The other day I found myself back in Glasgow. That’s just a turn of phrase, I wasn’t suffering from lost time and suddenly realised I was in the city. I went back for a reason – to record a podcast interview for Scots Whay Hae.
Anyway, I was just around the corner from where I had my first flat as an adult human being so I took a stroll down memory lane.
The flat was in the basement of a Greek Thomson designed building in Queen’s Square, Strathbungo, and I was about 21 years of age when I moved in.
Sometimes looking back is not a good idea. Just ask Lot’s wife.
I was full of bright–eyed enthusiasm then. The world was very much my edible bivalve mollusc. Okay, I was unhappy in work and that continued for decades to come but I had hope. I thought I was going to conquer the world.
The fact is, I didn’t.
I faffed around and I made wrong decisions and often walked the path of least resistance. I generally took the easy way, the least risky way, and convinced myself that it was the only way. Sure, I wasn’t wrong ALL the time. I did eventually wander into journalism and that ultimately led me to writing books. Along the way there were other high points – plays for amateur companies won awards, I co–wrote a radio comedy show broadcast on Radio Clyde, a one act play was performed at Pitclochry.
I met people who remain friends. Good friends. Friends I trust.
However, I did miss opportunities. I didn’t take chances. Shit, as they say, happened. Shit that still stains my life. Bad choices. Bad decisions. People I’ve hurt, disappointed. People I miss.
Now I’m doing what I wanted to do. I’m writing fiction. I should be happy and in many ways I am. I had a book longlisted for the McIlvanney Award last year, for goodness sake.
Financially, writing is about as rewarding as a stick up artist in a credit card company and who knows what old age will bring. In case you’re wondering, that’s due to hit at 2.33pm next Tuesday.
But through the writing I’ve met more people who have become friends. Wonderful, talented, supportive people.
Depression. The black dog. Yup, it pads around now and again. I pat it but try not to feed it. Still it sticks its nose up, testing the air.
That’s what I mean when I say looking back isn’t good for someone like me. It makes me brood. It makes me long for the chance of a do–over. To perhaps take those chances I missed back then. To not make the same mistakes. To go the other way. To zig where previously I zagged.
Life ain’t easy, folks. And my advice to aspiring authors, or anyone really, is that sometimes you have to take leaps of faith. Professionally. Personally.
You might fall.
But, maybe – just maybe – you’ll fly.
Only you can decide if the risk is worth it.