Going it alone
This week is a momentous week. I have officially handed in my notice. I have quit my job.
I leave on 30th April.
For the first time in my adult life, I won’t have a regular salary. I won’t have paid leave or sick pay either. Gulp.
And all because I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to sell words. I want to write for a living.
Going it alone is a big decision for anyone. But for me, a single dad with a mortgage the size of a small country’s national debt and two kids with expensive appetites, it is a huge decision. With a lot to lose, I am taking a gamble.
So why am I doing it?
The short answer is because I want to. I have always dreamed of being an author. My first novel, Six Months to Get a Life, was published in January. During the course of writing that book, I well and truly got the bug. Whether it’s freelancing for newspapers, writing short stories for magazines or making my fortune as the next David Nicholls or Lisa Jewell, I don’t mind. What I do know is that I am meant to write.
Having dipped my toe in the water, I can no longer bare corporate life. I don’t want someone else telling me what to do. I can’t pretend anymore that I give a toss whether the new budget is profiled correctly or the performance report completed on time. I am sick of marking time.
I also want my children to follow their dreams. If I can’t follow mine then what sort of a role model can I be to my boys? I am not sure my boys quite get it yet, but as I told them over dinner last night, I would prefer to be poorer and happy than being financially secure and bored stiff. You only get one life after all. ‘Can we play on the Xbox now,’ was their response.
With my new life as a self-employed entrepreneur / full-time writer starting in May, it isn’t actually the financial aspect of my decision to leave corporate gobbledygook behind that’s worrying me the most. Instead, what I am losing sleep over is not being able to have the impromptu conversation with work colleagues about last night’s episode of Eastenders. Or about the reported sighting of my boss out on the town with Paula from accounts. I will miss the banter at the water cooler.
In short, I am worried that life as a self-employed writer will be ever so slightly lonely.
I love writing, but if my day just consists of getting up, seeing the boys off to school, sitting at my laptop and writing until the boys come home again, then making their tea, doing the washing up, the washing, the ironing, supervising homework, breaking up fights and ushering errant children to bed, then I would go quietly mad.
I thrive on adult company. I can’t go a day without communicating with other people. My boys don’t count. They are teenagers so communication doesn’t come naturally to them.
The only time in my life when I really felt lonely before was when I stayed at home for two days a week to look after my boys when they were toddlers. By the end of the second day, I would catch myself yelling at the Teletubbies to speak proper English. Going back to work was a godsend. If I had had to do three days at home with the boys then social services may have been required to pay me a visit.
Because I fear the social isolation that could result from my decision to go it alone as a self-employed writer, over the next few weeks I’ll be giving a lot of thought to how I as an author can stay sane whilst writing. I might try writing in public places. I love a coffee. Maybe Costa would sponsor me? I don’t need a clay pot particularly but I might do the obligatory middle class pottery class just to get me out of the house. Anything to break up the day.
In addition to physically meeting people, I have already embraced the opportunities that online networking can bring. I have made some good friends via twitter. The authors and readers that I meet online keep me sane. Connections such as these benefit my business too.
I shouldn’t admit to it here, but I hate the word ‘networking’. I don’t network. I talk to people. Successive managers in my former life would nag me to network more. I used to think they were talking bollocks. Generally they were, but lately, with my new life looming, I have realised the value of networking. It keeps me sane, and it will help me develop my new venture.
Anyone fancy a coffee?
Ben Adams is the author of ‘Six Months to Get a Life’, the not autobiographical at all tale of Graham Hope, a man coming to terms with divorce. Will Graham get over his ex? Will he adapt his dad role, will he form new friendships? More importantly, will he ever have sex again?