Goodbye freedom: it’s been fun.

Well, here it is at last: the final week before I return to the daily grind, the rat race, the spirit-sapping, temper-testing, stress bucket that is paid employment.  And what better way to celebrate this milestone than to throw myself out of the nearest window? Return to work

Sadly, however, the nearest window is right in front of me and a mere seven feet or so from the ground.  And there’s a plant pot just underneath and I’d be bound to end up crushing the miniature daffs.  And they’ve only been out for a week.  It hardly seems fair.

So fie to window jumping! Instead, I thought I’d use this post to look back over what I’ve learned over the last eight months.  Here it is, pop pickers, one last list before I go over the top…

1. I am not my job.  I’ve always suspected as much, but it turns out it’s really true! I don’t need validation through a performance marking. I don’t need to feel like a failure if I haven’t listened to the Today programme. Guess what? Lots of people don’t! Lots of intelligent people! I know some of my colleagues won’t believe this, but honestly, it’s true. I’ve met them!

2. My writing is not a complete dead loss. I’ve finished a book. A whole one. And I’ve got an agent and everything.  And a publisher! Okay, a French one not a British one, but still.  That means I can’t be completely rubbish.  It does mean that, right?

3. How I love praise! I love it. I love  it, I love it, I love it.  It embarrasses me too, and I never really know how to reply – but oh, how it motivates me!  If only someone had told me I was good at my job – unequivocally, mind, without any of the ands or buts – in say, the last five years, I might still care about my career in the civil service.  I only say “might”.

4. It’s not all about me. No matter how “self-directed” I’d like to think I am when writing, if I want my work to see the light of day – at least through the traditional publishing route – the time comes when I have to place the product of my blood, sweat and tears in other people’s hands. I may be closer to being mistress of my own destiny, but I’m not its absolute dictator.

5. That thing about perseverance over talent? Oh yes.  Okay, it’s hard to judge talent, but there’s absolutely no doubt about the other bit. The emotional see saw of the submissions process is like nothing else: from the kind of happiness that makes you wake up with a smile on your face each morning (the editor’s taking it to acquisitions!) to feeling like a deluded, talentless, idiot (they’re not making an offer). There’s only one way to deal with it: cry like a baby, then dry your tears and get on with the rewrite.  Happily, though…

6. There are a lot of lovely people out there. There’s a vibrant, passionate community of writers at all stages in their careers ready to offer guidance and support.  There are bloggers, and writing groups, and book clubs, and insightful people who love to read. And they’re all producing a wealth of content, all that wonderful stuff to learn from, accessible in a few clicks of a mouse.

And that brings me to you.

When I started this blog I did it because I’d heard that it was important for aspiring writers to have a “platform”.  I didn’t realise that it would help me find my voice as a writer, or that I’d come into contact with so many people who were prepared to give their time to read my work, to give me their thoughts, and even to come back and do it more than once.  I didn’t realise how much pleasure and stimulation and kindness I’d find in my own little WordPress family.  It’s been a blast.

I’m going to have to parcel out my time more sparingly in the months ahead, so there’ll be fewer entries here.  But I’m intending to post at least once a month, just to whinge let you know how I’m getting on. And I’ll be spending my evening commute catching up on what my fellow bloggers are up to.

And there’s one thing I’ll be holding onto when I’m standing on that platform on Monday morning.  It’s not rocket science, and it sounds annoyingly like one of those irritating posters they stick up on the walls of gyms with some smug sod climbing a rock face or surfing a massive wave. But still, it’s what I’ve learned.

I’ve walked away once and the world didn’t end.  And I can do it again.


21 thoughts on “Goodbye freedom: it’s been fun.

  1. jackiemallon

    Good on you! Your writing in this post is very dynamic. There, see? Praise. I pay attention.:-)
    I know exactly how you feel, having made the same choices. I have a deep resentment to employment and paying bills and stuff but I’m working on it. It’s a dysfunctional relationship and always will be. I will follow your progress and your return to the trenches, Soldier!

    1. yakinamac Post author

      Thanks Jackie! Think I might have to practise getting up when my husband’s alarm goes off, just to prove to myself I can do it… Spare me a thought on Monday morning!

