What Made Me a Writer – Writing in Secret

Serina Hartwell - Author

Serina Hartwell – Author

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 a trip out of the house for an hour.

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 choked 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 one. 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 wasn’t any point arguing with him, it would have been a waste of my time and energy. Pleading was demeaning, so I resigned myself to forgetting the dream and to getting on with my career that was going nowhere. You see, at the time I had worked tirelessly for a promotion at work. I worked all my evenings and 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 my employer, 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, but nothing had ever satisfied that need. This job was the closest I had been to achieving it. 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 with my life. This new career direction I’d been forced into was the catalyst I needed for change.

If I could work that hard for someone else, 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 before. I loved the people I worked with, but I needed a job that was fulfilling. Yet my fiancé had told me not to be a writer for a living, so I had a huge conflict. I was torn.

Days went by, I had put the writing aside and tried to distract myself, ignoring the urge inside me to continue, but no matter how hard I tried, everything came back to writing. It was all I could think about – my mind was bursting with images. I went off my food, everything became tasteless; every task at work that I’d seen as a new and exciting challenge, became monotonous and boring, or just another problem to solve. I could see no future with this employer. There was nothing to work for, nowhere for me to aspire to, but I had a mortgage and bills to pay and the recession had hit hard – there were no jobs. So I stayed with my employer, keeping my head down and hoping for a way out of my situation, but couldn’t really see a way out with the recession.

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 I no longer had a career, I had a job now.

Trapped, I slowly began to question myself. From the summer of 2010, all the way through 2013, was like living in hell for me. I had given all I could and had done my best at work, so the problem then must surely lie with me, but they were still coming to me for all the answers.

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 where we needed to be further down the line. With everything that was happening at work, I knew from the start that I could never come back from what they had done to me, so 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. Reinvention was my only way forward.

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. 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 – NO! The only person who could change that was me and I had to try, so every spare minute I had, I got my laptop out and I wrote as much as I could.

I was beginning 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 had never been so happy to put him straight about something. 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. I now plough this time into my own venture. Sometimes the tower has to crumble to give us a new beginning. If none of it had happened, I would have still been doing the same job, probably for many years to come. With a publishing contract signed, and my first book about to be released imminently, I am still there, working at the same place. I can hear the gasps now, as you read this, especially after they treated me so badly. I knew, however, 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 from scratch, 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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