Back in my past (the 1st time I attempted life as a writer in my early 20’s, a few years before I ran out of money to buy bread) I worked as a writer.
- I wrote for performance (having graduated from a Performing Arts Degree),
- I worked as (a mostly unpaid) performance poet
- I already had a decades worth of YOUNG WRITER publishing credentials from the age of 15, in print form (as the internet and e-publishing were still things of the future…) Well the internet existed (I’m not that old!) but people wouldn’t catch on and start using it personally in the way we do nowadays for some time.
- I spent my spare time training the writer in me and attended a fabulous creative writing course in Leicester, in a place I now believe is Creative Writing college.
This is where I met real writers who all told me I had what it takes and to keep going! (1998)
(This is the point I should had started sofa hopping or squatting (soon to be made illegal at the time) as gone were the days artists could sign on in between jobs) the money I achieved through royalties and the odd gig wouldn’t cover rent and before long I took a serious last look at my dream and started moving towards being financially independent!
This is the point I ran out of food money. The irony was writing press releases and doing some free PR for other performers (who were big at the time and now are MUCH bigger!) was my last freelance gig before I jacked it in and drowned my sorrows in applying for a 2nd degree in an area that would PAY the other end of university with a job.
In the meantime I spent some of my free time volunteering in schools and working as a Workshop Poet in schools with Key Stage 2. It was here that I decided training in Nursery Education was costly and would take time, I could be a teacher, earn more and have fun like this (workshops) everyday! (DELUDED!)
The rest is history and although I have done lots besides teaching (including running a fabulous community website that was no. 1 in the rankings for most of the time it existed, a site this blog is named after) the rest has mainly being steps away from where I truly want to be.
My true self, the writer, the poet.
I stepped back into myself in January 2013 and started making a go at realising my dreams before it is too late and all my hair turns grey!
(Not that that is too late, if you are reading this with a head full of grey hair, GO FOR IT!) It is never too late apparently.
So with heart on my sleeve and dreams in a backpack I set off along the yellow brick road determined to make this work – inspired by London Olympics I hatched a vague 16 year plan – and jumped!
Many successful (and it has to be said also stupid) people have taken RISKS – you have to be in it to win it and all that… my career hung on 60- 80 hour weeks, 50 weeks a year. I couldn’t write around that, there was barely time to sleep as it was. I actually pushed too hard for too long and my struggle became illness in 2012. It was from this dark place that I had time to listen to myself and start taking leaps of faith (on the medication I really wasn’t thinking about negative consequences) I was jumping because I had no choice – there was no longer a bridge there. The sign said NO OTHER WAY —->
Work went part-time towards the end of 2012. Although I didn’t realise it at the time this allowed me a step towards doing what I now do, my income already slashed by 50% and here I am still, and I can afford bread! By the end of the summer 2013 I decided to drop off the career ladder (I had become stuck anyway as I am scared of heights! I would be great on top of a ladder but you will never get me up there to prove it to you!) I jumped off. I know writing pays peanuts and poetry not even nuts, kernels if you’re lucky! So I needed a financial plan and this is where flexibility in my career (which was a factor for qualifying for teaching to begin with!) came into play. I signed with 2 agencies. 1 of which not only gives me plenty of work, but also (within 7days of signing up) found me a regular cover job, 1 day a week and just before Christmas I signed for another school too, so I now have 2 days a week confirmed and the rest of the week I am either the writer or the teacher depending on my last minute bookings. It is great because I have 100% flexibility 3 days a week and generally manage to be involved in all sorts of things in the writing world that I simply used to miss because I was at work.
The extra salary loss means I can’t just go around buying 3 pairs of shoes at a time anymore, but my wardrobe and shoe racks were bulging anyway. And actually I don’t miss shopping (well okay, I do, just a little bit) now I write and perform again after 15 years away and that makes me happier than any heel or skirt ever did!
WHAT’S THE BIG NEWS????
By September I had been published again and decided that Poetry IS my thing. It has claimed me. I can write across genres but poetry is where my writing heart is. I haven’t looked back since. (As you know from all my posts about Open Mic night’s which started back in October with Julie Boden.) In September I also spoke to Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands about the possibility of paid work as a writer. Having already taken classes they ran and gone to a few events I wondered if I could be involved somehow. To be honest I was thinking in a few years once I have up to date writing credentials. Jonathan’s response was, why wait? What about now? How about working with some of our young writers?
I knew my teaching career wasn’t a complete waste of time 😉
In November it was confirmed that I could work as an Assistant Writer (with the View of becoming a Lead Writer in the future) on what used to be called Writing Squads but are now called By the end of the year I wasn’t sure this opportunity had been confirmed as I had to go through an official application, systems had changed and I worried that this opportunity was about to fall out of my grasp.
WRITING JOB (2013) REALITY (2014)