As a child I was labelled a “day dreamer” spending my free time lost in my own thoughts. I loved anything creative; art, theatre, books, poetry and dreamed of one day becoming either an actress or an author.
As time went on my school life sent me in a different direction. It was the expectation in those days to leave school and get a job which was either factory, shop or office, so I began training to become a secretary. I started work as a copy typist in the typing pool in the City Architect and Planning Office in the centre of my home city. Having a council job back then in the early 80s was a good position to be in as the money was great, conditions and holidays were good, their pension scheme was one of the best and of course, everyone was in the union! In my spare time I attended acting classes, read books, wrote poetry and danced. Life was pretty good.
In time I married and had twin boys, one of whom was born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery at three months. I loved being a mum and especially loved all the attention from having twins. Hard work but worth every minute.
Back to college
When the twins started school I went back to college and got a teaching qualification and starting teaching IT to adults, mainly in the evenings. I had also switched to part-time in my regular daytime office job. I’d stayed 18 years in the same workplace (the role had changed by then) so felt it was time I moved to a different job, although still in an office environment.
By then the workplace as I’d known it had changed forever. The days of a job for life had well and truly disappeared. I started looking at ways of generating a second income as job security and satisfaction was becoming non-existent.
With the support of my husband we began with car boot sales. Every Saturday, one of us would get up at 7am, go and set up the stall and then the other would come along a bit later with the twins. It lasted a while but we were never going to make much money doing that.
Starting a business
Then a family member invited us to look at a business which they said involved laundry. Intrigued my husband and I went to a meeting to see what it was all about and it turned out to be Amway, the multi level networking business. We knew nothing about it prior to the meeting and decided we’d give it a go. My post on multi level networking gives details of the experience and my thoughts on it now.
After that I bought a burger van and we sold burgers for a while but it had its drawbacks; finding a suitable daytime pitch for starters, as the one we’d inherited with the van was outside a pub and most of the customers arrived after closing time… midnight onwards! We did a few motorbike rallies and always made a great profit but they were few and far between.
In between all of these businesses I began writing again and joined a local writing group where I found the support and encouragement to start sending my work out. I began with short stories and one day a cheque came in the post! It was time to celebrate. I had achieved my first goal of getting my work into print and being paid for it. Happy days.
I continued and got more stories accepted before moving onto articles. The local newspaper had just started a supplement and were looking for human interest articles so I sent them some ideas and began writing for them on a freelance basis. I targeted a glossy county magazine with ideas and was accepted and from there I went to national magazines like My Weekly. On my day off I would interview local characters who had a story worth telling and then write up the article.
I had a vague idea lurking somewhere in the back of my head that it would be great if I could earn a full time wage from my writing but my children were still in the middle of their school life and keeping me busy so at this stage in my life I was happy with the set up I’d got.
Make a living from writing
As the twins got older and more independent I started to think more and more about whether or not I could make a decent living from my writing. I felt I probably could and began pushing myself to achieve more. I’d love to be able to say I went on to create a full time salary and was able to leave my job but in fact at this point everything changed.
My marriage broke up, we were divorced and I moved out of the family home into a flat nearby. It was not a bitter break up but nonetheless it was a difficult time. We decided to share the care of the twins, so moving nearby made it easier for them to go from house to flat.
I continued writing and getting articles published and I began pushing myself even harder. I was also doing an Avon round and decided to begin recruiting my own team. I started getting frequent coughs and colds that eventually led to a serious chest infection. That went into pneumonia. I was tired a lot of the time after that, but determined not to give in I continued pushing myself.
Quit the day job
I convinced myself that the only way to make my dream happen was to quit my job so I handed in my notice. I figured that if I did this I would have to make it work. Looking back now, gut instinct was telling me, don’t do it but I didn’t listen to my own intuition. I know now that it wasn’t the right time for me, but I had convinced myself it was the right thing to do. Right up to the moment I quit my job Easter time 2010 I didn’t feel great about it and by the end of that year panic had set in and I started applying for jobs.
That year was, in fact, a disaster of my own making and ultimately very nearly crushed my entire writing dream. I felt such deep feelings of failure and guilt that I dropped anything to do with writing, took down my website, unsubscribed from everything, put away my books on writing and stopped going to the writing group.
I told myself I’d had a go and failed and now it was time to stop wasting my energy and efforts and get a job. It made me sad but I had proved to myself that I wasn’t up to the task so I went out, got a full time job and stopped writing. For the first 12 months it seemed alright. The job I’d got in administration was busy and demanding and paid quite well and it took my mind off my failure and gave me a much needed boost to my confidence. But, like so many jobs these days, job losses and uncertainty eventually became the order of the day.
My writing ambitions were still tucked away in the back of mind. The dream I’d focused on for such a long time refused to go away. As the novelty of the new job began to wear off and the dynamics of the role changed, my dream of becoming a full time writer started to surface once more.
At the point of writing this I’ve started the journey to where I want to be. I know the direction I want to go in and I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to get there. I know it will be hard work but this time I won’t give up.
I am writing every day and now concentrating on fiction. I am more than half way through my first book and have a deadline of the end of August 2016 to get the first draft finished.
I am still pitching and writing articles although there are less opportunities now that so many print magazines have gone under or don’t have a budget for freelancers anymore. But there is still work out there, so if this is an area of interest for you check out my post, Writing Articles for Magazines and Newspapers.
I am currently working three days a week; the rest of the time I write and build my writing business.
I moved out of my flat and into a house earlier this year.
I now have clear goals and deadlines and I have a structured plan to make a full time living from my writing.
More importantly, I now feel good about this journey and I am passionate about making it work.
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