pride never got in the way of things. As a good friend, and fellow artist of mine always says, we (artist types) have no shame. I suppose it doesn't start out that way, but after many years, well, you check pride and shame at the door (not dignity, never ever dignity).

So for many years as I tried to pursue any avenue of writing (and succeeded on some levels), the jobs along the way were colorful and at times hysterical at best. I was a nanny, a dishwasher (a good fit for someone with OCD), a floral assistant (after getting torn apart by thorns, I realised this was not for me), a dog walker, an assistant to a stylist, did admin at a furniture for pets company and a coal company - I quickly realised coal was pretty boring -  a barista, a stall seller (never realised how cheap people with money were until I tried convincing the banking stiffs to buy their wives christmas gifts and spend more than a tenner) and of course, all the while wrote my butt off.  

The good thing about this wide and varied list is that things were certainly never dull and I always had ample fodder for my writing. In fact, my friends never hesitated to call me and ask for the latest hysterical story - one of my best friend's favourites, the day I had two wild kids in my charge and the feral dog that was on death's door decided to sh*t a mountain in the middle of the carpet. That was a fun day. There were certainly days when I thought to myself, seriously, is this all worth it?! And is this why I got my degree? (I'm sure my parents thought that as well). But then I’d remember the ultimate goal (being a screenwriter, and writer full stop for that matter) and how badly I wanted it, and reining in someone's feral child instead of sitting chained to a desk didn’t seem so bad.

It’s pretty simple when it comes to having a dream – AND the luxury of being able to dream, as many don’t have that luxury, reality is far too brutal – you have to tell yourself two things, one: if you give up, the dream ends, two: you may have to amend the dream a bit along the way. I was told by a writer friend of mine years ago that whatever your goal is, every day you should do something towards it. It can be little or big, it doesn’t matter, but it should be an action that moves you forward in some fashion (and alcohol can certainly help in this process). 

For me, to my great surprise, after 15 years of writing and trying to make a film, it looks as if I’ll finally have a film go into production in the next month (whoooooo team BC). It’s a bit surreal and I’m certainly trying to remain realistic in the face of it (as anyone knows, things in the creative world can fall apart at any moment), but I’m also trying to enjoy the moment I’ve been working tirelessly for all these years. And I suppose that’s it right there, you gotta work; you work everyday for something that means the world to you, and you tell yourself that it may work out and it may not (I don’t believe in luck and I don’t believe in things happening because you want them more than the next person. There are plenty of deserving people wanting and dreaming out there that never have their dreams realised). But you remind yourself that the quest was everything, and what you learned along the way is tantamount. My quest shaped me and made my skin as thick as hell, and despite the long slog and the unglorified jobs, and poor paychecks, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything (okay, maybe for a few more pay checks and less dog sh*t, but hey).

So okay, King, if you want to be a singer or paint abstract truck motifs, that’s fine, but you better start learning a day trade, cause cheese doesn’t come for free.

Copyright © 2014 Anthea Anka - Delighted And Disturbed