The need to write was getting stronger, all the while, I couldn’t deny it any longer.
Once I had discovered that I could write, it was like Christmas day, every day. Suddenly, I was making great progress and I could see my achievement across my page. Naturally the first thing I wanted to do was to share my new discovery with my fiancé, Matt, so I did. We left the house one evening, shortly after my discovery and walked up to our local pub for a drink without the kids. Life for us was already starting to change as our children were growing up and becoming independent of us, we could finally do a simple thing like that without getting a babysitter, something that had always been in short supply when the kids were little. So with our new found freedom, we took another trip out of the house for an hour, feeling good about ourselves anyway.
I remember walking up our very steep hill, struggling to keep up with him and bursting with the excitement of my news. I couldn’t wait to get there to tell him, because I knew that what I had discovered was life changing. I had a new beginning, something to pick me up out of the rut I had found myself in. So off we went and soon arrived. We bought our drink and found a nice secluded spot in the bar area and I couldn’t wait any longer. Out the question, “How would you feel if I became a writer?” poured. I looked at him, searching his face for an answer, completely elated at my new beginning and slowly watched his face as negativity clouded it. “No!” came the answer.
There was no time taken to think about it, no consideration for the excitement I was bursting with, a simple ‘no’ finished the conversation there and then. I have to tell you that although I may not have shown it, I was pretty devastated. I remember my insides wanting to curl up in a foetal ball and hide from the world. I suddenly felt on display, like the whole pub had heard and were watching my inner crisis. Of course no one had heard, nor were they interested, but there it was, my dream screwed up in a ball and thrown across the room along with my excitement and self-esteem. If you’ve ever had a long night, it’s probably nothing compared to that. I couldn’t let him see how hurt I was. I had to sit there and be entertaining, but inside all I wanted to do was cry my heart out.
I know my fiancé, and at the time I knew that no meant no. There was no point arguing with him, it would have been pointless. Pleading was demeaning and a waste of time, so I resigned myself to forgetting the dream and getting on with my dull and pointless career. You see, at the time I had worked tirelessly for a promotion at work. I worked all my evenings, weekends, late into the night. I stayed back and worked an extra two hours on top of my working day that I wasn’t getting paid for, nor acknowledged for, to get a department up and running for them, but when it came to promotion, I was passed up in favour of another. This reality check hit me hard. I suddenly saw how I had been used. I had been looking for something special to do with my life since leaving school. I’d worked in numerous sectors, trying lots of different jobs and careers out, but nothing had ever satisfied that need. I knew that commitment to work wasn’t the problem, nor was skill, I was simply on the wrong path. I needed to get on the right path, to be doing the thing that I was supposed to be doing and this new career direction I’d been forced into, was the catalyst I needed to change.
If I could work that hard for someone else, for them to benefit from my efforts, then surely I could turn that around and apply those same attributes to a project of my own. I had never needed to leave a job as much in my life. I loved the people I worked with, but I couldn’t allow that to happen to me. I was nobody’s fool, but Matt had told me not to be a writer for a living, so I had a huge conflict.
Days went by and I had put the writing aside and tried to distract myself, ignoring the urge inside me to write, but no matter how hard I tried, everything came back to writing. It was all I could think about. I went to work and felt the biggest kick in the teeth, as management all smiled so nicely at me, while patting the new girl on the back. I went off my food, because everything was tasteless, every task at work that before I’d seen as a new and exciting challenge, became a monotonous task. They took all the work I enjoyed doing the most from me and gave it to her with a huge pay rise, they apparently couldn’t afford to give me, leaving me with all the rubbish to do on a daily basis. I could see no future with this employer. There was nothing to work for, nowhere for me to aspire to aim at. The promotion that had been handed to another was the only place I could go and that door had been slammed in my face now, but I had a mortgage and bills to pay and the recession had hit hard – there were no jobs and my employer knew this. So I stayed with them, keeping my head down and hoping for a way out of my situation.
The need to write was getting stronger, all the while. I couldn’t deny it any longer and the old adage, ‘when one door closes, another one open,’ circled in my mind, over and over. So I sat at my desk and reassessed my career expectations. I knew that my new boss had taken my career and screwed it up into the smallest, tightest ball possible and tossed it in the bin, while smiling gracefully at me with a, you’re on board smile, aren’t you? I no longer had a career, I had a job now.
