Stop hiding

15 Mar

It’s time I faced some uncomfortable truths.

My eldest child was born eight years ago this week and I have been a stay-at-home-mother ever since.  I like to think I am good at my job.  My children are still in possession of all their fingers at toes, they mostly sleep through the night and occasionally manage to wee in the loo.   Of course I have my fair share of mothers’ guilt.  They watch too much TV and eat too many sweets, and I spend too much time on Twitter, but on the whole I think I do a good job.

It’s nice being good at my job.  It’s a comfortable place to be.  So why am I feeling so uncomfortable right now?

I’ve always said that would keep doing this job until they start school then find something else to keep me employed between 9 and 3.  Every couple of years I had another child, thus postponing the day of reckoning for a while, then I had the brilliant wheeze of travelling around the world… Eight years since Eve was born, I am still a stay-at-home-mum, with another year or so to go.  Another year or so doing a job I like and am good at.

A little over year go I started this blog.  At first it was meant to simply be a record of our trip.  But as I tapped out post after post, a deeply buried love of writing pushed it’s way to the surface until it became a physical need, to blurt the words in my head onto the screen.  And as my love of writing blossomed, so people started to read.  And say nice things.  Some of which I even believe.

So.  In a eureka moment a few months ago, I realised that what I wanted to do more than anything was be paid to write.  It would be the perfect career for me.  I’d still be able to be around for the children and could fit work in around them.  I could do it from home.  I wouldn’t have any overheads to speak of, so it wouldn’t matter how much work I get.  We can carry on much the same as normal, but I might get to do some work at the same time.

OK, do you see what I did there?  I am already talking myself out of it, preparing myself to fail.  I can say I’m a writer, but it doesn’t matter if anyone pays me, because whatever I earn is a bonus, right?  Well, not right, actually.  Why don’t I believe I’ll be a success?  Other people earn a living from writing.  Why not me?

I’ve probably always been a pretty good writer, but I’m not sure I’ve ever believed it.  I didn’t believe my slightly mad English teacher when she told me I wrote the best essays in the class.  Well she was slightly mad wasn’t she?  I didn’t believe it after a year spent writing newsletters.  The subject matter was dull, but I became very good at writing to deadline and word count.  But that’s not proper writing is it, it’s not very creative?  I didn’t believe it after a couple of years as a researcher, when I condensed lengthy documents into snappy one page reports using words of minimal syllables.  But that’s not writing, that’s editing.

For the last year I’ve been writing almost every day.  And I’m starting to realise that I was quite good at it all along.  Not only that, but I have learnt valuable skills needed by paid writers.  I understand deadlines, I understand word counts, I understand how to communicate complicated ideas simply.  People say they like to read what I write.  And while I know that the world of blogging is cosy and friendly, and not all the nice comments might be honest, enough people have said enough nice things, that I really do believe them.  Well some of them.

So what’s my problem?  My problem is that I’m good at being a stay-at-home-mother.  It’s a role I feel comfortable with.  I don’t yet know if I’m a good freelance writer.  Wouldn’t it be easier to stay in the job I’m good at rather than risk failing at the job I haven’t tried?  I don’t like phoning strangers, I don’t like selling myself, I don’t really like getting out there and meeting new people.  If I don’t like these things, then I’m not going to like being a freelance writer, because they are all part of the job.   But, and this is a big but, because I don’t like them, I try and avoid them.  Maybe if I phoned more strangers, sent people pitches for work, got out there and met new people in a professional setting, I might find that it’s not as bad as I imagine.  I might actually grow to like it.  And what the worst that can happen?  I can’t get anyone to pay me to write.  Well no one’s paying me to write now.

Anyway, surely this is all a moot point.  I’m going to continue being a stay-at-home-mother until they’ve all started school, until we’ve returned from our trip.  Then I’ll have the time to get a job.  Then I’ll do this.  At some point in the future.  Nice and far away.  Except, *whispers* I actually have quite a lot of time now.  Dickon is at nursery every single morning.   The children often watch TV after school.  I don’t go out in the evenings more than about once a week.  And I have other things going for me.  I am in mummo mag, published this week.  I’ve contributed to a lot of other websites over the last year, some of them with a big readership.  I’ve got the time, I know I can write, I’ve got a handful of contacts.  Perhaps I should stop making excuses.  Stop putting it off.  Give it a try.  Take action instead of talking.  Start now.

Do you promise to give me a good kick up the arse if I go back on my word?

This week Josie asked me “What excuses are you hiding behind at the moment?”


