News I didn’t want just before Christmas

“Ahh, yes, spring and early summer 2011. You’ll never forget it, will you? Getting drunk and hanging around nice places making out like you were some sort of a proper journalist or something! Thinking you were worth other people’s money! Or even love! Hahaha! What a hoot! You didn’t really think you could make a go of life, did you!? Look at you now! Back in your box, loser…!” 

The above has been playing in my head for two years, like a relentless Spotify advert with added cruelty. And I’ve been trying everything I can think of – counselling, running, Pilates, cat-cuddling, babysitting, writing my book, being angry, being kind to people – to make it stop. Over the last few months I’ve gradually been rethinking the bread and butter part of my career, sidelining journalism/copywriting and trying to set up a full-time business around some of the SpLD advocacy and awareness work I do. It was energising and hopeful to begin with. Sadly, from an upfront conversation the other evening with a potential backer I now know fairly emphatically that it isn’t going to happen – at least not in the short or medium term. He said that although my ideas are strong, I’ve correctly identified the market gap, and he’s interested in working with me at an unspecified point in future, he thinks (and I accept) that I don’t currently have the sorts of qualifications I’d need to get the referrals to bring in enough profit. Getting said qualifications would take time and cost money – even if I had the latter (I don’t, nor am I likely to get it from any funding body because I’m already overqualified and too old) I still need to live in the mean time. His advice therefore was to carry on with what I’m doing for now.

Unfortunately what I’m doing – journalism and copywriting – really isn’t working and hasn’t been for a while now: as in, there just isn’t enough of it; hence the business idea in the first place. Most advice I’ve seen or been given about freelancing is to take an aimless scattergun approach and bank upon it working eventually. Which is A Problem. If I know anything about anything it is that aimless scattergunning doesn’t work for me. I may wish dearly that it did, but it doesn’t. I can’t work without putting some sort of structure in place and having some sense I know what I’m doing and where it’s leading. If I try to wing a task (whether it’s public speaking without notes, interviewing someone without prepared questions or writing a novel without a plan) I freeze in panic and/or look for a distraction; when I’m working to a plan I do very well. On the rare occasions scattergunning has worked for me, namely early-mid 2011 – it stopped working after setbacks – namely bereavement, my private life, and being betrayed by a major story source. So I need a better structure, a clear strategy, in order to move forward. The problem is at the moment I don’t know what that clear strategy should contain. The immediate priority is to finish The Book, but that has been suffering in recent weeks because of worries over everything else. I’m under strict instructions to enjoy Christmas, work hard at the book as planned and forget everything else but I have not a clue what’s going to happen in January, beyond an ongoing but low-paid copywriting commission already lined up… 

I don’t write a lot of posts like this these days as it gets a bit soul-destroying when one thing after another doesn’t come to fruition (see this post for a flavour of the many career suggestions I’ve already had/thought of/tried), but since I’ve enthused about the business idea with several people I thought I’d do an update and save several conversations. And, should anyone require the services of a woman who writes like a demon to drown out an inner-voice in italics, let me know…

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2 thoughts on “News I didn’t want just before Christmas

  1. Hugs my darling. You are awesome and wonderful. I don’t have any miracle plan to present you with, but I’m sure it’ll work itself out. The book sounds like it’s working, so focus on that. It’s easy to feel down in the space immediately after bad news, but give it time and try not to focus on it too much, and you never know, your whirring brain might come up with a solution while you’re not looking. And don’t stop doing the advocacy work you are doing. All the experience may well eventually add up to weighing as much as a qualification. Also, I don’t know what qualifications it was suggested you might need, but my sister’s just started a two-year masters in occupational therapy and that’s being funded by the NHS. Is something like that a possibility for you?

  2. Thanks darling. Sadly I don’t think the things I’d need qualifications in are NHS-fundable, and even if they were, I think having a postgrad already would likely make me ineligible (though I could be wrong – that’s based on my experiences so far every time I’ve thought of retraining for anything). Basically I can continue to do what I do with the advocacy but if I want referrals from particular agencies (which are where the serious money is) I’ll always need the bit of paper. But thank you anyway. And see you soon! *hug*

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