Gambling’s for losers.

Not the sort of gambling you do with a few friends, a couple of bottles of whisky and a deck of cards, that’s good gambling. Of course it is. But loser-gambling. That shit’s for losers.

The kind of gambling that involves dressing in a velveteen track suit and hauling your enormous arse onto a tiny stool to pump your hopes and dreams into a machine that may as well just be cackling at you, whilst dispensing actual turds into your grateful cup. The kind of gambling that means it’s impossible to buy a paper on a Saturday because of all the broken lives queueing in the newsagents, hoping for a win this week to wash away all of their bad decisions, all of the things that haven’t turned out the way they want them to, all of the failed relationships. That’s loser-gambling.

When the odds are 14-million to one against you winning? That’s loser-gambling.

It’s the kind of gambling you keep doing because you’re not losing a little. You’re almost-winning a lot. It’s the reason you get money for getting five numbers right instead of six, that the slots line up so tantalisingly close to three cherries. You didn’t just lose, you almost won. You were so close. You almost won. You’re not losing, you’re almost winning! You should try again…

And back they go, time after time: never learning anything, never stopping to think about how much time and money they are investing in something that has not happened, and that probably never will. Losers.

I don’t play the Lottery. That’s why I felt so smug when I won.

It wasn’t a huge amount, and it was to be paid in kind – I was awarded £55 for script reading services from ScreenSouth – but it was enough. I’d got some Lottery money (or its notional equivalent) without even buying a ticket. Technically, I’m a good cause. And a winner.

If I’m honest, I’ve had a few setbacks in the last year. I haven’t blogged about them because the relentlessly upbeat nature of writing blogs tends to single out anyone not gladly taking the punches and bouncing back up again as a freak, loser, and weirdo who doesn’t understand how lucky they are.

Writers’ blogs are, at least in part, an advert for how easy and fun they are to work with. They are filled with tales of the latest commission, how grinding down and doing the work and ignoring the bad stuff will get you through. It’s inspiring and helpful and good advice. However, it doesn’t make it the easiest forum to admit your failures in.

Since last May, a number of projects I have been commissioned to write has been pulled before they were finished. These range from web series to corporate writing to even some promotional work that involved dressing as a gangster in various Travelodges around the country. Month after month, project after project has fallen through at the last minute, or when work was well underway.

Add to this the pitches I didn’t get, the ideas I got asked to submit that just weren’t what people were looking for, the auditions I didn’t do too well in…

When some regular writing I was doing was abruptly cancelled at the end of June, I really felt as if it were probably time to give up. I’ve got two young children, who absurdly insist on having food every single day. I wondered about how selfish I was being in pursuing  a career that was so unpredictable, and so dependent on the whims of others. I wondered how often and how massively I would have to fail before I took the hint.

I sullenly pondered jobs sites online, and railed against a world where getting a few things on telly doesn’t automatically make you ‘a writer’. Or, at least, doesn’t keep you there for very long. I spent a couple of days just gnawing at the bits of my face I could reach with my bottom teeth and snarling at people who came near.

And then I won the Lottery. At least, it felt like a win.

Over the next couple of weeks, buoyed by the knowledge that someone, somewhere still thought my stuff was good enough to, at least, read, I took a deep breath and got on with what had to be done. I hustled.

I phoned production companies, sent shameless emails, pressed scripts upon people, and generally made a nuisance of myself. And it worked. And no matter how maudlin I was, how self-pitying I was, and how close to despair, all it took was a few good meetings to make it feel like the most wonderful job in the world again.

I got a couple of new commissions, was cast in some new things, had some good reviews and coverage and did a terrible corporate gig. Things were looking up. That little win was all it took to get me going again.

And that’s when I had a revelation. All of that time when things were falling through: I wasn’t failing, I was almost succeeding!

Not like those stupid loser-gamblers.

Ha. Losers. I pity them. I really do…

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