In January of 2016, I went back to work. Mainly to be able to afford to keep writing. My work earns me a reasonable sum of money but it’s that corporate deal-with-the-devil scenario where the nice pay check is accompanied by high blood pressure and a looming stomach ulcer. Yeah, it’s software related but the industry secret is that software jobs are mostly about conformity and drudgery. We’re the modern day equivalent of filing clerks in a 1950s insurance office.
I know, I know. I have a job and I’m lucky to have one. And most of the time I’m grateful except when I run into office strangeness that gives me an eye twitch. (I had one of those over 2013 and 2014 and it didn’t go away until I left gainful employment for a full year.)
Mike Judge’s 1999 movie, Office Space, does an excellent job of capturing the numbing effect of office life.
On the positive side (yes, there was one), going back to work and all of the inconveniences that went with it (a 4.30 a.m start, a one and a half hour commute, and a 30-minute lunch break if I was lucky), helped me, very slowly, to make some decisions. First off, I wanted to keep my creative activities separated from my working life. You reveal your creative life in an office at your own peril. Some people are cool with it but others simply don’t get it. The fact is, there are people in the office environment (and in our families) that find creativity very weird. They like people to do the same things they do. Go to the office, do office stuff, go home, take care of the kids. Rinse, repeat. As Mike Judge said, “The people I met were like Stepford Wives. They were true believers in something, and I don’t know what it was.”
I’m also not that much of a fan of attention. I don’t have an Instagram account, my Facebook page is for family and friends only, and I loathe Twitter.
This blog is about as exciting as it gets – but even that made me hesitate. What if someone found out I kept a blog? What if they found out I wrote fan fiction (under yet another pen name)? (The fan fiction thing is a whole other blog post.)
The weird paranoia about people brought me to one conclusion: I needed a pen name. A pen name completely unrelated in any way, shape or form to my ‘real’ name.
So, after much thought, I selected my pseudonym. I changed my blog over to the pen name, as well as my Amazon account. I attempted to sweep my other author’s name under a rug but didn’t quite manage to tidy it all up.
And with that, it’s back to blogging and writing, semi-safe in the knowledge that I’m semi-hidden from the glare of people I meet in real life.
I wonder if Thomas Pynchon can give me any tips about hiding? (He’d probably tell me not to keep a blog.)