Making a career as a writer: admiration feeding ambition
Ever since I was a small child I have wanted to be a writer.
I used to daydream about being Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl. Sometimes I would want to draw beautiful magical animals as well like Beatrix Potter. Then as I got older my heroes became Stephen King and Virginia Andrews, before being swayed by the poetic philosophies of William Blake and Percy Shelley.
Now I am older again, the dream has not disappeared. By day I am a teacher (of English and media - but I am sure that is no surprise to you). And by night I am a mother and an aspiring author.
In 34 years I have managed to create three nearly complete novels, a bunch of ideas and a relatively popular blog. So when I received the opportunity to work with real, best-selling, award-winning writers I was eager, overwhelmed...excited.
So at a time when a normal teacher is busy preparing lessons, I not only was dealing with some huge personal issues, but also preparing to interview and work with these amazing women.
My first task was to interview Melissa Foster, writer of the new release ‘Come Back To Me’. I dutifully read and reviewed the novel ahead of the interview and I was pleasantly surprised. Melissa is a positive and energetic woman, so I half expected something girlie. But ‘Come Back To Me’ is beautiful, haunting and heart-breaking; it is a powerful read. So Melissa swept me off my feet the way Stacey Solomon did to the whole country when she first appeared on The X Factor.
She was also a fascinating interviewee, telling me that she had made it as a writer after she committed to it 100% regardless of earning potential; she gave herself up to it. I had an epiphany; I realised this is where I am going wrong! I work hours and hours every day meeting responsibilities and trying to be normal - I have very little left to invest into my dream, and it is not likely to become real until I actually credit it with some time and effort.
Equally working with Tonya Kappes made me feel the same. Tonya wrote a blog post for my site and gave away a few copies of her most recent novel, ‘Splitsville.com’. I enjoyed reading this - a much more lighthearted read, as warm as a bathtub. I loved the energy, and I felt pangs of jealousy! Not the bitter kind, please understand, but the I-want-some-of-that-too kind. I still want to be a writer!
But I also realise I only have myself to blame; I would never have expected my career as a teacher to take off without investment. Equally I know that good parenting requires time and energy. Surely then making a dream come true must require at least equal effort?
So why haven’t I been doing it?
I think there are several reasons:
On the Bottom Line I have to keep up with my other responsibilities as a priority as they pay for our home, lifestyle - everything. I am the sole parent too, so it is just me each day running round and keeping up with the chores and activities.
I am scared to jump: what if I am not good enough? What if I risk our security against a pipe dream that I can’t reach?
I don’t truly believe it will happen for me: it happens to Melissa, Tonya, Enid, Stephen, Beatrix...and all the others. But I am just a simple country girl. What makes me deserve it?
I don’t know all of the steps. Teaching was easy: college, uni, PGCE, NQT year. But being a writer has so many variables. How do I make it happen anyway?
But I guess this is the nature of Dreams for everyone. We all have something we desire which we find excuses to avoid trying to make it happen - from marriage to trips to career choices. For some people a career progression might mean moving the whole family - and this is scary. It is easy to hide behind the belief that keeping the situation stable for the children is best - but in reality if the choice is made sensibly with success then stability is maintained. So why avoid it?
I have loved writing my blog; it has been an outlet and something to keep me busy at a time when keeping up with reality has been hard. But now, weeks later, it has afforded me the opportunity to see my reflection clearly. And now I know I am going to have to fight the fear to make it happen.
I am going to have to fight the fear of disbelief and inadequacy. I am going to have to fight the fear that I don’t know what I am doing. And I am going to have to fight the fear that I cannot balance all of the different roles in my life.
But I can do it if I put my mind to it: I have managed to bring up two children single-handedly, I have turned from teenage-tearaway to media professional to teacher. Why not this?
And why not your Dreams too? WHY NOT? If you are anything like me, you are your only obstacle.
So as this year comes to a close, think about where you have always seen yourself and start to consider how you can get there. What can you do to make a start? What is it holding you back? Are they really good enough reasons?
I want to be a writer; this time next year when I take part in The Women’s Literary Cafe Blog Hop I would like to be on the aspiring author/author list. I want to be teaching and writing.
It’s up to me now.