For a few weeks now I’ve had an intruder bouncing around in my head. Like an unwelcome visitor, it wouldn’t leave.
So today, I’ve decided to firmly push it out of the door.
I’m fortunate that after twenty five years in the workplace, I can now work from home. Sometimes I have to work away from home, in bursts of three, four, five days, sometimes but not often, a week or more. Call it a perk of being the boss. Call it foolish, running a business from three hundred miles away. Call it what you will, but it works for me, the family and so far, the business and everyone connected with it.
Like most people who want, who need to, write, I go through phases of self-doubt. It's recurring and I'm sure many people who write will agree. Is it worth it? Where will it lead? Am I wasting my time? Nothing new in that. I read an author’s comment recently and she said that people should realise writing is mainly a hobby and should stay a hobby. To try to make it more is wrong and foolish. So how do you know if you should just keep it as a hobby? How do you know if have anything worth publishing? How do you know if it’s worth continuing with that novel? Should I just do it as a hobby? Is that all I’m really doing?
I look at people who have made it. I listen to radio programmes. I read articles. I read autobiographical pieces on them. Many have a background somewhere in publishing/journalism or have family who have been in the business or they have parents who are successful writers. They have connections, knowledge of where to send things, the right people to approach, an insight into how it works. To say they haven’t had the influence, as they often do, is wrong. They might not have had a leg up and they might have done it all anonymously, but just like my ‘condition’ – it’s in the genes. It’s inherent. That’s a great advantage whether they admit it or not. What about the rest of us? What hope for a working class girl who had to leave school at 17 unable to finish A levels due to family circumstances? I’m not that clever, I haven’t a PHD, I don’t come from a literary home; I’m nothing special at all.
Then there is my lack of self-confidence and self-belief. A strict father. An abusive boyfriend. A punishing career. Does nothing for the self-esteem. Or does it? Worthy of a thesis, that debate.
I have a supportive husband and family but like all families, tensions arise from time to time. The husband and kids complain that I have my head stuck into a computer every time they want me, that I’ve always got a work-in-progress on the go, that I turn everything into a plot and I use them with ease in a story. Sometimes they are resentful but I remind them of the times when I worked shifts, had a heavy caseload and the kids had to go to breakfast club, after-school and holiday club. Not no more.
Family spats I can deal with but when it comes on top of other stresses, like it did a few weeks ago, I stop. Pause. Think.
I went away to work for a few days and tried to discuss it with a good friend. I had an idea of changing my life, leaving the business to run without me by giving others more responsibility. I’d go and get a job. A proper job. In the real world.
She said, yes, I should. It’s no good sitting at the computer all day, not getting dressed, not meeting people, being stuck inside on my own, surrounded by a cluttered, dusty house. It would be good for my soul. She said. It would improve me. She said.
I protested a little and said, ‘But I want to write.’
She raised her eyes and gave me a sympathetic smile. ‘But you’ve been doing that for two years now. Time to get real. Writing doesn’t pay the bills. It’s pie in the sky.’ I knew she thought it was my little fantasy. I wasn’t a writer, just a wannabe. A wannabe amongst thousands of other wannabes.
So I applied for a job. It was a well-paid position and I fulfilled all the desirable and essential criteria. It meant working up and down and around Scotland, lots of travel, lots of responsibility. My friend was eager for me to apply. ‘It’ll be good for you, get you out of the house, improve your self-image, getting dressed up everyday.’
I was shortlisted.
I had an interview.
I didn’t get the job.
The feedback was good, they liked me, but the person they had selected had a bit more experience in a particular area.
I cried. With relief.
I hadn’t wanted the job. I’d bowed to pressure and felt that I should. I wasn’t doing it for me. I was doing what other people thought I should.
When we moved to Scotland in 2008, it was with the idea that I remain involved in our business, travel back from time to time, finish off my degree and write. We’ve been here two years now. I travel back from time to time to do my business stuff. I work from home doing various emails, letters, memos rotas, applications, etc. In the past two years I have completed five Open University courses. In October I sit my final exam and I will have my degree, BA(hons).
This year, 2010, I decided to concentrate more on my writing and since January I have sixteen new pieces published. I have won five competitions, and been placed or shortlisted in more. I have been interviewed for Twisted Tongue magazine about my writing and it will soon be published. I have joined twitter and have access to many readers, writers, bona-fide authors, publishers, agents – all people I would never have contact with or access to in everyday life. I converse with many people daily from my little study/office/music room. I am raising my profile. I am writing. I love it. This is what I came here to do. Hobby or not.
So that worm that wheedled its way into my head, gnawing at me to give it all up, has this morning been fed to the birds.
Until the next time...