Becoming a freelance writer is a leap of faith. Giving up regular employment to enter an overcrowded and competitive profession is a tough call. Even if you are talented, you will have to fight like merry hell to have anyone notice your brilliance. Oh, you thought it would shine like a beacon upon the world, attracting to you all that you dreamed would be yours?
In time, perhaps. Perhaps.
In the meantime, you will need to spend your time in The Chasm.
The Chasm is the void that exists beneath your briefly airborne feet once you have made your leap of faith. The leap won’t get you where you want to be. The ledge you want to land on that seemed so close on take-off will always recede away from you. In fact, the leap is specifically intended to put you deep into that dark place so that you may begin to work out how to start your ascent, feeling for handholds and crevices, pulling yourself up and then skittering back down – hopefully not all the way.
Anyone can fall in The Chasm, no matter how lofty or lowly their ambitions. It is simply the gap between where you are and where you would like to be. But The Chasm is darkest for those whose belief in their talent is strongest, whether or not that belief is correctly held or but a sad delusion. These are the people who most want their success, who most believe they deserve it and can achieve it, and are therefore most disheartened by how distant remains the goal.
No one who falls in The Chasm will ever truly climb out. Many, unconsciously, will not want to. Emerging means your goals are fulfilled, and it is the nature of ambitious people to always be reinventing themselves, seeking new challenges and pursuing new achievements. There is always more to do.
Then there are those who would give their soul never to have made that blind leap, because their time in The Chasm has grown too long and they have tried everything and are too weary to strive upwards any longer. But they cannot forget the existence of what they now feel to be forever out of their reach. They cannot unremember the dreams they held close. They cannot ignore the footfalls and laughter of the successful ones far above them, picking and choosing whatever they want, whenever they want it.
At some level or other I’ve been in The Chasm for over 25 years. My curtailed career as a novelist no more than niggles now, but the acting is the worst. It never took off for me after RADA. I did occasionally feel my fingertips creep into the sunlight with a good role here and there, but then someone would tramp down hard on them. It doesn’t help that I accept it’s over – my location and my regular work put paid to any notion it may still come good (a mercy killing, to be sure). It doesn’t help because I still want to do it, and, as long as I feel that way, I’m still down there.
You may not have a clue what I’m talking about. If not, consider yourself very fortunate.