Today I’m celebrating being unemployable. Yay!
What’s so good about that, I hear you ask? Don’t you need to earn a living? Well, yes, of course I do. But it’s not going to be in a clock-watching nine-to-five job.
As an author, every now and then I become a little insecure about depending on my creativity to make a living, and manage to convince myself I need a ‘proper’ job – a steady income I know will be paid into my bank account at the end of the month. I find my ‘muse’ can suffer if there’s too much financial pressure put upon her, and I sometimes feel isolated, just working at home on my own the whole time.
So, when this mood strikes, I apply for jobs. However, a recent humiliating interview with a team I used to work for, proved to be the impetus for a complete change. The interview was for a lower-paid, lower-prestige role than the one I’d had previously, but my former team were ready to welcome me back with open arms. They needed people urgently, and were really pleased to hear from me. They also knew – because they’d seen me in action before – that I’d easily be able to fulfil the role. However, half an hour after I left the interview – HALF AN HOUR! – I received a phone call to say I’d been unsuccessful. My not wanting the job – the fact that I had convinced myself to go for it against my will – had shown through in every stilted answer, every fumbled response about how I would respond in various scenarios.
My heart – in the form of my subconscious – knew better than me, and wasn’t going to succumb quietly, despite my best efforts to gag it.
Clearly, a major life rethink was required.
So I took a long look at my skills, my passions and my experience. I also considered the core themes of my novels. Almost invariably, they’re about the pursuit of self-confidence, usually by women. My female characters become stronger as they face challenges. They may be in a contemporary fiction novel, a historical novel, a romance or a thriller, but that quest for self-confidence is what interests me.
Ping, an idea was born. As an experienced author and adult education tutor, I’ve taught both creative writing and confidence building. Why not put them together in one course? After all, creative writing is well known for being beneficial as a part of therapy. I would call them WriteUP Courses, and they would combine creative writing with confidence-building skills. But would it work? There was only one way to find out – by trying it out. I set about planning the course material and organised a pilot, mainly targeting women who were getting over broken relationships.
One bleak January Saturday, eight women turned up to try it out at No. 8 Thorpe Road, The Business Rooms, my friend’s wonderful new business and training premises in Norwich. It was everything I’d hoped for – I enjoyed the day so much. The women were all lovely, and they produced some excellent work. We did exercises and writing designed to help us get to know each other and to get to know the way we see ourselves. Some exercises were designed to be cathartic, while others were a celebration of optimism and enthusiasm, making us plan for a more positive future. The women really bonded as a group, possibly in part, because they’d had the same motivations for attending. The feedback sheets they completed tell me how much they enjoyed and benefited from the day, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
I’m so excited about this, and it feels so great to have found a way to combine my two great passions – writing and confidence-building. I’ve now set up a full programme of courses, and the evening class starting on 26th February is fully booked. I also have plans to develop E courses. After all, why just stick with my local area? Being an entrepreneur is so exciting; why not go for global domination?
All it takes is faith, energy and enthusiasm. I have an abundance of energy and enthusiasm, and as for faith, whenever that falters, I’m fortunate enough to have a whole array of friends, advisers and role models to keep the fire burning. And it is a fire – a blaze of ideas and plans and dreams.
Not that I’m about to give up writing. With my new novel A Nightingale in Winter coming out this year, I’m gong to be kept very busy. But busy’s fine. Busy’s good. And I’m definitely not going to be clock-watching, except to make sure I don’t get so absorbed in my work I forget about the school run.