I’ve been having a bit of a rough time recently with my ‘other’ career, the one that actually pays ‘dem bills that keep insisting on being paid. I don’t generally talk about work work in any of my online life because, well, I’ve made that mistake before. Needless to say, however, the day when I can jack it all in an enjoy the sweet, sweet life of a full-time author cannot come quick enough. No, seriously. It can’t, because unless it’s coming in the next few months, I’m going to need to find something else.
I am relatively lucky in the grand scheme of things. The job I do is well paid, and doesn’t make me feel like I’m being slow-roasted by the fires of Hades on every weekday that I attend it. I should be able to find someone else to pay me to do roughly the same job, for roughly the same kind of money. So that’s all good. What’s less good is that I’m probably going to have to move to where those jobs are, which at the moment seems to be anywhere apart from where I currently live.
My family and I moved to the coast less than a year ago. It was always supposed to be a temporary step, but since we got here we’ve utterly fallen in love with the place. It’s a gorgeous part of the country, kind of like Hobbiton but with loads of goths for no apparent reason, making it pretty much perfect in my eyes. It’s going to be a real shame to leave it, if we have to.
Anyway, because of everything that’s been going on, I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams. Not as in the nightly encounters with unicorns or whatever junk floats through your subconscious but the life goal kind. What I really want to be doing with my life. I mean, a career is all well and good, but it’s not quite the same as having a dream. Obviously, the writing is paramount, and is always the end goal of any vision I have for myself, but then there’s always the other dream, the one that’s nagging away at the back of my mind. The dream of a little cafe in a seaside town, one that sells books, and records, and really good coffee, and the kinds of toasties that can cause your arteries to clog up just by looking at them.
You know, that dream.
So today, the thought occurred to me: hey, you live in a seaside town, and you’re about to undergo a dramatic change in circumstances. What about that dream, you know, that one.
The one with no desk.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In my mind I created a kind of community cafe, full of comfy couches and really really good books, where writing groups could hang out in a reserved area, and local acts could do open mic while being banned from singing anything written by Noel Gallagher. I could learn the bookseller’s side of the business, and make contacts that would ultimately be beneficial to the writing career. And, when it was quiet, I could sit behind the till and write. Hell, I could sell books right in my very own store, maybe even offer Blood on the Motorway themed cupcakes.
Maybe not that last one.
It's not just my dream, either. My wife has the same dream, something we only really discovered about each other a few years ago. Hers is a nice bookshop, maybe a coffee shop. A cool place for local artists and the community. Basically the same as mine, maybe with slightly less cheese in the toasties, because she doesn't like cheese as much as me for some unfathomable reason. I mean, have you tried cheese? It's bloody brilliant.
We've been speaking about this all day, back and forth with all the things we could do. Then, inevitably, reality came crashing back around us. Neither of us have anywhere near the level of knowledge we’d need to launch a business like that. Plus I’d probably burn the toasties. (I'm being generous here. I'd never burn toasties. Toasties are too precious. My wife would absolutely burn them though. But if she asks, say I said it's me who'd burn them.) Oh, and there’s the whole ‘having to support a small family’ business that doesn’t exactly lend itself to financial instability. And, when you look at the statistics of failure for small businesses, that’s not exactly a distant possibility.
However, it’s a good dream. A nice one to hold. Maybe, over the next decade or so, we can accumulate the knowledge. Maybe accumulate some start-up cash. The coast will always be there. In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep going back to a desk.
There are worse places to go.
Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list.