I caught a taxi over London Bridge on Thursday and went right past my old office. It was like a regression – like remembering a past life (in this case not the kind where you discover you were Cleopatra with grape-feeding slaves but the kind where you find out you were the grape-feeding slave). And the grin almost tore my cheeks in two.

I still pinch myself regularly trying to believe that this is my life now. No more 9-5, no more commute, no more tube. No more going to meetings in heels to make myself look grown up and pretending like I knew what I was talking about and going cross eyed as civil servants pronounced on riveting stuff like digital inclusion. No more having to performance review people or fire them (though I have to say I do miss that last one). I recently re-read a post I did four days before resigning and it made me cringe at all the lost hours I’d spent at tossery events called unconferences.  But it also made me proud of the old me for having the guts to leave (both the unconferences and head to the pub and to actually leave my job and the UK). I’m the poorest I’ve  ever been but also the happiest.

Earlier in the day I had been to Simon & Schuster with my agent to meet my publisher. I hadn’t given it much thought other than slapping on a pair of heels and some lipstick in an effort to look professional (it’s been a while and even back in the day it was quite a task – my feet are still in shock). So when I walked into the room and saw the champagne on the table and the eight glasses I wondered if I was interrupting something – some important meeting. I even thought to myself ‘oooh what a fabulous job publishing must be – you can sit and read books all day whilst drinking pink champagne, maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty about moving to Bali, there is no champagne there afterall and books are squeamishly expensive’ until I realized the champagne was for me. And a whole lovely roomful of people appeared to say hello (and did I mention they were all extremely LOVELY and also extremely stylish, witty, fun and brilliantly intelligent along with that?). Then they gave me a pile of books and my happiness was all complete. It was like supermarket sweep, only with bookshelves and no Dale Winton. It was about as exciting as getting a book deal in itself. Free books! And champagne!

Before that I’d been to my agent’s office and seen the towering pile of submission manuscripts on the desk and it made me realize how big the odds are to make it to a room with pink champagne.

And somehow, with the help of Alex Skarsgard and an overactive imagination I made it. For that I am grateful.

Ps. My husband helped too. For that I am grateful!

pps. I suppose what I mean to say in this post is something that I saw written on a park bench yesterday and which I saw as a sign (I’m seeing signs everywhere – I’m like M. Night Shyamalan). It said:

He who seeks dreams will dance into tomorrow, igniting passions and capturing hearts.

Seek dreams people.

9 thoughts on “I am a writer. It’s official. And that’s way more fun than working in the voluntary sector.

  1. Singh says:

    Well done, I am very happy for you. Here I am with a PhD in molecular biology in the UK and cant find a decent job. All I can muster is a part time job. Any ideas for me.

    1. boublog says:

      That sucks. Am really sorry to hear that. The UK really seems to be a difficult place right now for a lot of people and it would be for me too if I had stayed. The voluntary sector will be hit very hard. I really hope I didn’t come across as trite. I am the poorest I have ever been right now, with no more pension and no savings left but at the same time I’m also the happiest and most confident I’ve ever been that the future is going to be fine.

      And there’s no way I could just be a writer if I stayed in the UK – the money is meagre. I would have to work a 9-5 job too, if I could find one. Living somewhere cheaper means I can write full time which is what I dreamed of doing. When we left I was trying to find a way for that to be viable and because we could see the writing (no pun intended) on the wall. John too has found lots of ex-colleagues in London (in the design world) are being made redundant. However in Singapore which has a strong economy they are crying out for Western experience so he’s tapped into that. I’m not sure if molecular biology is what you want to do – is it? Or if you feel you need to stay in the UK but my advice would be to leave if you can – but that’s just me. I found the world opened up with opportunities when we left (and I did want to live somewhere hot). We had hundreds of business ideas when we were in India and in Bali, a couple of which we’ll be trying to get off the ground when we’re back.

  2. tanya says:

    I know it is only (partly) in jest, but how can you dismiss all the amazing work you did, making the lives of thousands of refugees and their families better?

    I like to see life in the Hindu way (or something) where it is stages – in the Hindu thing it is scholar, soldier, family man, sage (or something). But for me, it is that different times of life are for different things. e.g. coming to Switzerland can feel somewhat self-indulgent – what am doing for the starving masses (Zoetrust seems such a drop in the ocean)? But other times in my life I have been more active, and hopefully will be in future.

