Careful what you wish for, or ‘I like to tell you I’m a Travel Writer but doing it is another matter’

I have just written my first batch of travel articles for my new job.

I applied for this freelance job a month or two ago and I was lucky enough to be given the position. I have to write 8 articles a month. About my favourite subject – La Bella Paese. This seemed simple. I do not go into the office on Mondays so even the most mathematically challenged of us can work out that all I have to do is write 2 articles each Monday and I will meet my quota. Factor into the equation that I can do them in my pyjamas, saving valuable outfit choosing time, not to mention which elements of personal hygiene routines I can skip, and I shouldn’t be far off fitting an easy 3 or 4 pieces into my day.

It hasn’t quite panned out like that.

I am exhausted.

Not so much from the writing of the articles themselves, but from the fact that every single moment that I’m not writing them I am thinking about what to write in them. I also have to read around the areas a lot. Was I lucky enough to be given this job where I get to write about different places for money? Yep. Am I lucky enough to be paid to go and visit these places in person? Don’t be daft. I’m going to give myself a year or two before I start adding Guardian Travel onto the list of people who reject me.

I do not want to do the maths to work out what my hourly rate has been but I know it is far far lower than the minimum wage. Way lower. But do I want to just turn up to a job, endure the time there, then come home? No. I do that for 4 days a week as it is. I want to write. Not that I was saying that much this week. Bleary eyed at the keyboard at 10pm on a Friday night, with nothing but a sloppily put together limoncello-esque cocktail for company, I type an instant message to a pal over the friendwaves and ask why I was doing this. I said over and over again ‘why do I want to write, again, remind me?’ and they told me that I don’t have a choice. That it’s not even a want. It’s just something that I need to do. Not unlike breathing. The thing with breathing though is I can do that in a pub dancing to music at a gig, which is what I had been wanting to be doing. Holding a laptop and a 10 sheets of scribbles in that situation wouldn’t really work. We all look twattish enough when we do it in Starbucks but at least people are used to that now.

My friend is right, of course. Then again they seem to be right about a lot of things at the moment, and they are fast becoming the person that I am choosing to run most of my decisions past. But that’s another post altogether.

So, it’s gone midnight, my first batch is sent, and will be live on the website soon. I have put Elbow’s new EP on and let Guy Garvey’s deliciously melancholic tones massage my tired brain cells, while I pour a more lovingly treated spiritĀ into the correct glass, deep thick sticky damson vodka. I unhunch my shoulders which are far too near my ears for a Saturday night, and slip my shoes off that have been on all day.

I close all my files and write this while I wait for the call from my partner to tell me he is on the way home from his gig, at which point I will get my jacket, slip my shoes back on and walk 10 minutes in the blackness, which will be a welcome emptiness after having 20 webpages open at once all day. I will walk to a fantastic pub across town to meet him for a lock-in where I will ask him how his gig went and he will tell me he is exhausted, and he will ask me how my writing is going, and I will tell him I feel the same.

We will clink our glasses and be smiling ear to ear that we get to be asked those questions and that this is what we do.