It wasn’t so long ago (five months to be exact) when I was living a comfortable life with a comfortable salary. My income was such that I didn’t have to think twice about buying things like food and electricity. Most people would call these the good old days. I, on the other hand, am quite happy to see these days in my rear-view mirror. Gone is the complacency that comes with stability! I for one love the thrill of walking into Tesco so I can play the ‘what can I buy for dinner with the last two pounds in my bank account’ game.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are days when I do remember my full-time remuneration with a sense of acute longing because I do live in London. There is a LOT of stuff to do/see/buy here. There is a lot of EXPENSIVE stuff to do/see/buy here. But when you stop buying stuff because you have to, you do realise just how much you don’t really need. Sure, I still walk down Oxford Street and wish I could buy an item of clothing from somewhere other than Primark or H&M, but on the whole, I’m happily surprised by how little I long for stuff.
Food, again, I can cut down on with ease. When you can buy ready-made meals for little over three pounds, you begin to wonder why anyone ever cooks.
Travel has probably been my biggest financial sacrifice since becoming an unemployed, broke writer. Before I moved to London, I travelled quite frequently and with an eagerness that obviously hasn’t dissipated since I arrived in the city that has Europe on its doorstep. But Europe isn’t going anywhere and I know it will be waiting for me when my first published book is a bestseller and I’m able to travel first class as the universe intended.
Let’s skip over the amount of money I spend on drinking in London. Ahem.
I use libraries as my location of choice for my writing and, thankfully, you can spend hours in them without spending a single penny. But as a person who spends their days trying to be creative, inspiration is just as important to my everyday as is lunch and dinner. Writing can be isolating and quiet and if you’re not careful, you can tumble down a dark vortex of misery if you don’t stick your head out of the library every once and awhile to remind yourself of the world outside.
And this is where, for those who are skint like me, London is so very rewarding. Free.Art.
Once I’m done writing for the day, whether that’s after 1000 words or five words, I’ll pick an art gallery or museum and head off for a few hours of free inspiration. One such afternoon I found myself spending time with various British dignitaries, and the Tudors in the National Portrait Gallery, reading about Henry’s wives and children and those whom he favoured and those whom he did not (mind yer head!).
|YOU get a portrait, and YOU get a portrait!|
Another afternoon was spent amongst the latest bewildering collection at the Saatchi Gallery, where I left deciding that I really hadn’t liked any of the pieces but was nevertheless glad that I had been exposed to them.
|Always challenging, always worth a visit|
And of course there’s the V&A. One of my favourite places in London. A place where you can get utterly transported studying a giant piece of tapestry or inspired by overhearing a young boy asking his teacher if he, too, could ask his parents for a purple sequin dress after visiting the V&A’s theatre costume collection.
|Don't tell the others, but you're my favourite...|
London may have asked me to sacrifice a lot from my previous, comfortable life, but what it has given me in return is inspiration on every corner. Free inspiration to help me become the most creative, the most inspired writer I can be.
I just have to not exit through the gift shop.