    Anyway, all this to say that you did – and you know you did – amazing work at Timebank – and personally I don’t think you should sneeze at it, even in jest. and you did know what you were talking about!

    a bit of a Sunday morning rant – but trust you know what I mean!!!!

    all love, Tanya

    1. boublog says:

      thanks Tanya. Yes I’m being facetious. I think by the end of my time at TB I was just very tired and disillusioned. You know they’ve just cut the funding to TT? Then actually I saw a woman in peckham the other day with someone who could have been a refugee and I wondered if they were a time together mentoring pair and it did make me feel proud. There were amazing times in my life when we were doing things which made a huge impact. I suppose by the end I saw a lot of money wasting too and ridiculous government policies made up by policy people with no on the ground experience and it was hugely frustrating. I guess, like many in that sector, it’s easy to burn out.

      Ideally I’d love to take a break from that world and come back to it when I’m more empowered to make change. And I hope through my books I can do some of that too with the themes I’m starting to write about (at the moment I’m writing a book about a world where people are taught to hate the other – a reflection on my TT days). And Zoe Trust is more than a drop in the ocean. I think if you can change one person’s path and make their life better that’s enough.

      thanks though for the reminder. It’s massively appreciated. And the people at TimeBank are still doing great things with ever limited resources.
      all love back,

  3. annelie says:

    hi there,

    Firstly a huge CONGRATULATIONS!

    Just reading your most recent blog put a big fat smile on my face.

    I am the girl who e-mailed you when you were half way through your trip asking for tips on the best places travel with a three year old etc…(maybe you remember) Anyway we’re now almost officially off. We’re heading to the Costa rican jungle to live in a community! Help! Yes, this is where the adventure starts. I am Natural Medicine Expert and have this little show on Channel 4 on nautral remedies and am basically taking my family on a trip to discover more remedies, recipes etc… Also this is a quest much like yourself to potentially find a new home, career ( for my husband mostly) and just to put our beautiful daughter into the REAL WORLD! Oh and we’re also heading to Bali in April to see some friends who are sure we’ll love it! ( maybe we might even meet)

    Anyway i wanted to ask you how you got the article about your trip in to Grazia. I have website with a blog and eventually products that i’d really to promote and thought this might be a great bit of free marketing. We do have someone in Australia doind an article but would be great to have some followers this side of the pond. Any info, tips etc.. would be greatly appreciated.

    Congrats again and look forward to hearing more….

    1. boublog says:

      wow how exciting. It sounds like with a channel 4 show you won’t need much more promotion! well done yourself. And costa rica is one of the places i wished we’d manged to fit in. maybe in CWlH part 2! Would love to meet you when you come to Bali. Try to make it at the start of the month for the bali spirit festival. it’s great.

      Grazia actually picked up the feature i wrote in the Guardian and approached me direct. In terms of pitching it’s really difficult and I’m not an expert at all. What’s your website by the way? I’d love to have a read. Also I’m not so sure that newspaper/magazine articles do a huge amount in terms of boosting numbers over the long term. i think links to sites and good tagging do more. But i’m no SEO expert either. Though I plan to pay someone to do some SEO for me. Specific articles on well trafficked sites seem to do more.

      Good luck with your adventures – I hope they are as wonderful as ours have been.

  4. Singh says:

    Thank you for your comment. I am seriously thinking of taking a hike. But I lack Ideas. I dont mind living in India with a 11% growth in economy, its a place to be. But then I lack business ideas.

    1. boublog says:

      India’s amazing. but beware the six month visa rule (then 2 months out before you can come back). For ideas on what to do check out the art of nonconformity, the 4 hour work week and Fuck it: the ultimate spiritual way. Also careershifters.org has a good downloadable careershifter programme. also once you’re in a place, it’s a lot easier to find ideas / gaps in the market.

  5. pblax says:

    Rather uncanny that my bff came across your blog when looking up stuff to check out in Ubud. And my sister loaned me her book that she thought I might like called ‘The art of non-conformity”. At the same time I had been listening to The four hour work week audiobook.

    And whilst reading your older posts I see your above comment…sitting in a villa in Bali during a week-long holiday. Uncanny or serendipity?

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