At the beginning of this year I made a single resolution.
It was entirely private; I did not post it on this blog, nor did I promise to keep anyone updated on my progress.
Nevertheless, I have kept it. I resolved to throw away the safety blanket I’d been relying on for years — the source of easy income that came with some programming knowledge, friends at web-design studios, and an internet connection.
Why would I do this? It would surely be an act of masochism. For years I had been spending three out of every twelve months working, in order to spend the remaining nine on the things that mattered most.
But I was tired of it. Tired of the schizophrenia. People around me spoke of maintaining their work-life balance, yet I wanted my work and my life to share their priorities, rather than sitting at polar ends of a spectrum. Web design kept me in the black, sure — but where was the excitement? The meaning? It simply was not there.
And so the things that mattered most remained hobbies. There is a feeling, when money is involved, that something has become more serious. It is obvious why: we are making a tangible acknowledgement of the value of something by supporting its creator, rather than simply saying something nice and moving on.
This existential yearning was non-negotiable. Twelve months later, I can honestly claim to have finally begun to do what I love for a living. I’m a partner in my own tiny little limited ‘company’. I’ve learnt more than I ever wished to about DVD and book production, about e‑commerce software, about spreadsheets and accounting — about the difference between a hobby and a business.
I have forced myself to rely entirely on a storytelling project, because anything short of that would leave the door open, with safe, easy, boring web-development contracts sitting temptingly outside.
There have been plenty of mistakes. Being suckered in by the film industry was one. Janapar lives outside that. Dwelling on destructive criticism was another. I guess all creative people have to go through it.
And despite lots of adventures, I have spent more time at the screen this year than ever before. But it’s part of the process of attempting to build a new way of life. If it wasn’t excruciatingly difficult, the prospect of failure not palpable, I’d be questioning the point of it all.
As when summiting a pass after a six-hour climb on a bicycle, these efforts are now revealing their rewards. Rather than starting 2013 at the foot of a mountain, as I felt I was this time last year, an exciting twelve months lies ahead, and I am a little more confident now of my ability to tackle the ideas and ambitions that I have for it, and make of them a success.
I will be leaving in March for another journey. It will be driven by the evolving priorities that have come out of the last few years’ experiences, rather than an attempt to outdo my former self. It’s exciting, and it’s utterly terrifying. And I will be announcing it first thing in 2013, because this is one resolution that will require a bit of external pressure to keep.
For now, though, it’s time for a break. Two more days of packing envelopes and post-office runs remain…
I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, and thank you all deeply for your support during the last six years of running this blog!
I’m still taking DVD orders until midnight tomorrow, with free UK shipping until then. The voucher code TOMSBIKETRIP will still get you 25% off, and FESTIVEFILM will give you a third off the downloadable version until the end of the year. That’s all at janapar.com — please be quick, as the postage window is closing.