How do you Answer The Question: “So, what do you do?”

You’ve been making small talk, cranking the conversation generator, and maybe it seemed to run for a minute or two but then it stuttered and stalled. You are standing talking to a complete stranger and the worst thing ever is about to happen: lurking at the end of the next sentence is a moment of unbearable, awkward silence. One or other of you will be called upon to do the inevitable, one of you is going to have to pull the cord. You take a sip of your drink, you survey the room. The silence has descended, as you knew it would. Then one of you asks: so, what do you do? Continue reading


A Day in the Life of a Free Workerbee

Image by Wagaboy on flickr

I had a jolt of realisation the other day when it struck me that I have been out of work for three months. Three whole months! Somehow I had thought that the time would pass more slowly because my days would be constructed of more parts — not just wake, work, sleep — but would also be filled with more variety and therefore pass more like a joyful pageant than the perfunctory flicking on and off of a TV screen. Of course I remember that my annual leave from work always used to flit by in a flash of exuberance, feeling more like a vivid daydream, a hallucinated trance, than a restorative rest from work. But I thought this more permanent state of “holiday” — a vacation from work as I knew it — would feel less ephemeral, more concrete, more purposeful.

When viewed from my desk during my final weeks in law, the prospect of so much free time seemed impossibly, almost dauntingly expansive. What could I do to fill all that time? Wouldn’t I get bored? And lonely? Since leaving my job other people have asked me the same questions and I see the disbelief in their eyes. What have you been up to?, they ask. What on Earth could you have been doing all day?, their eyes say. Or maybe not, maybe they are just making polite conversation. Maybe I’m projecting my insecurity that everyone thinks I’m a waster. This is the valley of doubt.

The thing is, now that I’ve been at it for three months, I can see exactly where the time goes. Continue reading

Novel Challenge Update: Holy Sh!t, I did it!

@peddhapati on flickr

OhmygodIdidit. I wrote a novel in one month. I haven’t written fiction since I was at school (not counting some of those legal memos…) and somehow I wrote a whole novel in 31 days, less actually. This must be what it feels like to have a superpower.

It’s not that I didn’t think I could do it. It’s that I didn’t think I would do it. It’s a weird forward-looking / backward-looking thing: I didn’t see myself as an old lady looking back on a life that included having written a novel at 30.

It has opened up a whole new world for me — one in which I really can do anything I set my mind to. Truth is, this world exists for all of us, it’s just that some people are out there doing stuff and the rest of us are too busy to join them. Continue reading

Blue Tuesday

Blue Tuesday

This week I discovered the hard way that happiness and frivolity does not automatically fill the vacuum left by quitting your job. I thought about whether I should write this post but then I remembered my promise of being honest and giving a real picture of what it’s like to leave the working world. It’s not all skipping across Hampstead Heath with the wind in your hair (although I have done that too), and I feel a duty to give it to you straight, so here it goes… Continue reading

All About the Word Count

All About the Word Count

When I started the project, it was fully my intention to give periodic updates during my January novel-writing challenge. I envisioned posts on plot development, canvassing for ideas, crowdsourcing character names. But it turns out that just writing the novel itself is pretty all-consuming. If I’m honest, I just didn’t have the energy to blog about it as well. Only now, when I feel I’ve gotten far enough up the hill so there is actually something to see when I look behind me, do I feel like I can pause for breath and talk about how it’s going. Continue reading

A Novel Approach

A Novel Approach

It’s Day 7 of my January challenge to write a novel in a month and it has become painfully obvious that I have bitten off way more than I can chew. This is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done.

I never understood before what people meant when they said that they didn’t enjoy the “writing process”. I love writing! (I thought) Why are they trying to be writers if they don’t like writing? (I scoffed) More fool me. Continue reading

Writer Be Free

Writer Be Free

2014 is here! Time to make good on the promises I’ve been making myself and follow-through on my grand exit from my job in November. If I’m not going to be a lawyer, what am I going to be? That’s a difficult question which I’m content to leave unresolved for now. In the meantime, if I can’t figure out what I’m going to be, I can at least focus on the marginally less daunting question of what I am going to do this month. This will be my first project as an un/self-employed, newly freed workerbee, so I want to make it a good one. Continue reading