Since I must be realistic and assume that not everyone is as familiar with the work of Douglas Adams as I am, I guess I have to explain what the B Ark is. In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – book 2 of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, two of our heroes Arthur and Ford, through reasons too complicated to explain, find themselves on a giant spaceship full of people in suspended animation. People who were once hairdressers, second-hand car salesmen, PR consultants, insurance salesmen, advertising executives and telephone sanitizers. Oh there are so many telephone sanitizers.
The crew tells Arthur and Ford that their planet, Golgafrincham, was Doomed – so they were told – and they had to build three arks to evacuate in. The A Ark to put all the leaders and thinkers and artists in, the C Ark to put in all the people who “did the actual work, who made things and did things”. And the B Ark, for the rest. And the B Ark was to be sent out first. On a pre-programmed course so it couldn’t turn back. At this point Arthur and Ford try to avoid looking anyone in the eye.
So, what does this have to do with me and writing? Well I have one of those type of day jobs that would instantly get me a spot on the B Ark. There’s nothing wrong with those kind of jobs as such, and I’d never criticise anyone for doing honest work. But in the end I can often get home thinking that nothing I did that day really mattered. So okay, maybe I should stop whining and go get a more satisfying job. But of course now the only job that would really satisfy me is being a writer and I’m doing it! I just have to keep doing the other one too to put food on the table. There are some views I have about how women especially have been lied to about work – but that’s for another post!
Writing makes me feel like I’m sending something out there into the world that matters a bit more than what I do at my day job. It’s not like I think I’d be in the First Class writer’s lounge on the A Ark rubbing shoulders with Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, but at least I feel like I’ve done something to earn a place in the steerage section! I have many reasons to write of course, but one of them is “to get me off the B Ark.” (Which is a fictional spaceship, whose story is primarily for satirical effect, but hey, I’m a writer, I’m allowed to be a bit crazy.)
Thinking about the B Ark also helps me keep things in perspective at work. If I get stressed or riled up about something I just have to remind myself “this is just B Ark shit. It doesn’t matter.”
I won’t spoiler you for where the B Ark ends up and the ultimate fate of the middlemen of Golgafrincham society. But I will tell you that all the smug gits left back on the not-so-doomed-after-all planet were later wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.
What about you? Would you fear ending up on the B Ark? For that matter, who would you like to see put on a B Ark of our own? I’d personally vote for the Z-List celebs infesting the endless reality shows. Someone try to get “Mutant Star Goat” trending on Twitter.