A Leap of Faith

You may remember previous mentions on this blog of developments which were taking their time to develop. Well, they’re finally finished (I nearly put an elaborate analogy here about photographs, chemical baths, and dark rooms until it occurred to me that nobody under the age of 25 would know what I was talking about). No, I haven’t got that 3-book deal, but I am taking a bold step towards becoming a proper writer – yes, I’m giving up the day job.

Why now? After all, I don’t yet have a publisher, nor any sort of income stream from writing, so I’m taking a leap of faith, hoping that things will work out so I’ll be able to write all day and still pay the bills. Well, there’s nothing like an extended period of sickness to give you a new perspective and make you re-evaluate your priorities. When you can barely move, being able to afford a ski holiday suddenly seems a whole lot less important. So when, shortly after getting back to work, my employer announced a programme of voluntary redundancy, something clicked. Maybe, I thought, it’s finally time to make a real proper go of this writing thing, and that severance payment will provide a crash mat.

And so, by this time next week, I’ll have left my career in project management behind, and devoted myself to my hobby instead. Right now, I’m about 1/3 excited, 1/3 terrified, and 1/3 still in denial. I’m ecstatic at the thought of not having to get up early in the morning, of being able to spend as much time as I like doing what I love, of being able to wear my pyjamas until 4pm if I want to, of being able to tell people ‘I’m a writer’ and for it to actually be true… but then, if publication remains elusive, perhaps ‘writer’ will be a less accurate description than ‘unemployed person’ or, seeing as we’ll be living off my husband’s salary, ‘housewife’.

It might not work out. I might never become a ‘proper’ writer with books in the shops and royalties in my bank account. But I figure it’s worth a try. I’m allowing myself a couple of years to give it my best shot (health permitting) – even if I get nowhere near publication, I should be able to write one, two, or even three books in half the space of time The Heartland of the Winter took, so I’ll have something to (I hope!) be proud of. And, in the somewhat morbid words of one my former colleagues when I told him about my decision, ‘You should do what you want to do. After all, you’re a long time staring at the wood.’

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Back Online

Hi folks, I’m back online! Yes, after four whole dry weeks, I’m diving into the murky waters of social media again. So, how did it go?

 

Well, I did it – I’ve checked neither Facebook nor Twitter, I’ve stayed clear of Tumblr and WordPress, I’ve watched no YouTube videos unless you count that 22-second clip of a skylark in flight which was linked from the RSPB website. Which I don’t. To my surprise and relief, I didn’t feel any great compulsion to look at all these things, and I’m not desperate to go back to my old ways. But nor did I feel any real temptation to make abstinence a way of life. Social media is, after all, great for certain things – like keeping in touch with friends and relatives who live long distances away, and connecting with people who share common interests – which I would definitely miss if I stayed off long-term. And a couple of people told me they missed my online presence, which is always nice to hear.

 

I had hoped to free up time for other, more important activities. Perhaps predictably, this didn’t really happen – I found it all too easy to find other ways of frittering away those precious minutes, although I did succeed in getting off Wikipedia and into a book at least a certain percentage of the time, so I’ll count that a partial success.

 

One thing I wasn’t expecting was the extent of the electronic conspiracy trying to undermine my best efforts – emails with the latest tweets and status updates, my phone’s various underhand ways of showing me notifications (‘Ha! You may have stopped me beeping at you whenever something gets retweeted, but I’m still going to show you a Facebook message when you try to look at your calendar! Mwa ha ha!’). The emails are now directed straight into my junk folder, and all the notifications are switched off, but it took quite a lot of effort to disentangle myself from that sticky web, and I don’t really want to get re-entangled.

 

So what next? I’m coming back online, but I’m determined not to get back into the same bad habits I had before. I’m happy that I’ve proved to myself I can live without social media, but sometimes, like the former alcoholic who’s now teetotal, abstinence can be easier than moderation. Now the challenge is to enjoy social media sensibly – to have an online self but not let that become my whole self, to resist the temptation to believe that ‘pictures or it didn’t happen’, to have experiences without tweeting them, to spend time with someone without tagging them in a status update, and to live life – sometimes – without turning it into a blog post. On that note, I’m off to do some stuff, and I’m not going to tell you anything about it.