Day 1

I passed by, looked in, decided not today. The Job Centre was busy, I was wet and getting even wetter since it was still pouring down with rain. I was also in a black mood made worse by the arrival of my twice yearly statement from the publishers. It was a bad day for it to arrive, as though some great force was determined to end this grim charade.

I didn’t expect any surprises from the statement, though I’d actually sold more copies of my book than I’d expected. Not enough to make a difference but enough for people close to me to choose this moment to remind me of dark truths.

‘Makes you wonder why you bother,’ was a hint of what was to come.

‘Makes you wonder if it’s worth it,’ was the second push of the very sharp blade.

Each successive jab gets closer to the heart of the matter.

‘It’s like expecting to win the lottery,’ was the first hint of the true theme of these conversations.

We all want to make money from what we love to do but it’s the job of relatives to inform you that you should make money at the expense of what you love to do. It’s a great leveler, a way of saying that all you’ve achieved amounts to naught. When people throw these accusations around, I can never decide if it’s a kind of clear-eyed honesty or a twisted delight in exposing raw nerves and inflicting pain. And the pain is real and very deep.

The bitch awful truth is that it is difficult to make money from creative labours. I’d already sketched out this argument earlier today in a post I’d originally labelled ‘Sunlight’ because I was feeling brighter and better. The arrival of the post and my relative’s badgering turned that around and made a good day very bad.

However, I have made strides following Leg-Iron’s advice. I’ve written about an IT Web Administrator position. Chances of my landing it are slim but we’ll see. There’s also something else I’d spotted on Gumtree. I was intending to send a CV until I just realised it was three months unpaid work as a web designer. Yes, that’s right. Unpaid but with the chance of a job after that… I might be a fool but I wasn’t born yesterday. A shame it wasn’t even a little bit of money. The irony is that I live the most frugal life I can possibly lead in order to do what I do. I’m not looking for a fortune. Just enough to live on. That I can’t even make that is probably a terrible indictment of my talent or my ability to promote myself or possibly a mixture of the two.

There’s a Ralph Steadman documentary due in cinema sat some point this year and I was watching an interview with the great man on Youtube where he said that all his books have eventually been remaindered. That’s sobering in the sense that if there’s no market for Steadman’s work, then there can’t be such a market for anybody’s work. It’s another facet to the internet culture where jokes, cartoons, and funny graphics have become a currency without value. Everybody trades them but nobody ever seems to pay.

Take for instance, the last strip I drew. I spent five or six hours working on Sparks Episode 4 which I now see posted on a number of accounts across Tumblr. Now what is that cartoon worth? The minimum wage is £6.19 so you might say that strip is worth at least £30.95 for five hours work. Hell, I think I’d be delighted to have earned that much. As it is, I earn nothing whilst the owners of Tumblr wrap their advertising around my content.

This is the problem for all creative people working these days. We work for nothing hoping that somebody somewhere will spot out work and say ‘I want to pay for that’. Yet it rarely happens.

So, that’s where I am now. Deeply funked and not sure what to do other than send off my CV to anything that looks promising. To add insult to injury, web traffic has completely dried up. This is possibly going to be the slowest day I’ve known in months. That divine force is trying desperately hard to send me a message and, unfortunately, I am listening.

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About TheSpine

Writer, cartoonist, blogger, fool. I've written blogs for years including 'The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society', but 'The Spine' is my oldest blog and the one that contains the most of 'me'.
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16 Responses to Day 1

  1. Barman says:

    I closed my business and effectively made myself redundant…

    I decided that it was my right so sign on so I headed down there… as I mentioned before, it was ghastly – everybody seemed to know each other (except me of course) and the interviewer treated me like filth… perhaps wearing a jacket/tie instead of looking like I had just fallen out of bed like everybody else wasn’t a good idea…

    Anyway, we didn’t get very far and I left never to return…

    I think the problem in the current climate is that by the time you spot an opening and send your CV a millionteen other people have done the same thing…. I’m not sure what the solution is tho… I got my first job by contacting a company directly and offering myself and handful of O levels for a pittance…

    • TheSpine says:

      I’ve been looking for work for a month or so but July 1st was always the day I intended to put real effort into submitting CVs. I don’t intend to close my ‘business’ as much as generate revenue from elsewhere. It’s a horrible murky business, selling yourself. The reality is that we all shit, fart, and scratch our arseholes but in the world of corporate speak we have to show ‘pixel-perfect execution’ as it says in one job ad I’ve just read. I hate corporate speak and I feel anxious and pissed off just having to read some of this stuff.

      Can you even send CVs to companies or is that something else that everybody is doing? Seems pretty pointless given my skill set is so strange and varied.

      • Barman says:

        “Can you even send CVs to companies or is that something else that everybody is doing? Seems pretty pointless given my skill set is so strange and varied.”

        I think it is worth a shot…

        It shows initiative if nothing else… and you can prolly target yourself better than waiting for an opening to come up… And you can do it all by e-mail now can’t you – don’t even have to pay for a stamp…

        You can PDF your CV and link to this place – they’ll either love it or hate it (like Marmite) but it won’t have cost you anything…

        • TheSpine says:

          Makes sense if I can find companies who might need somebody like me.

          That’s my problem. The things I’ve done aren’t things that I think lend themselves to many jobs around here. I’m looking at Manchester and Liverpool but writing comedy, editing books, running websites and drawing weird and some might say unfunny cartoons don’t strike me as skills useful to, say, a company that recycles aluminium.

          However, I’m taking all this good advice on board and will work with it. I’ll do a trawl through the phone book and see what kinds of companies are really close to me. As Leg-iron said, if I can find something really close, then it would be less tiring and more profitable. The idea of becoming a commuter again fills me with loathing.

          • Barman says:

            How ’bout advertising agencies…?

            You have a wide range of skills that could be useful to them and their clients…

            I got an agency to produce a cartoon strip once… it was to demonstrate the features of a rugged portable computer of all things and a humorous approach seemed unusual and ideal…

            You could also work from home most of the time and even ‘sub-let’ yourself out to a number of agencies…

          • TheSpine says:

            Advertising has always been one of the areas I’d genuinely be interested in working, simply from the point of view of being able to be creative and humourous.

            Hmm… I’ll see if I can find any locally and send my CV in. You never know. They might spot something they like.

  2. Barman says:

    PS… as I’m one of your regulars can I have my own avatart…?

    • TheSpine says:

      LOL. You’re reading my mind now. I was literally just looking for a way to pre-register you so your comments appear immediately. I was thinking of creating an account. Give me a sec. I’ll email you with it when I work out how to set one up. ;)

      BTW: If you create an account at Gravatar ( and use the email address you use with your comments, once you’ve upload your own image that image will appear on all websites where you leave a comment under your email address. I’m running WordPress so Gravatar images automatically appear if you have one.

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