  2. colemining

    Good luck with the next steps of your journey! I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds. Thank you for sharing the great lessons you have learned along the way- all valuable insights and a strong example to follow.

    1. yakinamac Post author

      Thanks – and the same to you. Best of luck with the search – I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do next!

  3. sueslaght

    What a great post. Love the optimistic tone and spirit. Looking forward to hearing all about your future accomplishments. Delighted the wee daffodils have been spared your jumping on them. 🙂

  4. yakinamac Post author

    Thanks so much Sue. I’ll be counting on your wonderful blog to remind me that there’s a big, beautiful world out there, beyond the office window! Always supposing I get a window…

  5. Miranda Stone

    You’ve accomplished a great deal! I work full time, and my writing often has to take a backseat during the workweek. But I always return to it. You’ll find a decent balance between your job and your writing. Hang in there!

    1. yakinamac Post author

      Thanks Miranda – I hope so. I keep trying to remind myself that I did actually write 80,000 words of my first book whilst working full time. Then that other little voice pipes up and says, “Yes, but it took you over two years…” One thing’s for sure, I’m at the point now where I just want to stop worrying about it, and make the transition!

  6. sandradan1

    Ah, the parcelling out of time. When you work out how to do it, will you let me know? I too started blogging to raise my profile, and now find myself with some firm online friends, book lovers, obsessive writers. Enjoy your new life! SD

  7. yakinamac Post author

    Time’s a funny old thing, isn’t it? What I’m really hoping is that it will mysteriously expand from next week onwards, allowing me to continue doing pretty much everything I’ve been doing for the last eight months, whilst spending 10-12 hours, 5 days a week commuting/at the office. I mean, I do faff around quite a lot at the moment, so I’m sure that will be possible…

  8. ~meredith

    Just remember this when you go back to work: clean bathroom stalls work wonders for minute meditations. You’re a love.

  9. yakinamac Post author

    Thank you Sheryl. I’ll be keeping up with your Grandma and the world around her from my seat on the train – wouldn’t give that up!

  10. Charlotte Hoather

    I hope you had a good first week back 😉
    I have to work all my holidays so that I can concentrate on my studies, this year I’d like to try and make some money out of my music so that I can take a month off to learn some French. But students are expected to perform for the experience and expenses so it’s difficult, I’m not sure how it will work out but I do need some more time so I understand exactly what you are writing about 😉
    Best wishes

  11. yakinamac Post author

    Thanks Charlotte – first day back is actually tomorrow. Just about to have a long, hot bath with a glass of wine in a bid not to spend all night tossing and turning!

    I do hope you manage to get some paying gigs. It seems hard to be expected to perform for the sake of experience when I’m sure there are loads of people – definitely including myself if you came London-wards! – who’d pay for the privilege of hearing you sing. Bonne chance! 🙂

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt

    You have an agent, an editor, and a publisher??!!! Wow, I am so excited for you – a bit jealous, but very excited! You’ve done it, you’ve actually done it!
    Don’t drop me off your list. I want to read your blog whenever you post. And want to hear all about the book. All best to you.
    (Did I miss where you revealed your real name?)

    1. yakinamac Post author

      Hi Shari – no, you didn’t miss my real name (though a friend of mine found this blog by searching for me by name, so there’s bound to be some way of finding me out!). If I ever get the deal that means I can walk away from being a civil servant, I’ll shout it loud and proud!

      And the thing is, whilst I was super excited about getting my agent, I never really celebrated getting the offer from the French publisher because it was in the midst of getting a pile of rejections from the Brits. It always felt like there could be something bigger just around the corner (there’s a moral there – something about birds in hands…) Mind you, it’s six months on and I’ve yet to see the actual contract – so if and when that finally appears, the champers will be coming out!

      The sad truth is, whilst I’m pleased I’m further on than I was, it feels a really long way from having made it. The day I see my book on the shelf of a bookstore – even if it’s in Paris and I can only understand every other sentence! – will be the day I feel like I can really celebrate. Hope it actually happens!

      1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt

        I’m rooting for you, Yakinamac! I really am! I want to read your work – If I can figure out that it’s yours when it’s published! You have to help here!

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