Why Building Castles in the Air isn’t Wrong but Why trying to Collect the Rent Is.


Why Building Castles in the Air isn’t Wrong but Why trying to Collect the Rent Is.


The last few days have been a bit weird. One of my decisions this year was to find a new job, something that replaces unreliable hours and last minute assignments with something a little more predictable and better paid. I enjoy what I do, but I don’t enjoy not being able to plan time off or make financial decisions. So I signed up with a recruitment agency in the hopes of finding something that met my unusual set of skills and experience.

On Monday I applied for something quite interesting, more as a kind of, “Well, why not, you never know!” and to be honest, expected nothing to come of it. But I was offered an interview and was told I was a strong candidate. The interview was today.

Before I get to the outcome, I shall explain the last few days as succinctly as a can. I had some panic about certain aspects of the job, but decided I’d give it a shot and see. Travelling on the train( not to mention lying awake the night before) I’d been mulling over what a job like this would mean. Primarily, it came down to finance. We would be much better off; we could afford with ease things we currently scrimp and save for. I suspect it would mean somewhat longer hours, but then my summer season hours can be stupidly long anyway, and time away from home ~ well, I do up to a week away each month as it is. But it was the money that it all came back to. We could buy a new conservatory; a new kitchen, bathroom and get fitted wardrobes in the bedrooms and all without the usual, “I’m gonna have to sell my third kidney for this!” rigmarole.

I then mulled over what it might mean for my writing. At the moment, even when I am busy with one or other of my jobs, I still write, and usually every day. I can’t not write. But that said, having the mental energy to write fiction, and be creative and exciting with words, well, that may well be something that doesn’t mix so readily with a full time job that involves a lot of travel. I have said it before, but the pool of inner life from which creativity spills out is a finite thing, and using up that inner life solving work problems is possibly a little death to novelists.

I gave some thought to my health and as usual, thought, “Oh I’ll cope.” But that’s what I always do. I got into a mental spiral about whether my doubts were because I might be venturing out of my comfort zone or whether those concerns were valid.

In the end, I returned to the decision to do the interview and if I get it, accept the job. The extra money would be very nice. I was already picturing myself with a nice glass of rosé wine sitting watching the sun go down in my lovely new conservatory when I got a call saying the interview was cancelled.

To cut a long story short, the interview was rescheduled for a time I cannot possibly get to the location and so, all the bricks for my castle in the air are on their way back now to the dream-builder’s merchants and the blueprints are rolled up at the back of my mind, and the project shelved indefinitely. I got back on the next train home and was shocked at how relieved I felt. I did wonder if I’d feel as if I had lost something but I don’t. I hadn’t confused daydreams with any sort of concrete reality; the future I had been picturing had held no real substance for me.

I guess that’s the key to staying grounded when things are moving so fast your head whirls with it: simply remember that castles in the air are fun as long as you don’t plan to collect the rent from them!

18 thoughts on “Why Building Castles in the Air isn’t Wrong but Why trying to Collect the Rent Is.

  1. “I have said it before, but the pool of inner life from which creativity spills out is a finite thing, and using up that inner life solving work problems is possibly a little death to novelists.”

    It was a big death for me and I write poetry. I found, especially as I grew older that I could give my energy to teaching or to writing, not both. I taught as long as I could bear it [that’s when I had my bout with situational depression] and finally retired to focus on writing. I had forgotten how happy it makes me.

    I’m sorry you won’t be able to add to your castle, but glad the finite energy is still safe.


    • I am simply of a mind that I am cared for and that the right job will come along at the right time, one that doesn’t deplete my resources but cherishes them.
      I do get a lot of ideas from both my jobs, but as someone who is highly sensitive(low latent inhibition) I get tired out by over stimulation from things and need a good deal of alone time to be quiet and process. So really, more of what I do now would be fine.
      Nice to hear you here, even now the stones are finished.


  2. Oh how I identified with your story.

    But rather than tell you my version of it, I most want to hone in on your thought of finite creativity. I was thinking just yesterday, while watching a beautiful snowfall, that as much as I enjoy painting and refurbishing houses, it robs me of creativity to write. I feel all used up, with nothing more to give. So whether its a paying job or just another lovely activity, it’s all about making wise choices, isn’t it? Creative soul tending.


  3. Viv, I really enjoyed reading this and empathised with you every step of the way. I was a little confused – did you actually take the train to the interview only to discover it was cancelled en route, or was that a metaphorical train you took back home?! It did feel to me like you would be selling out on something special to you and your life if you took that job. I can’t see you in Sales! (probably not what the job was but what it reminded me of…)


    • I was literally at a station, about to catch the next train when the call came. I very nearly swore!! (in my head I did)
      The job is in education and is not dissimilar to one I did many years ago. I would also be required on occasions to drive a bloody enormous “mobile education centre” which is a sticking point as I am driving phobic…..another reason why I was questioning whether my misgivings came from that issue and not more rationally.
      The dilemna is this: I need a more regular and reliable income than my current jobs give me, not to mention more guaranteed hours etc. This one was about 6x my current pay.
      Oh well, it’s in the lap of the gods now


  4. Oh wow. 6x the pay would be an immense draw. I’ve also been considering applying for other jobs, but I’ve got misgivings about lots of issues surrounding the prospect of changing jobs.

    Good luck in your quest.


    • The trouble with job hunting is that you get shoehorned into the same areas, and I have a very unusual CV anyway. I don’t get paid a lot as it is, so anything is an improvement in that respect but yes, 6x would have been awesome. Probably not worth the stress though.


  5. I like to eat my pie in the sky at a little table near the very top of my castle in the air. You can hear the little banner perched on the top flipping in the wind and the meringue taste like the sweet clouds that drift by the window.

    I don’t think your heart was ever in it.
    Best wishes on job hunting.


  6. I agree – something better is surely coming. I admire you for suiting up, however, Viv – you could always have said “no thank you” if it put too many shivers in your timbers.

    Love Grandaddy’s forthright means of dealing with meringues. And his description. I’ve been searching for that label my whole life! 🙂


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