37 Responses to “Stop hiding”

  1. TheMadHouse 15/03/2010 at 5:56 pm #

    I would love to read more, in fact I am activly looking forward to your trip to read what you have been upto and to see the world through the eyes of you and your children

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/03/2010 at 5:58 pm #

      Thank you, that means a lot. I love reading other travel blogs, so hopefully other people will enjoy reading mine!

  2. Vic 15/03/2010 at 6:59 pm #

    Start now and get someone to take on something related to the trip.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/03/2010 at 8:27 pm #

      that’s the idea…

    • Josie @Sleep is for the Weak 15/03/2010 at 8:59 pm #

      You really, really should do this. I don’t know who you’d need to talk to but I think this is something SERIOUSLY to consider. Your trip holds so much potential and you are proving your writing ability over and over here. DO it… (and I will leave another less bossy comment further down…)

  3. anna 15/03/2010 at 7:20 pm #

    Totally. Now is the time to line up articles from your trip, for free if necessary to build up the portfolio. Looking forward to reading all about it here!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/03/2010 at 8:28 pm #

      Thank you, obviously I’d rather be paid! However payment in swanky hotel rooms is fine by me.

  4. New Mummy 15/03/2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Go for it hun, I’ve had to same realisation as you, maybe I can actually get paid for writing.

    I’m writing as a freelance for a review site and I made my first pitch last week for a magazine article and it was accepted, if I can do it then you can, we all have faith in you x

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/03/2010 at 8:29 pm #

      Well done you, I’m so pleased for you. Go bloggers turned freelancers!

  5. laura Driver 15/03/2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Like the Mad House I can’t wait for you to go away and read all about your travels.

    I love to read what you write. You can definitely do it, now get on with it, go forth and earn some money from it!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/03/2010 at 8:30 pm #

      Thank you, I love your writing so a compliment from you means a lot.

  6. Jennifer 15/03/2010 at 8:51 pm #

    I, too, love reading what you write. Definitely go for it!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/03/2010 at 8:58 pm #

      Thank you.

  7. newdaynewlesson 15/03/2010 at 9:00 pm #

    Your writing is good and your trip will be intereting. Def do something with it!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/03/2010 at 2:37 pm #

      thank you

  8. Josie @Sleep is for the Weak 15/03/2010 at 9:05 pm #

    I feel like I am in no position to judge you. My whole life is one big excuse for why I’m not writing ‘properly’ (instead of just p*ssing about on the blog, oh and doing my course… I mean a novel I guess or proper poetry). It’s always “I’m too tired” or “I haven’t got enough time”. There is going to come a point at which those excuses run out for me. If you feel like you’re there? Then go for it. You have so many people behind you and you CAN do it, you are proving that with everything you do. I shall be back here waving my ‘go Victoria’ flag just for starters xx

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/03/2010 at 2:37 pm #

      You’re not pissing about on your blog. All this came about because I did Linda Jones’ training course on Saturday. She pointed out to me what an asset my blog is in selling myself so I decided that it was time to seize the moment. Everything you do on your blog is useful, and on your course. Your time will come. You’re not in the same position as me, you have a very small child, you hope to have more, you’re not 100% healthy at the moment. When the time comes, you’ll know. Then I’ll be there waving MY flag x

  9. Itsamummyslife 15/03/2010 at 9:10 pm #

    Hey stalker here! Sorry been unable to stalk for a while due to tecnical issues. Right you are a bloody brilliant writer which is why you have a stalker. Do it it’s meant to be. You will get freelance work, you have a great blog and clearly understand how to write commercially too. Why shouldn’t it work for you? It works fir people not half as good as you. Believe it it’s true.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/03/2010 at 2:35 pm #

      Thank you for being so encouraging.

  10. Linda 16/03/2010 at 9:48 am #

    Aha! Hello – so…..get on with it! 🙂
    Stop hiding. Often it is those with the least confidence who have the greatest talent. I don’t actually think 100 per cent that you will now hate meeting new people if those new people are ones who can help you do something you love, they will tell you the same as your teacher and the same as I have, that your writing is fabulous, you can learn the other stuff easily and just imagine how your heart will swell when your pieces appear in well-read publications and people let you know how great they are. Don’t wait around any longer you can do it and you can do it brilliantly. I look forward to reading about your success, take it one step at a time and….start with the marmalade. xxx

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/03/2010 at 2:33 pm #

      Thank you Linda, for egging me on on Saturday, for giving me lots to think about, for your contacts, for unwittingly causing me to question where my life is going. Thank you.

