Well yes, in my opinion that was a little bit silly, even if it worked out OK in the end

My friends thought I was mad when I quit my job. My wife was pregnant, and a student at the time, but I needed the change. I needed to start living.

“I’m moving to Spain to write a book,” I announced to my brother.

Chris Whitaker, Guardian 11/12/20

A bit silly if you ask me, but what would I know? If I stop working, my children don’t get fed. And they don’t like that.

On our return to London, my debut novel, Tall Oaks, was plucked from the slush pile and I landed a publishing deal. The book was shortlisted for a Crime Writers’ Association Dagger. … To my amazement, I won.

Phew. That worked out according to plan then. I was worried there for a moment. Geez your friends were stupid.

I know some people who have been bankrupted several times chasing the dream of a big success. If I utter a word of caution, I just don’t understand. You have to risk it for the biscuit. Success comes from failure. Etc. They tell me to read some ghostwritten entrepreneurial “auto” biographies.

Mr Whitaker’s tale is a nice story, and I am glad that it has worked out well so far, despite the scary obsessive tendencies. I reckon that his wife deserves more credit than she is given, and I suspect that she has put up with a bit more than the story lets on. (What did she think about going to Spain? What did she think about waht the friends thought?) Are stories like these supposed to be inspirational? Are they just a slice of life, so we can see that we don’t all tick the same? Or are they in fact a cautionary tale, in that the prize is not worth the journey? Even – do not bother! your competitors chew off their own limbs!

I don’t understand, of course. In our family, when we hear the words “you can do anything you put your mind to!” or “anything is possible if you work hard enough!”, we laugh out loud in a mocking fashion, no doubt braying bits of food all the while. But that’s just showing off that we are eating. Sometimes it is even Spanish food.


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