I want to break free!

I’ve had an emotionally challenging week.

I work full time for a large company who are currently restructuring, department by department. I live in Sheffield. The company has decided to move our department (just the department, not the office) to Derby. At the end of last year, I thought I would be made redundant after Christmas. I’ve been given a reprieve for a year and allowed to keep my company car. We’ve continued to work from our Sheffield office now but next week, we move to Derby. That means a much longer commute for me. At least the company are paying for the petrol. And I’m not the only person being massively inconvenienced by this arbitrary move, when we could all do our jobs just as well, for 90% of the time, anywhere with a broadband connection and a mobile phone signal.

I knew this was happening, so why did I have such an emotional reaction this week when I found out about the move? I’m from Derby originally and my parents still live there, so in some ways I feel, deep-down, that this is a move backwards, a regression into the geographical territory where I grew up, through tough times with bullying and finding my own independence, until I was old enough to make my own choices and I chose to come to Sheffield to go to university. I loved it, which is why I’m still in Sheffield, with a partner, a house and a busy life away from work. I resent the control that my job exerts over my life. I’ve never got over the fact that this is a job I ended up in by accident, five years ago. Working for a big company isn’t “me”. But it’s been a steady job while I’ve got on with finishing my writing Masters degree, buying a house, publishing my first novel, volunteering for Oxfam and just living my life.

But since the news of the restructure hit me like a bombshell, I’ve been making a concerted effort to change my life, scouring job websites and spending long hours on applications and signing up with agencies. I’ll keep going. But I often wonder if I’m going to get anywhere; if I’m any good; if more community-based employers will look down on me for spending the last five years being “corporate”. Increasingly, I’ve been wondering about “breaking free”, somehow starting my own business, using my writing skills as my “trade”. And sometimes I fantasise about leaving everything behind, buying an old transit van and running away to a distant corner of the country. But I love my partner and I don’t think such a drastic course of action would go down very well with him!

In my life, reality and fiction are often blurred. That sounds like I’m a bit crazy, and maybe I am. Maybe I’m just a writer. A few weeks ago, I was planning a new chapter of my new novel and wondering if I could bring back two of the characters from my first novel for a “cameo” role! In Outside Inside, Miriam and Lil start their own fashion business, and I’m wondering whether to bring them back as stylists for a scene where my new main character, Kaz, is interviewed in the Guardian. This is the sort of thing that Thomas Hardy often did. Using his fictional county of Wessex, characters wander around as minor characters in other novels, or are mentioned in passing.

When I searched for more information about stylists on the internet, I came across a website called www.free-range-humans.com, which featured an interview with a stylist who had started her own business after years of working for companies as a PA, draining her confidence, until she finally found the courage to change her life. It was too much of a coincidence to ignore. Independence and earning my own income is what I want. My characters also find the courage to change their lives, although Miriam’s break for freedom from her office is a lot more dramatic! Sometimes it feels like the fictional people who live in my head are trying to teach me things. Maybe they are…




About the Random Notebook

Hello! I’ve been meaning to start this blog for two years. I set it up, then got scared because I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter. The whole point of The Random Notebook is to have fun, get some of my writing online and share things with the world.

I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pen. For as long as I can remember, I’ve kept a writer’s notebook. Most of the time, I carry around with me a notebook – no, not a computer, but the real thing: paper pages! So old fashioned, but so versatile. I’ve kept all of my notebooks. Sometimes I refer back to them years later. I think I do my best work in the pretty notebooks. At the moment, I’ve got a beautiful Accessorize notebook, spiral bound, hard-cover, with pictures of birds, squirrels and hedgehogs. Another memorable notebook was bought in Malaga airport and has a cartoon of a cow dressed as Elvis on the cover. A5 is the best size.

I use my notebooks for writing first drafts, ideas for chapters of my novels, stories and poems, but also for noting down things to do, important life-changing ideas, recipes, notes from training, plans, shopping lists, contact details, exercises, book recommendations and other things. A couple of years ago when we were buying a house, my notes on this overtook the creative stuff. I’m currently going through a period of career-change and I’m reading a lot of career-change books. I’m currently in the middle of reading ‘Be a free range human’ by Marianne Cantwell, and she has inspired me to actually start this blog.

So that’s what The Random Notebook is – a random collection of stuff, just like my notebooks! I hope you’ll enjoy the insight into a writer’s mind.

Lots of love,

Anne xxx

Things this blog is about…