This is a bit of an experiment. I’ve got mild tennis elbow and I’m trying to give my arm a rest, so I’m dictating via the voice recognition software that I’ve used over the last few years when writing books.
The difference is that there I simply use it as an alternative way of getting my handwritten first draft into electronic form, whereas here I’m speaking aloud as I think. It seems awkward. I find myself pausing lengthily as I figure what I want to say. And I can’t see it once I’ve said it, because I’m not looking at the screen but – in classic dictator pose – leaning back in my chair and staring out of the window. It feels like a different, almost alien process.
Perhaps just as well that it’s been a quiet week. I’m waiting for a number of projects to come through and I’ve used the time to revisit my website. I do it periodically and it always involves a kind of stocktaking, not only of my business life, but my personal life too. I find it increasingly hard to differentiate between them, and I’m not sure that it’s helpful to try.
This is what I’m looking at. I’m 63 and I have no pension so I’m going to have to keep working for the foreseeable future. By some standards it’s improvident not to have put money aside as I’ve been going along. But I’ve raised four children as a freelance, two of whom have done short stints in private education, and the youngest, Jake, is now a few months short of graduation. So by a different measure I haven’t done too badly, and it’s not surprising that the Jauncey coffers aren’t overflowing with savings.
Given that I’m going to have to work another dozen years or so, I’m lucky that I enjoy what I do. But I also feel pressure to make sure I use what remains of my working life as productively and fulfillingly as I possibly can. Because I do a number of different things, I’ve always found it slightly difficult to describe myself; and re-visiting the website, or as my Dark Angels colleague Stuart Delves so neatly put it, ‘re-calibrating the brand’, highlights the question: where should I focus my energy?
Most of what I do is interconnected. I write books (when I have time), which links to language and storytelling, the two areas of expertise I employ in the business world. I play music, and that links back to what I hear in the rhythm and cadences of the voices, literal and metaphorical, with which I work. I enjoy performing which also crosses the boundaries between music and books, business and teaching, but I’m not particularly good at extemporising – I need a framework, a good solid structure, behind me before I feel confident enough to go off on a riff.
I love the connecting power of language and stories and music, and nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing other people experience that power for themselves. It makes me feel quite messianic. I want people to understand that the imagination offers the route to stronger and deeper connections with absolutely everything. So I want to help enrich others’ lives.
And I want to keep enriching my own. Although I’m not religious, I’m tempted by alternative views of the world, by the possibility of those things whose existence science can neither prove nor disprove. It simply makes the world a more interesting, a more exciting place, to believe that there might, for example, be ghosts or extraterrestrials than to deny their possibility. I’ve always felt slightly sorry for the super-rationalist, the hardened sceptic.
And there, gentle readers, my ramblings for this week must end (I’ve noticed a direct correlation between how early I post on Friday and how many of you get round to reading the blog). I haven’t answered my own question but maybe, if nothing else, I’ve demonstrated that writing tends to result in a more coherent post than dictating!