My first blog covers how I came to set myself up in business offering writing services.
Never in my life did I think I’d be self-employed. I was brought up in the strict 9-5 tradition, and was a firm subscriber to the family faith of ‘always be in work, any work. A job is better than no job’.
But then a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Let me take you back to Autumn 2017.
I provided some constructive criticism for Judith Sheila Dawson, an artist I’d just met who was launching an online accessories shop, shopblueflamingo.com. She and her husband were thrilled with the feedback and I found I’d enjoyed the exercise and offered to help out again in future.
A series of unfortunate/serendipitous events and the cataclysmic/fantastic changes in my life over the last twelve months had inspired me to put it all down in an autobiography (my second). November saw me up my game and write avidly (perhaps too avidly – 200,000 words in a couple of months is a lot. Seriously – it’s about the size of two novels). But I was passionate about writing. In the humdrum and then turmoil of my recent life, I’d forgotten how much I loved it.
The novel wasn’t enough; I’ve been writing poetry since I was five and after a long hiatus, it was pouring out of me again like a broken tap. I even did the unbelievably scary thing of performing it in Martinez wine bar at the buskers night. People paid me! It was the first time I’d ever received money as a reward for my writing. People even came up to me afterwards and said how relatable they’d found some of my pieces. For poetry, with its suspiciously high-brow/intellectual status, that was pretty amazing.
Several friends commented on my writing as well; on my humour, my creatively different take on things, making people feel like they were living through the experience with me. Judith and her husband said I had too good a talent to waste and encouraged me to do something with it. I began to formulate the idea of a copywriting business. Once I’d bought my house and the decorating was over, I could turn my spare time over to gradually building a client base, and maybe one day I would be able to be creative for a living, and get so much satisfaction out of making a difference for people every day.
Before Christmas I went to visit an old friend in Scotland and caught her up on all this. She mentioned a friend who had done something similar and was making a very good living out of it. So it was possible. But it was very firmly filed in the cabinet of ‘one day’.
But I was finding it harder and harder to drag myself down to the station every morning for the oppressive commute to Leeds for a job I was finding increasingly frustrating, difficult and totally devoid of any job satisfaction.
“You need to be your own boss,” Judith said.
All very well, but you can’t just become your own boss overnight. I’d just have to get a job somewhere else, somehow.
Serendipitously (there’s that lovely word again, my favourite), there was a communications role going within my firm. I spoke to the lady in recruitment about what they were looking for and was dismayed to hear it was for someone with very solid experience who could hit the ground running. “Oh, okay, that doesn’t sound like me then. I’d just really love the role and only the other week I had an epiphany about how important that aspect of the business is and I’d really like to get involved with that. But never mind, I understand.”
“Well, actually if you write down all that you’ve just said to me we’ll take a look,” she said.
So I constructed an application and as I thought about it, I realised I did have a lot of experience – sometimes you’ve so firmly pigeon-holed yourself into your lengthy career that all the parts of those jobs, your voluntary work, and your interests that qualify you to step out of that hole don’t have room to fly.
And then it was announced that I was being evicted from my pigeon hole anyway.
I hoped and hoped I’d get the comms job. I progressed to stage two and completed an assignment to write news copy for our various media channels. I passed that and had an interview with the hiring manager by video conference. She was easy to talk to and I liked her instantly. I had a very enjoyable hour talking to her, telling her about my persuading skills, sharing my ideas as to what I would do in the role, and my enthusiasm was boundless.
I’d been looking for a change of career for fifteen years and thanks to this advertisement my true calling had become obvious to me.
I knew if I didn’t get the role, I was going to take the redundancy settlement, launch my own writing service, and go back to university for marketing and web design qualifications to expand to offer a marketing service for local startups and established businesses.
And I’d launch a publishing imprint and self-publish the children’s book I wrote 20 years ago and promote it and share the proceeds with homeless and animal charities. And I’ll dig out my old plays and write some new ones to be performed at my favourite theatre, Slunglow in Leeds. Fortunately I know a couple of talented actresses to star in them. And I’ll submit my poetry for publication. And keep up the songwriting and get that band together. And write more short stories.
I was pipped to the job post by someone who ticked one more box than me.
And here I am.