  11. Brit In Bosnia 16/03/2010 at 10:06 am #

    What is that alleged Goethe quote?

    “Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. ”

    Says it all I think. x

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/03/2010 at 2:31 pm #

      Perfect, thank you!

  12. Heather 16/03/2010 at 10:19 am #

    I love your writing and you blog and am very excited to read about your travels – i am sure you can do this, stop hiding and start doing!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/03/2010 at 2:31 pm #

      Thank you. Perhaps we can support each other?

  13. angelsandurchinsblog 16/03/2010 at 11:24 am #

    Go for it. Set yourself some time aside to write every single day (separate to blogging) and make yourself do it. Draw up a list of contacts, and work out what they might actually need (trying to change their publication usually doesn’t work, but suggesting something within their existing format might). Good luck!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/03/2010 at 2:30 pm #

      Thank you. I think I’m going to set myself a weekly target of x number of things to write, follow up, research etc and see how I go from there.

  14. Paula 16/03/2010 at 5:32 pm #

    You said already that you write every day, so you’re committed. You’re obviously talented and passionate about it and you have the desire to make it work.

    You already have your blog as a mini portfolio, it’s the perfect platform….

    Go for it!


    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 18/03/2010 at 11:49 am #

      Thank you. I don’t think of my daily writing as a commitment, I just do it because I enjoy it, but you’re right. I’d rather write than put on a wash, so why not do it properly?

  15. Mummy Mania 16/03/2010 at 5:54 pm #

    You are in a similar place to me — and my advice is GO FOR IT! I dibble and dabble in paid writing – in the hope that when my brood finally go to school, I’ll be able to crank it up and get stuck in on a more serious manner. That said, I find the thought of it very very frightening. But then any new job is. You’re good at what you do now, and always will be. A little branching out will be a test, – an approach here, a phonecall there – nothing to get your blood pressure up, but maybe enough to give you some confidence and a footing so that when you do start ‘properly’ it won’t be such a big leap. Good luck!! You can do it!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 18/03/2010 at 11:50 am #

      Thank you, I’ve already put my toe in the water, sent a couple of speculative emails this week. Nothing come of it so far, but you know what? It really wasn’t that hard. I’m sure if I keep trying I’ll get there in the end…

  16. Trish@ Mum's Gone to 18/03/2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Hi Victoria
    This could be me writing this post! I left my job to bring up my son. He is now 14 and I’m still at home, faffing about with the blog and not wanting to return to the proper world of work.
    I do publicity for the amateur dramatic group I’m part of, yet hate the bit where I have to ask people for sponsorship/adverts yet love the bit where I send copy to the local paper and they print it just as I’ve typed it.
    My blog is travel related and I sometimes sit and think it would be nice to write travel reviews. But no-one is really going to approach me just because I write a few posts about family holidays. Yet I still sit here and do nothing proactive.
    I know exactly how you feel. Yet you now have a golden opportunity to make something of your trip. Don’t waste it.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 18/03/2010 at 3:29 pm #

      I’ve always hated applying for jobs anyway, but now being in the position of not having worked for years, it seems to feel harder. But I’m going to stop focussing on how hard it’ll be and just get on with it.

  17. EmmaK 18/03/2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Yes!! Go for it! I know what you mean about phoning people though scary stuff. I would just start writing articles for free first for internet parenting sites or even free for print magazines. Then you will at least have some cuttings to show when you go after the paid gigs.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 19/03/2010 at 4:10 pm #

      Thank you. I’ve already done some free stuff, now I want money!

  18. Deer baby 19/03/2010 at 5:34 pm #

    Good for you – I say go for it!! I think you write wonderfully well. Don’t sell yourself short – don’t do any more things for free. I’ve been freelance for almost a decade now – slogged it out on a journalism post grad, 7 years at the BBC, and then freelance. Not to pour cold water on you but it can be really hard. I could never be the main breadwinner. I’ve just had loads of work cut thanks to the BBC online sites reducing. Loads of my contacts have moved on/magazines folded.
    But I’ve seen what you write travel wise and I still think you should go for it. You read all Linda Jones’ great tips I’m sure don’t you? The upcoming trip is the perfect thing to hang it on.

  19. itsasmallworldafterallfamily 20/03/2010 at 11:55 am #

    Thank you. I know it won’t be easy. My brother works for a broadsheet and he said that almost all the online content is now written by staffers rather than freelancers as was the case a couple of years ago. (So no work even for his sister!) But, I am in the lucky postition of not needing to be the main breadwinner, so I’m going to give it my best shot, and see how I get on.

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