It's been quite a year, what with one thing and another! But anyway, I am still writing this blog, even if my entries are slightly more sporadic and less interesting than they were, say, a year ago. But things have changed, and as we enter the shortest and darkest (or whatever it is) day, I thought I might reflect on what has changed over the past 12 months. I do this in the form of a 'round robin', the kind that people might slip into a Christmas card on a nice bit of jolly xmassy stationery, in a completely inoffensive way which nevertheless provides tedious comedy bronze to be mined by talking heads on "Grumpy Old Cunts at Christmas" and similar programmes.
This time last year, I had a job. It was quite a nice job, in many ways, now I look back on it, although if truth be told it did leave me somewhat lacking in satisfaction. That's no fault of the job itself, but rather of me - I didn't really get out of it what I put into it. I didn't put an awful lot into it, either. That said, I worked as hard as I could, but it was limited. When you're working in a declining and dying industry with no hope of ever going anywhere, your motivation tends to dip a little, and it's not long before you find yourself counting out the hours.
Anyway, in January, the round-robin letter of a different kind came around. We were all going to be kicked out, or words to that effect. It's the shock the first time it happens; it's annoying, but wearily inevitable, the second. At the same time, I had a personal triumph: I was taken on by the New Statesman to write a couple of blogposts a week. And I've been doing that ever since.So just as one career headed towards oblivion, another began.
I've really enjoyed working at NS ever since and I think the blogposts there have been a bit more thoughtful, a bit more reasoned and a bit more enjoyable than the ones I did here. Which isn't to say that sometimes they haven't been more tedious or woolly, because perhaps they have - but it's hard to find your voice and have the confidence to write what you really want to write. I think I'm getting there and I appreciate all the kind words and feedback that I've had.
While I wrote about media stuff over at my other blog, I've concentrated here on more personal stuff - particularly with unemployment, which has had a terrible effect on me. It really is the most awful, glum, impotent feeling in the world. I've been extraordinarily lucky in that I have been given a lot of freelance work to help tide things over, thanks to the very kind efforts of people who have trusted in me and my abilities, but not having a job to go to was truly horrible. I felt like I was disintegrating and that soon I would stop being a person altogether. Read back through the unemployment posts I wrote on this blog and they're pretty grim stuff.
Still. I'm out of the other side of that now, for the time being. I have lost all sense of entitlement, such that I had any in the first place. No-one deserves a job; you have to go out there and fight for it, especially the way things are at the moment in this country. I feel for the kids who are leaving school now - they've got it far worse than people my age, and they don't even have the experience of a time when things were better. It must seem so much bleaker for them, and it's hard to convince them that it won't be, I think. No wonder they're pissed off: you would be too.
I'm looking to try and develop a new career, away from writing, and we'll see how that goes. At the moment, I am waiting for the results of an interview to see if I can get a university place next September. I hope I get it, and I've done everything I can to get it. If I don't, I'll never give up. I don't want to say too much; we'll just have to wait.
I've had a job again since November, when I've been selling books. It's been fun and I've really enjoyed it - the people I've worked with are all good folk, and the customers are very pleasant too. It's hard work, but it's nice to feel like I'm working again. And from January, I've got a more permanent thing going on, somewhere else. I don't want to say too much about it, as I feel like it's something I will never write a blog about; my writing and my work will be separate, and that's the way it has to be. But writing will continue.
So that's that. I'm sorry that this blog isn't what it was, but then things change, and people change too. I will try and bring back some elements of what made this blog popular, while still writing for NS at the same time. It's not easy, but I'll give it a go in the new year. We'll see how much time I have away from work to do that.
And finally, while everything else has changed, there have been many constants. The constants in life are what keep you anchored; they are the things that stop you drifting off into despair or misery, even when the temptation to do so is strong. As a person who has had depression, and who continues to have it, albeit medicated and more controlled than it was once, you have to keep hold of the constants, and cherish them. But they are more than constants: they are people, other human beings, who care for you, despite all your failures and faults, people who love you, even when you let them down. When everything else - work, ambition, careers, everything else - is taken away, all you have is the people you love, and the people who love you. I am extremely lucky in that I have more than my fair share of those.
Anyway, that's all. Merry Christmas, and all of that. Thanks for reading; I appreciate everyone who has, and who does.