We’re in a cauldron of hot pickle, aren’t we.
I can hardly think of anything else, day in, day out. I barely do any writing any longer — just bits at the weekend, on the whole, while during the week I do the mechanical things … invoicing that, printing this, responding to queries, updating blog posts, social media. There’s this low-level underlying stress which simmers daily and is my new normality. Heartburn too.
We can’t yet know the full extent of the damage upon the country and its people because of the Brexit crisis, and there is more to come. While I don’t wish to diminish the grim difficulties that our businesses, economy and society look set to face, here I really am interested in knowing how this is affecting writers.
Is it affecting you? It’s affecting me. I’m not really being a writer. I’m basically being a worrier, a fearer, a dreader. I’m doing the minimum I need to do to get by. I’m not pitching. I’m making do with rolling projects, and forcing myself to do something only when something needs doing. I can barely bring myself to open my BIPs (Books In Progress) (Is a BIP a thing? It should be).
I always swore to myself that I’d ignore politics on social media and remain on-topic, but lately I lapsed. I found myself reacting to two people: A Brexiteer who made a point so misinformed that the breeze from my eye-roll alone carried enough wind power to unilaterally activate the ‘Unfollow’ button; and a Remainer who Would Not Stop Tweeting at people reasons why we should remain that I simply couldn’t bear witness another word of it, and my bond with her was similarly revoked in a flash.
I hate that it’s done this to me, but it has.
I also find myself itching to take some sort of a stand when it comes to certain publications, and the writers who contribute to them, many of whom I follow. As a broadly liberal social democrat, I find the headlines and content we’ve seen in the likes of the Sun, the Express, the Spectator, and others, to be grim.
Do I stop reading them permanently? Do I unfollow them? Should I refuse to feature opportunities (eg a writing competition, as I have with the Spectator in the past) should the situation arise? Should I vouch to never work for them, or the publishers who publish these titles, or the editors who edit them?
Where does one draw the line, now that I’m determined that lines must be drawn? How much can you let politics infringe on your work and career and professional relationships? Do I leave the NUJ because Sun journalists are members? Do I refuse to sell my books on Amazon because Amazon sells books of which I do not approve? Who and what to boycott — and to what degree?
I find myself struggling with this, and it’s all mixed in with a general sense of disillusionment at the sorry state of journalism which I think is best exemplified by the BBC, who I think has done a woeful job over the last few years at conveying the meaning of the EU and of Brexit to its viewers, and has given a platform to extreme views, thereby normalising them. Despite having some great journalists, they’ve been rubbish.
And naturally that means I’m also reconsidering my TV license. More stress, more heartburn.
Previously, I told you to write about Brexit. And I did it again a year later. I tried to sell it as an opportunity. Go find a Nigel vasectomy story, I said. And now, I would seriously contemplate deleting those two posts would it not result in a buggering up of my Mistakes numbering system that I wouldn’t be able to remedy right now because ….
Well, because I’m just not doing any writing.
Except this. I’ve managed to do this. It was either this or listen to the Prime Minister, and I chose this.
Now, I’ll no doubt be going back to not writing.
I hope my regular readers are faring better?