Today I shall be examining the practical, rather than the philosophical, aspects of surviving abject poverty. Please bear in mind that this is written from the perspective of a struggling writer, so not all points will be relevant to everyone; still they may be helpful.
It is important to avail yourself of all possible opportunities to get your work out there, and there are a number of very cheap – or free – outlets for mine. I take advantage of any and all free open mic slots; poetry and prose competitions, magazines etc. I also try to get involved in groups of all kinds, even if my interest in them is only tangential, partly to meet people and partly to develop possible outlets for work. No avenue should ever be closed off unless there are solid reasons for it: and the more people who know what you do and what you are trying to do, the more opportunities can come your way.
I haunt the local library, too: I usually pop in at least twice a week to change books and get abreast of local events. The result of this is that I am running a poetry workshop in the autumn as part of the Everybody’s Reading week, and getting paid for that as well.
Chance encounters can bring opportunities, too – just last weekend when I was half-way up Thorpe Cloud (see post on 24th June) someone suggested I should talk to the council about getting in on the City of Culture if Leicester is awarded that.
So: here, in a nutshell, are my top tips for surviving abject poverty:
– Don’t see everything in terms of money. If you are poor in cash you still have loads to give – so join groups, get involved in stuff and give your time, your talents and your energy.
– Tell everyone what you’re doing (just in the way of conversation – don’t do a sales pitch as no-one likes that). The more people know what you do, the more they can funnel opportunities your way.
– It’s true, to an extent, that it’s not what you know but who you know. So get out there and know people!
– Take advantage of everything that’s free or cheap. A poetry evening usually costs me no more than a couple of quid as I go to free events and buy just one drink.
– Having said that, always buy drinks when you can. It not only oils the wheels of social interaction, it helps you to feel you are participating in society.
– Generosity, though, is not confined to money. Your time, your energy, your ideas and your willingness to listen are in the end more important.
– If you can’t have what you want, try to want what you have. We all have a tendency to overvalue things we want and undervalue what we already have, so turn that around and you’ll feel richer. More importantly, you’ll feel blessed!