Arrows In My Back: My Horrible Career

I’m writing a talk for a university appearance later this month.  Part of the brief: “There will be a really mixed audience from kids who know your work, to those who know very little and are curious.  Perhaps spend the first half running through some stuff about you and your career?”

I tend to have something of a horror of talking about my career, because to me it looks like a twenty-odd-year random lurch from pillar to post. I have very little sense of what it looks like from outside, aside from this one thing Bruce said in that documentary about me.  Which I’ve only seen parts of, because the producers were kind enough to send me a cut that didn’t have me in it, only their edits of the interviews they conducted with other people about me.  Watching that cut was a uniquely chilling experience, not unlike being able to hear the eulogies at your own funeral while you’re trapped inside the coffin with nobody able to hear you scratching at the lid.

So I went with that.

Bruce Sterling, one of the original cyberpunk authors, who became a global speaker and commentator, once said that, in this 21st Century, everyone’s career will eventually look like mine.  He also said there’s still time for me to “go down with arrows in (my) back”, so, you know, cheers for that, Bruce.  A reminder that precarity is still a big part of the freelance life even when you’re 49 and you look like you’re 90.

This isn’t going well, is it?


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