Hope everyone is enjoying their midwinter break.


Two more days left of 2016, and it has been quite an eventful year. In the latter half of this year, I not only finished my degree but have taken a somewhat, though not wholly, unexpected turn in my plans, career wise.  It’s also about this time of year where I give

Two more days left of 2016, and it has been quite an eventful year. In the latter half of this year, I not only finished my degree but have taken a somewhat, though not wholly, unexpected turn in my plans, career wise.  It’s also about this time of year where I give myself a self-audit regarding where I am, where I want to be and how I plan to get there. Don’t worry I am not going to drop everything and start backpacking around Asia or something. Travelling is simply not feasible…yet.  The other reason is that I would rather spend the money on my kit for Viking re-enactment.

I knew from the age of around 15 that I wanted to do something involving writing.  Sadly, I allowed my parents and teachers discourage me.  To cut a long boring story short, I am getting another crack at the whip. When I began my studies in February of 2011, I had my heart set on teaching History in a classroom setting. I got keener as I progressed but in the last year or so I have been considering my Plan B options: Open University grading policy has meant that my results were not what I needed them to be to get on to any of the training courses. I had certainly not seen myself as a self-employed Freelancer I cannot say that it wasn’t a disappointment because the same results from a ‘brick’ university would have got me a 2:1 or even a first, but what’s done is done.  I still managed it while looking after 3 kids, so yay me.  I am sure my sleep patterns will recover soon, and this (theoretically) lets me off taking my maths GCSE. Again (shudder). That said, I am thinking of taking it anyway just so I have that apparently necessary C that I have managed quite happily without for the last 16 years. I am yet to find a practical use, in my field, for knowing how to calculate the area of a circle.

A suggestion from a fellow editor made me give editing and proofreading a go and I am glad I took him up on his advice.  I love it and have since set myself up as a freelancer. This means I have the freedom to set my own hours.  It has also taught me that I not only need to learn when to stop working and think about something else for a while but actually do it. Looks like I have a New Year’s resolution to keep for next year. I am feeling extremely positive about this new direction.  It’s a teaching role (of sorts), just the one I was expecting and I will get to use all my skills.

NaNoWriMo was an eye-opener, to say the least.  I gave it a good shot, but I then ended up with a beta-read that I couldn’t turn down.  Next year I’m going to make sure I schedule enough time to do my own writing. I have an idea lined up but I have a strict ‘no spoilers’ rule.  It will give me plenty of time to finish the first draft of this month’s, edit and get it ready for publishing. I’m really excited about this too.  NaNoWriMo gave me the boot up the bum to make a real start on it. The Densewords ‘Readworthy Fiction’ course (available via Udemy) is also proving to be a massive help where printed writers’ guides were not. I would recommend it to any author.

Finally, 2017 will be the year I get my driving license.  I have procrastinated for long enough.  I will be 36 in April and have decided that now it’s time to stop being a massive wussy and do it.

To-do-List for 2017.

  • Finish first-draft of my first novel, (for publishing in December 2017)
  • Learn to drive
  • Retake maths (yuck)
  • Learn when to stop.

Call to action!

What are your top four priorities for 2017?

Advertisements

Graduation Day


Well, that’s it. After 5 years I have graduated from the Open University, and it has been one hell of a ride.  I began in earnest in 2011, after deciding that what I really wanted more than anything else was a career in teaching.  The enormous support and encouragement from my husband also helped me keep going, especially in those moments when I was disappointed over a grade, or the workload was battling with other responsibilities (3 kiddos, moving twice etc). I have made more than a few self discoveries about my own abilities. The most important realisation has been that I cannot let others set my horizons for me.  I will no longer allow others to tell me what I am, or am not, capable of before I have even had the chance to try.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t come up against some opposition to both my choice to take an OU degree and my desire to become a teacher. Reasons ranged from, “It’ll be hard” (as if that was ever a good reason not to do something), “but teaching doesn’t pay much” (teaching is a calling, not a money spinner,) and “But it’s not like a real degree from a proper university?” (I have really lost count of how many times I have explained that the OU is a ‘proper’ university, and it’s actually harder to get a passing grade.). Despite this, I think at least in part due to a healthy dose of belligerence and general bloody-minded determination to have my own way, I completed it.   Right, that’s the griping done: I studied, I learned, I gave up sleep and developed a caffeine addiction (okay, MORE of a caffeine addiction).

This morning I woke up with the jitters. I’m talking mutant butterflies here people! The stress of the lying google maps app, which fails to mention road works and sends you on a random route round the diversions, hadn’t helped but we arrived in one piece and on time. Managed to race through check in, explained that we had to bring our 3 year old because the nursery was closed that day due to training, for which they were highly sympathetic and gave us an extra refreshment voucher. Kudos to OU for being family friendly.

Next up was robes, pictures, and yes, more queuing. This is the point where it actually did begin to feel real.  I had done this. Despite kids, and despite life, I had worked my socks off and actually achieved something (big drum roll here), and I wasn’t beating myself up about it.  I deserved to be there. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t cringing for the official photo. If my grandad and parents hadn’t wanted one, I wouldn’t have gone for it. I even managed a smile. (Those who know me, know my feelings about photos of me.  Lets just say I am happier at the other end of the lens).

Being around ‘people’ in large numbers has never been one of my happy places so the prospect of getting on stage in front of a large number of people that I did not know was not an idea I was relishing.  I just fixed my eye on Sean and Henry, and tried to ignore the rest of the audience.  That said, I managed to queue by the stage for my diploma, collect it, cross the stage and get back to my seat without falling on my face/off the stage/both without social anxiety kicking in and freaking out.

The speech form the now honorary doctor of the university, was highly informative and very moving and I encourage you to watch it here. It’s the Birmingham 2016 one but it’s not up just yet. If you follow the comments for this post, I can let you know when its up.