Freedom is a rather daunting prospect. Time – all of my own – to waste, to dream, to create, to work, to – well, I genuinely have no idea what.  I’ve been given a gift. A priceless opportunity. Time.

When I lost my dad I moved into the auto-pilot phase at work. I did what I needed to do, what I was told to do even though I was finding it overwhelming on a subconscious level. I hit my deadlines, wrote my reports, delivered my grant programmes. I asked for one item of work to be reallocated, either to another person or another time, because I knew I couldn’t achieve it. That request fell on deaf ears (long history of passive aggressive conflict here that we don’t need to go into).

Month later, more personal bad news. Cue many alcoholic beverages, tears and soul searching. What are my priorities? Who are they? Where the hell do I fit in the midst of all this.


I have (had) a job that is wonderful in so many ways. I work with a lovely group of people, all looking towards bettering the lives of other people. I enjoy much of what I do. But I just can’t do it any more. I broke. I realised I need my family and I need to look after myself more than I need the constant harassment of deadlines and the inability to sleep at night wondering when it was all going to fall through the cracks and shattered into tiny pieces. Him Underfoot suggested it even before I’d realised it myself – time out. Step back. Look at your options. And my options give me enough in savings to take two years out.

Decision made, I thought I’d be ok when I handed over the letter. After I’d sobbed all over our HR director’s desk I realised this wasn’t the case.  I’m terrified. Terrified of unemployment.  I’ve worked solidly for over 20 years, putting myself through 10 years of night school to achieve an HNC, a degree, and two masters. To then voluntarily make myself unemployed is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

It’s a decision that has caused much comment in those about me. I just watched a recent episode of the Big Bang Theory where Penny resigns from the Cheese Cake Factory to pursue her dream of being an actress. Leonard on the surface appears supportive, but then can’t help but shoot his mouth off with his real reservations at the first opportunity.  Now Him Underfoot is fully supportive – but the rest of them?  Not so sure.  Telling people you are taking a full 6 months out of work with no intention of looking for another job is just not what we are conditioned to expect. My mother has taken to telling people that I’ve ‘retired’, whilst also telling them I’ve had a complete breakdown and ‘must be bad with her nerves’.  Actually, what I’m doing is taking steps to stop myself having a breakdown, strange as it may seem.  I just can’t marry the two sides of my life up successfully any more, and I’d rather leave work on good terms than end up a sobbing, emotional wreck on the sick for months and ultimately unemployable.

Of course, I intend to write. When you come from my working class, comprehensive school / social housing background, to resign from a permanent and decent job to flounce off and write stories appears to be a crazy decision. A presumption on my part that I have ability and something worth communicating. Well, actually, maybe  I do. And I want to give it as good a go as I can, because if I never give this – my one true passion – a proper shot at success (and I don’t define success by publication, merely completion to my satisfaction), then I may as well resign myself to a life of corp-drudgery where my family will always come second to my deadlines and work imposed insomnia.

The one person whose opinion matters (because I’m financially reducing our partnership and placing more of a burden on him) is my husband. He’s behind me all the way. If he has faith in me, then I take faith in myself. I’m not a fool, I have options in the future and alternative income streams that I am investigating if this doesn’t work out.

I don’t know where the next two years will take me. That’s ok, because it’s my choice and I am in control. I’m excited. I’m sad, to leave many wonderful people behind. I may nose dive terribly, and again that’s ok – failure in this case is an option.

Finally I can be where I need to be, and do what I need to do. And that is priceless.


Within Temptation – Angels

Sooooo excited to see Within Temptation tomorrow night, even if it has rather unexpectedly become a school night (curse you Comic Relief grants panel!). Working Tuesdays shouldn’t be allowed – I will have to remain sober and keep reminding myself this is a 5 hour long crucial meeting. The good news is that I’m only in 2 days next week and the weekend starts Thursday…tapas is on the menu, folks.

Pique-y fit over, not been a bad week. Reading on Monday went very well, despite the low turn out (or perhaps because of). Mum & Bill well impressed with the Lit & Phil. My cheerful band of reprobates (Derry, Dave & Sue) were present and waving at me from the back row. And Pauly, well, he bought me tea. I only mangled one sentence exceptionally badly. There are no photos that I can find, but I do know the whole thing was video’d…

Started writing in my lunch breaks again, trying out some exercises in voice (a mermaid monologue and a second person pen portrait of a transvestite, thank you oh Mslexia for the prod). Becoming such a regular in Nero that the nice gents working there carry my coffee upstairs for me (they’ve seen the catastrophe waiting to happen with my shaking hands). I need to lay off the bacon muffins and lemon and poppy seed muffins though. I’m definitely sprouting my very own muffin top.

If I survive the Comic Relief marathon (33,000 word fund report, written in 10 working days – why can’t I translate this output to my own writing?), I’ll have earned that damn muffin. ‘Til later.



Hell, why not? What else is birthday money for?! I’m also sitting her in a major panic about the short story reading tonight at the Lit & Phil. My trial runs have not been very successful; however it is a useful lesson to a rookie writer to remember that at some point you may be required to read your work out loud so try it at least once at the drafting stage to ensure it does not sound pretentious (and that you can pronounce those big words you love so much!).

Anyhow, I am an April Fool. I spent a rather nice day with my mum, step-dad and aunty in Newcastle, being people-that-lunch. My mum and step dad bought me the cutest charm for my charm bracelet – a silver skull from Hammonds of Whitby. Aunty kindly gave me some money, as did my Big Bro (in the form of a Gothic Shop voucher).  The lovely husband had a system going live at work on my actual birthday, so took me out on Saturday and bought me a gorgeous, delicate locket with a smokey quartz stone which I am intending to wear tonight.

I’m obviously on the jewellery trail, as I couldn’t decide between 2 Alchemy Gothic pieces. Naturally I ended up with both…the path of least resistance is the one I will always follow! Birthday monies all committed, I fell for this lovely choker:


Westnera Choker: license to self impale!

Westnera Choker: license to self impale!

And then because I liked it I also ended up with the Twilight bracelet. Now I certainly am no fan of Twilight, but I did like this (the earrings are pretty nifty too, but I do have some restraint, honest!).


Shiny pretty moony things

Shiny pretty moony things

So, I’m now off to iron my shirt for tonight, and do another (painful) read through for my bored audience of one grumpy dog. Seriously considering gin! And must hide the credit card…