Plotting, Planning, Scheming, Dreaming…

I had a lot of lovely messages about the post I published yesterday, called Looking Back while Moving Forward. If you were one of those who got in touch, thank you!

Today I thought I’d take the post a little further, because I know there are a lot of people stuck in dead end jobs, desperately hoping that their dreams will come true one of these days. I obviously don’t know your situation and what you are aiming for in your career, but I hope that the following will give you a little hope for what you can achieve.

It is absolutely no secret that I worked for seventeen years in a job I disliked immensely. I have to be honest and say that some of that despair wasn’t caused specifically by the job, but through my utter belief that I was not living the life I was supposed to be in. The job I had was as an assistant in a management library. I spent my days looking after visitors, answering phone calls, filing and processing books, inputting data and photocopying. Since I’ve been utterly obsessed with books since I was born, it should have been nice to be surrounded by 30,000 of them every day, but these books were all about leadership, finances, emotional intelligence and a stream of topics I didn’t understand or care for.

In the seventeen years of working there, I saw many colleagues come and go. Some were supportive of my career hopes, but others literally burst into laughter at the very mention that I wanted to be a writer. You see, I was ‘just’ an assistant in the library, surrounded by people with degrees and much life experience. I was told frequently that I would be the last person to leave… that the library would close down and I’d be the one left to turn the lights out.  These remarks used to upset me at the time, but now I realise that actually they unknowingly spurred me onto pursue my dreams and prove everyone wrong! So in that regard, I took a negative and turned it into a positive.

I hear from many people who are working a day-job while hoping to fulfil their dreams and ambitions. I get it, I lived through it too and know what you’re going through. It affects your whole life because the frustration you feel in your job is brought home and often taken out on loved-ones or friends. I remember one time about twenty years ago, when a publisher (Hodder actually) really loved a novel I wrote. The editor said it made her laugh and cry and she very much wanted to take it forward to publication. I couldn’t believe it! I went to work safe in the knowledge that I would soon be leaving to become a real author! For the next few months it was a blessed secret, keeping a smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach. I was leaving! I was escaping with a book contract in my hands! Well it didn’t quite work out like that…

One dark winter’s day, I was just about to leave for work when the postman knocked and handed me a huge envelope. I saw the word Hodder on the front and knew exactly what it was. My manuscript. I ripped it open and read the apologetic letter from the editor, who assured me that she still loved the book, but unfortunately the sales and marketing team thought it was too much like Bridget Jones. They’d have to pass but wished me good luck elsewhere. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I was quite prone to dramatics in those days and threw the entire manuscript around my living room. As pages crashed down around my ears, I swept off to work and cried on the shoulder of a sympathetic colleague. What my husband thought about the paper mountain that awaited him when he got home was another thing… All I could think about was just how close I’d come to making my dreams come true, and then seeing everything shatter through no fault of my own.

I tell you one thing that really helped me though, and that was finding something to do outside of writing. I discovered yoga and complimentary therapies, and in the few years leading up to the time when I finally did escape the day job, I worked hard on numerous courses, exams and workshops. Yoga was a perfect tonic for an unfulfilled work life, plus I found that I was pretty good at it. In fact I can safely say that it was yoga that provided a bridge from my day job to my writing life. You see, after the birth of my daughter, I saw an advert for a children’s yoga teaching course and I signed up immediately. After I went back to the day-job part-time, I worked on building up some classes and from there I was given the opportunity to also write for a popular yoga magazine. I juggled my baby, yoga and writing (not literally of course – don’t juggle your baby, people! 🙂 ) and within a few months I was able to give up the day job and concentrate on yoga instead. From there, I built up my writing until I was finally able to take the leap to where I am today.

The library where I once worked has now closed down, and none of my colleagues remain at the company anymore. I went back to see the empty department and had a little smile to myself. The library may be gone and the books discarded, but this one thing I know for sure – In the end, I wasn’t the one left to turn the lights out, and I’m very grateful for that.

Until next time,

Michelle x


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