I have a confession to make. Despite the fact that I adore car crash television, pore over the latest exclusive wedding/birth/divorce in gossip magazines and obsess about celebrities and their lavish lifestyles (admittedly mainly fantasizing about my dream of living that life), I can say hand on heart that I've never been a fan of reality television.
I thought Big Brother was boring and even wrote a pompously scathing essay about its negative effects on society in a first year English essay (in hindsight I've realised that it wasn't just the frizzy hair and unibrow that excluded me from my classmates), I think the X-Factor is overrated (how can anyone take a show seriously when it features Louis Walsh and the Curious Case of his steamrollered face?), and the only reason that I invested some serious time in Dancing on Ice 2011 is because the eventual winner Sam Attwater bares more than a striking resemblance to my other half (I even voted for him, I don't know what came over me to be honest).
My point being that I usually choose fantasy over reality. Escapism over normality. Excitement over mundane. I take great pleasure in witnessing things that would realistically never, ever happen in real life (be it in my head or on TV). I would rather watch one of the characters of Coronation Street have passionate sex with their brother's wife, have a punch up in a graveyard and drive into a river, all before 8 o'clock. You wouldn't get that down our local pub in Newbridge (at least I don't think so anyway...).
It all links back to one of my earlier blogs about how much happiness I gain from escaping into my head and choosing to occupy my time daydreaming about things that I know will (more than likely) never happen to me.
One of the main fantasies I have is of being a successful, published writer. I think I spent the last 15 years fantasizing about this (as documented regularly in my previous blog posts) but I've only spent the last 12 months actually attempting to achieve this goal by putting pen to paper and engaging in writing. And the reality, as opposed to the fantasy, is not pleasant.
The 6am alarm clock going off so that I can try and get some writing in before work. Researching brain injuries and cardiac arrests in online medical journals in bed at night, my eyelids doing their best to defy gravity. Jotting down ideas and planning out scenes during my lunchbreak in work, when I'd rather be reading the Mail Online celebrity sidebar (or catching up on casenotes, oops). Using the time my other half spends playing football to write without distraction, when I would rather de-stress in a hot bath with scented candles and a Dairy Milk bar. My favourite thing to do after a long day in work is get into my pyjamas and watch Legally Blonde. But if I'm serious about writing, I can't do this (every week).
There are a lot of things I miss out on when I choose to write and the reality is that it's hard. Some weeks it's very hard. Some weeks it's so hard that I don't do any work because I'd rather have a lie in, a hot bath, an early night or watch a DVD, because I'd rather escape the reality of being a writer for a while. But the truth is that on those nights, or weeks (or months) that I avoid reality, I feel bad. I feel terrible because I know that I should be writing. I should be engaging in the reality of writing the book because, let's face it, this book is never going to get written unless I write it (apologies for the bold font; that was more for my benefit than yours).
It really is a typical case of the end justifying the means. The book has to get written, no matter how hard I find it or no matter how tired or stressed I am. I can make all the excuses I want but the only person I'm really lying to is myself. And the friends, family, colleagues who ask me how my book is going...
At the end of the day I have to accept that the fantasy life of being a writer is much more fun than the reality of an aspiring writer. There are no film premieres, book launches, charity openings, big cheques and public readings of my book. Just dark eye circles, a constantly flashing cursor, lots of empty mugs of tea and a word count that (very gradually) increases over time. And if I can accept that and persevere, hopefully I will some day manage to type the two words that ever fibre of my body aches to write: "The End".
Oh and I just have to avoid the return of X-Factor this weekend. I've survived 10 series of it, surely I can finish this book?