It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog and I’ve chosen a rather serious one to kick off the autumn. I thought about lightening it up, editing out the personal stuff, but it’s all important to my decisions and my story. So in it stays.
In fact it’s been some time since I’ve written anything at all other than tenders for my day job and a very long report on construction skills gaps in London which took several months to research and write up. It’s writing that I’d become so bored and agitated with that it actually started to cause me physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. Some of you will know that these symptoms are hard to manage and can be worse to bare than the pain of broken limbs or the discomfort of colds and flu. It’s relentless and damaging and it infiltrates your life.
I’ve always enjoyed my job, and I’ve worked for a wonderful company for nearly fourteen years in London. I thrived on the deadlines and the success as well as accepting the failures and challenges. But that all changed last year when it became clear that hard work and pressure, combined with facing something that you really don’t want to do anymore, results in mental and physical responses that are, at times, overwhelming. I’d also just published The Prodigal, and a glint appeared in my eye.
It all seemed to come together at once. The world, Universe or whatever was telling me – no, ordering me – that it was time for change. A big change. I was single again, the grind of life in London, its galloping gentrification, hipsters and ridiculous house prices were getting right on my nerves, and I knew I couldn’t afford to live in London independently and write. Then I got the awful news that my dad had become sick and had only a short time left. The deal was done and the north was beckoning me with its affordability and opportunity. The opportunity to write what I wanted to write, what I think I can write, and which wouldn’t fill me with the dread and tedium that my job was becoming. I felt unhappy and trapped in a future I didn’t like the look of.
So here I am in bonny Scotland, with a lovely room, my own bathroom, great company and fresh air. Not one member of my family or friends have said I’m being a fool, destroying my career or throwing away a good income and pension. They want me to be happy, simple as that. I’m only a couple of hours from my parents in Northumberland so I can help give them the support they need over the coming months. I can write my book and live off the income of my rented flat in Newcastle thanks to the generosity of my wonderful sister and her husband who have offered me their home as my home for the foreseeable future. I’m free. I’m in control of my future again.
The moral of the story? Listen to the Universe, to your heart. I’m not saying I’m not lucky. I don’t have children, a mortgage or debt. I’ve got a big family who will always offer me a roof over my head, and I’ve got the skills I need to get a job again if I need to. So even if it is a silly dream and I’m a fool, even if it is short term and I find that I can’t make a living out of writing books, I’m going to give it a damn good try.And I couldn’t have done that without the support of my previous employer, my family and my friends. You all rock and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.