Studiously avoiding work

Another great post from my favourite agoraphobic cult novelist on that juggling act between writing and work that every author must perform at one stage.

The next day was my day for agoraphobia therapy so I set off several hours early and then just hung around uselessly for ages. Another very poor day, all in all. Though it was interesting being on a bus at 8.30 in the morning, something I haven’t experienced for some years. It was full of people going to work, and none of them looked very happy, which is understandable.

I haven’t been to work for many years, though I was employed full-time earlier in my life. My last job was as a clerk for the local council, and before that I was a library assistant, a clerk at the Brixton benefit office, and also a manual labourer.

When my first book was published, Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, I kept on being a clerk for the council, but next year, 1988, when Lux the Poet came out, a magazine phoned me up for an interview. So I thought, well if magazines are phoning me up for interviews I must be close to being a famous and wealthy author, so I’d better just stop working. Which I did. And that turned out to be a mistake at the time, as I’d neglected to consider that I didn’t really have any income, apart from puny royalties of a few hundred pounds per year.

However, have studiously avoided work ever since then. Indeed this is my main reason for being an author, and always has been, so I don’t have to go to work. This has gone well, in terms of being able to lie on the couch doing nothing for days at a time, but has sometimes been a problem in terms of income. However, I’m doing better now. There is no need to send food parcels.

My Prozac experience is going okay so far – but I am worried that it will become a dependency. The first time I was on this med, I made the mistake of not refilling my prescription before going to work on Friday. By late afternoon I was jittery and sweating and took an early finish. Then it was a sprint from Leeds town centre (where I then worked) to the doctor’s surgery in deepest Hyde Park. Then nearest pharmacy. Dry-swallowed twenry milligrams. Relief.

A few weeks later, I was at a party at a house a few minutes away from mine. It was a great atmosphere with loads of good friends around, but for no reason I started getting increasingly tense and edgy. Then I remembered I’d forgotten to take the medication that day. Quick jog home, quick twenty milligrams, back. The symptoms disappeared, but I felt like a junkie. Even the most beneficial drugs can be addictive.

One Response to “Studiously avoiding work”

  1. Rachel Fox Says:

    I tried to work for a bit after uni but it was a fairly disastrous run of dramatic episodes. Now, like Millar, I studiously avoid work (as in going out to work) and I feel much better for giving up the pretence.

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