Trapped, I slowly began to question myself and 2010, 2011, 2012 and a lot of 2013, were like living in hell for me. I had given them all they had asked for and more, but apparently that wasn’t enough. They kept altering goal posts and wanting more, they had become greedy. The problem must lie with me, I questioned, but they were still coming to me for all the answers, because I had created a structure from nothing. I had written every process and procedure. I had trained all my staff and run the place too well. I ensured that it worked in the three months I was off sick. On my return, my boss told me that the question had been asked around the board table, ‘well do we need her?’ It’s run okay without her.’ Straight away I knew that I had been duped. I was in trouble. He didn’t know how to run the department, but thought that he did, because I made it look easy, but why was I foolish enough not to let everything collapse around them in my absence? The answer to that one is easy. It’s because I’m not that kind of person. I am considerate of others and I do care. There are times when I wished that I was more cut throat and didn’t trust other people to do the right thing, but I see the good in people and unfortunately, my boss knew that.
The same boss did it to me again. He split my job again, taking anything else I enjoyed and gave it to two other staff this time. I applied for my own job again, but this time they didn’t even give me an interview. They needed me to stay in the position they had put me in. They told me that they couldn’t consider me for the post I’d been doing for the previous two years, with the people who had applied for the posts. There was no thank you attached to the statement. Slam! Any hope I had of getting away from my desk and developing another area of skills was taken from me. I knew once and for all that there was a serious problem at work. Enough was enough, I had to get out. It would seem that getting sick and having three months off work for a serious operation, for a condition that I had failed to recognise and therefore neglected, because I was working all the hours under the sun, for them, had given them the planning time they needed. I knew that although there was a great deal of time between the two events, this had been planned from the start.
I have to admit that the night at the pub, hadn’t deterred me for long. I love my fiancé, but I have always had the ability to see the long game. With everything that was happening at work, I knew from the start that I could never come back from this. I had to move forward. He didn’t understand just how bad things were for me, because I tried to shield him from as much as I could and deal with it on my own.
The urge to write had become so strong that I couldn’t resist it any longer. Deep down, I knew that this was my way forward. I didn’t know what was driving me in this direction, but I had never experienced anything so powerful in my life before and knew I couldn’t ignore it. So I did something that I am quite ashamed of now and started writing in secret, even though I knew that he wouldn’t support my new direction and had put a full stop on. If nothing else, I had reached a point in my life where everything was a ‘no’ anyway. Anything I asked for, I got one blanket answer for – NO! The only person who could change that was me and I had to try, so every spare bit of time I had, I got my laptop out and I wrote as much as I could.
I was starting to realise that I was in the company of other writers, some more successful than others, so I could see first-hand that there was a way of making an income from it. Slowly, Hidden started to take shape and I knew that I had the foundations for a book. I had to stand back a few times and shake myself, because I had no idea where this stuff was coming from, but once I had opened that gate, everything started pouring through. The tidal wave of creativity shows no signs of slowing down today and I know in the long run I made the right decision, but at the time I couldn’t deny that Matt was suspicious.
One day we sat down and he came right out and asked me if I was having an affair. I had to laugh. He had watched me on the computer, typing away and assumed the worst. I have never been so happy to put him straight about something in my life. I showed him my book and asked him what he thought. He never gave me a direct answer, but from that point on, I never wrote in secret again. He has supported me all the way.
As I run the two careers side by side, very few people at work know that I am a writer and author and have been since that hot sunny day in August. I look back at the hell I have been through since I got sick and can now cherish this time. I have let go of many of my responsibilities at work and immediately stopped doing the extra. I now plough this time into my own venture. Sometimes the tower has to crumble to give us a new beginning. If all of that hadn’t happened, I would have still been doing the same job, probably for many years to come. They have cooked their golden goose though. With a publishing contract signed, I am still there, working at the same place. I can hear the gasps now, as you read this, but I knew that if I was going to get my writing career off the ground, I needed to focus just on that. Applying for other jobs and the prospect of retraining and starting again were taking the focus and my energy away from the writing, so I’m running the wheel and working toward a new goal. To be a full time writer and author.
Serina Hartwell – Author of The Hidden Saga
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