I’ve been writing all my life. Granted, not very well, but from a very young age (11) I decided I wanted to write stories – no, books – and be a famous writer. That decision, or maybe it’s an urge, has followed me throughout my life and, while I may not have always had the time or inspiration to write, it’s always been there, lurking in the back of my mind. It’s my one and only ambition.
Of course the writing bit, while not easy by any means, is something I can control to some extent. Getting published is another matter. Rather, getting paid for what I’m doing is another matter. This has been my biggest hurdle while attempting to foster my career as a ‘famous writer’. In all these years I’d say I’ve earned around £300. Not enough to give up the day job.
For most writers, like artists, actors and other artisans, ‘The Day Job’, is what keeps us afloat while we wait for the real opportunity; the exhibition, the script, the book deal to arrive. The problem we have while doing this ‘Day Job’, having taken care of the rest of the day’s business, is fitting in time to write. Or finding the energy for it. Or the headspace. Or the inspiration.
When my son was two, I got the devastating news that he had something called pervasive developmental disorder. That didn’t sound so bad, until I learned that, actually, PDD is another name for autism, and he wouldn’t ever get to lead a ‘normal’ life. Fortunately, he is high functioning, so things could have been a lot worse. It still meant that, as he grew into a teenager, he struggled in mainstream school. Meaning he got sent home a lot. Meaning I had to be there for him when he got sent home. Meaning I couldn’t work.
That had its upside. I now had time to write. I did, too. Finished the book I was working on (Under Verdant Skies), started and finished two other books, Blightspawn, and High Tide in the City, and tried to get an agent interested. When that failed, I self-published all of them (visit my bookshop above for details). That’s progress, right?
Five years on, my son is now a young man about to embark on a college course in September at a wonderful place that offers residential accommodation and amazing education. He has spent the last two years at a fantastic support centre in Long Sutton, where he was transformed from a surly, angry, damaged boy to the bright, cheerful, witty and clever guy he is today. These days, the calls from school are not ones demanding I come and pick him up, but to tell me how brilliant he’s been, how he’s just completed a complicated piece of coursework, how he’s just taken another exam with flying colours. I’m enormously proud of the efforts he’s made to turn his life around, and thankful to the staff of Long Sutton Support Centre for making those changes possible for him.
Because they haven’t just changed his life. They’ve changed mine, too. I can leave the house now without worrying that I might have to curtail whatever I was planning so I could pick him up for some infraction. It means, in short, I can work.
That notion, when the realisation came, brought a furrowed brow with it. If I work, I won’t have as much time to write.
So I did some self-analysis. How much of my day do I actually spend writing, once I’ve seen to all the jobs I do on a daily basis? Not as much as I thought, it turns out. In fact, the biggest part of my writing day is spent between 6 and 7 am, before I get out of bed. In that way, over the course of 6 weeks, I managed to churn out 16,000 words of my latest work in progress. So, even if I work, I can still write. Problem solved.
Or is it?
I’ve been looking for work since February and so far not even an interview. How could someone who stays home all day have any admin skills left after 5 years? Five years of apparently doing nothing. She must be out of touch. That’s what I imagine they’re saying.
So I’ve been thinking, maybe I should retrain. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, right? But I’m not a dog. (I’m saying nothing about the old ;)) And I’m actually pretty smart. I’ve been thinking of going into the writing business as a career. Proof-reader, copy-editor. Something. Freelance. I actually enjoy that stuff. I do it automatically when I’m reading peoples blogs. (Oops, apostrophe needed there – see what I mean?)
Who knows. Maybe I’ll be good at it?