Lee Davy ends the year with a look back at what lessons 2014 contained for this particular poker writer.
The fireworks exploded, and the embrace ended – it was time to chill out on the couch in front of Jools’ Annual Hootenanny. New Year’s Eve is a great producer of inspiration, but tonight was special. The performances were something else.
Paolo Nutini commanded the microphone like a young Bruce Springsteen, Paloma Faith’s rendition of River Deep Mountain High had me bobbing up and down like an over eager whore, Ed Sheeran showed the world that you can be ginger and sexy, Hayseed Dixie reminded everyone that conforming to stereotypes is a load of old bollocks and Wilko Johnson handed out a timely reminder that not even terminal cancer can wipe a smile from a face full of gratitude.
When Holland thrust the microphone into the face of the Dr. Feelgood guitarist he could hardly speak. Hand him a guitar, and listen to him sing. He was transformed. Meaning and purpose did that to the man. He figured it out a long time ago. He was placed on this earth to perform. They all were. That’s why I had so many speech bubbles above my head with the words ‘Oh Wow!’ entombed within each one.
So what about me?
Was I put on this earth to write about poker?
Do I come alive with a pen in my hand?
After the Hootenanny had ended all that was left was reflection. What had happened to me in the past 12-months? Meaning and purpose fell behind the leading pack. Instead, I installed ‘earning money’ as a pace setter, and it ran so far ahead nobody could keep up with it.
I earned more money than ever before. But that pursuit of money; the search for security – it robs you of life. It takes away your essence, your creativity, your smile. You quickly fall into line. You do your part in the world. You fit in. I have never wanted to just fit in.
On the plus side I am living proof that you can step away from the line. You should take risks, you should reach for your dreams – there is money out there. I would never have believed that I could leave the railway and double my earnings writing about poker, but that’s what I am close to doing. If you love writing; if you come alive with a pen in your hand, but are being dragged back into normality – then fuck normality. Don’t let that happen. If I can do this then so can you.
I think my writing got better this year, but the amount of work I took on diluted the quality. At times I really struggled to reach my deadlines, and a lot of mediocre work started to creep into my delivery. This happened because of fear. I was scared of losing a contract, scared of being replaced. So I took on more and more. I was full. I was close to bursting point at so many times. It was time to shed the load.
I learned more about balance. I am starting to believe that the search for the right balance in life is a lie. It’s an impossible dream. The first person to climb Mount Everest, and everyone who then followed, didn’t get transported to the summit by aliens. They pushed everything else in their life out of the way, and they focused on one thing. That’s what I am going to be doing in 2015. I am going to climb my own personal mountain. There will be time for that other stuff when I walk back down.
My mountain is my work. My work is helping people to quit drinking alcohol. This has to be my one focus. Then after I have spent my time helping others, I will turn to myself. I will do what I have to do to pay the bills. I will write. I urge you to develop the same priority system. You might be a gas fitter who loves to write. If that’s the case then wake up nice and early and make sure you write before you go to work. Put your dreams before the doldrums of life – before it’s too late.
I have reduced my workload in the past few months and will continue to do so during 2015. I learned another lesson during this phase of my life – don’t be afraid to ask for a raise. You need to develop faith in your ability and put a true price on what you feel your time is worth. Then you need to deliver. Not one of my clients said no when I asked for a pay increase this year.
I also learned that I am nowhere near as good as I thought I was when it comes to writing. I will have my first book in my hands sometime in February. It’s a collection of blog posts from my personal website, and an editor has been fine tuning it for me. Talk about a reality check. This women made me realize that I am just starting my writing journey. No, scratch that. I have just put my walking shoes on and am midway through tying my shoelaces.
Books that have given me inspiration this year are On Writing Well by William Zissner, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett and Revolution by Russell Brand.
If I had to pick one of those books it would be Brand’s. I listened to it, during my morning run, and when I got back I couldn’t wait to write. His use of metaphors lit me up. He made me feel so inferior. He sounded like he had swallowed a Collins English Dictionary, shit out all the uncool words, and shed the rest onto pieces of paper. I sounded like a hodge-podge of old sayings from football commentators.
Later on, when you are flicking pieces of dead meat onto the glass of your bathroom cabinet, take a long hard look at yourself. Do you have a dream? Do you have meaning? Do you have a life purpose? If you do then what happened to it? If you don’t, then where is it?
Once you have found it, remember this. If you ever find yourself spending your time working on something that’s not aligned with that life purpose, then somewhere along the way you have strayed from the path. Don’t stray from the path. Ever. The last time I saw a young man do that he was eaten by a werewolf. I mean, fuck that. That’ll hurt like a motherfucker.