Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

For the last eight years I've been working more or less full time but as I mentioned in my last blog, my job finishes at the end of this month.

For a long time now, I feel as though I've been stuck in a rut, but have been unable to change anything because I didn't want to jeopardise a potential redundancy package.

The truth is, I've become comfortable, my life is familiar and on a day to day basis, nothing really challenges me (apart from the moods of my family but that's another story). Part of me is really excited by new challenges but as the time grows closer when I will lose my safety net, part of me is just a little bit scared too.

Last week I had a meeting with a consultant, to give me some advice on setting up as a freelance. This was all part of my redundancy package from my employer, which I think is a real bonus. I've been talking about working for myself for a while now, but this was one of the first real steps towards doing anything about it. At first I was just a little bit nervous, but it actually proved to be a beneficial experience and he is now working on drafting a new CV for me, which I can use as a marketing tool.

The next day was another new experience as I travelled to Southport to go to a Chapter lunch with the RNA. I'd never met any of members before, and I hadn't been to Southport for years either so I didn't even know the area. However, it was a real treat to be travelling by train and I even managed to get some work done on my journey. The lunch was a sit down affair, so it wasn't that easy to mingle, but the people I was sitting beside were lovely and made me feel right at home. To spend an entire day thinking and talking about writing was a novelty.

A novelty which was to be repeated on Friday as I went to the Woman's Weekly Live exhibition in Manchester. Now, this was an event I nearly bottled out of, not because I didn't want to go, but because it would take ages to get to by train - my preferred choice. The obvious thing to do was to drive there as it would take half the time, but I'm absolutely hopeless at driving in places I don't know, especially in cities. Of course I've been to Manchester loads of times, but usually as a passenger, and that's completely different. I have absolutely no sense of direction; it's almost as if that part of my brain is missing. Whenever I have to go to new places around home, ie taking the boys to football pitches that I've never been to before, I usually try and do a dry run first and my lovely husband is very patient with me.

But on Friday I was on my own, so I loaded myself down with directions - perhaps I need to invest in Sat Nav? - and went on my way. The first bit was easy as it was the journey I take to my mum's but the second half was the new bit. But I did it. I did get a little bit lost at one point but found my way out of it and was really pleased with myself. I even managed to get myself back too, not always easy to the do directions backwards. Well not if you're me anyway. It certainly got the adrenaline pumping but it was worth it.

The event had several fiction workshops, which was my reason for going, and was run by Gaynor Davies herself (fiction editor), Della Galton and Jane Wenham-Jones. All three of them were absolutely lovely. The event had an entry fee of £8 but that was for three days. Of the five workshops, you were only supposed to be able to do two per day. Unfortunately I could only go on one day, so I booked myself in for the two I wanted to do most. On Friday though, the workshops weren't fully booked so we were allowed to join the other workshops too which was fantastic.

It was so good to be able to meet Gaynor as she was able to give us an idea of what she is looking for in the short stories she selects. As far as market research goes, you can't get better than that. I think it really shows that Woman's Weekly is committed to giving new writers a chance and now, I just hope I can translate that into my writing and hopefully some sales.

One of the sessions was a one to one which I had with Jane. She was really helpful, and showed me how I could improve the story I had taken with me.

So thank you all ladies, it was a brilliant day and excellent value for money. If Woman's Weekly hold an event near you, I would definitely recommend going.

This week, I'm going to take things a little more quietly. Last week was about challenge, this week is about catching up. On Saturday though the family are off to Leeds. It's my eldest's birthday on Sunday, he will be 11. Where did that time go? He supports Leeds (football) so we're off to the match. Can't wait! But I get to stay the night in a hotel and I am getting used to watching football, it's one thing I get plenty of practice at these days. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

New Beginnings

I've always been rather fond of the month of September - like January although with better weather.  Although I wasn't very fond of school itself, I did enjoy the academic process and being a bit of a paper addict, it was good to have fresh notebooks and a pencil case full of new pens.
Several years on, academia has passed me by but I still look on September as a month to assess where I am in life and a chance to set myself new targets.  (And it does help that the kids have gone back to school - yeh - and I can get back to a weekly routine - even if I'm not looking forward to the football season.)
This year it's even more of a challenge as I am being made redundant at the end of this month.  It's something that has been in the offing for a long time, so I'm not exactly devastated by it.  It is rather sad, as I started the job when my youngest was a baby and he will be nine in January, so it has been a big part of my life. 
But I'm looking on it as an opportunity to change my life.  In this financial climate I never would have left the job of my own accord, but I was getting a bit stuck in a rut and working five days a week left little time to do anything else. 
So, as I have no hope, as yet, of earning a decent living from my writing, I've decided to play to my strenghts and set up my own freelance administration business.  I've been an administrator / PA for more years than I care to remember now, and people have told me that I'm rather good at it, so with the advent of technology, and with smaller companies needing someone to organise them, but not having the resources to employ them, I thought I would do it solo.  I have a couple of potential clients so far, so fingers crossed I will make a success of it. I just need to find a new working routine, combine it with writing, and do it all during the hours of 9-3. 
No time wasting then!