I wasn't blogging two years ago, but if I were I would have been writing about my forthcoming job interview. At the time I was working full time in the NHS, in a fairly senior, clinical, role, in a service that was under a good deal of pressure. I had always written, and had taken evening classes at Birkbeck College here in London, but was struggling to find the space in my life that I felt writing deserved. At work the hours were long, and I never really stopped thinking about the job, so while I did snatch an hour here or there to push on with the novel I had been writing since 2006, progress was frustratingly slow, and for some time that frustration had been turning into a real unhappiness. I was becoming snappy, irritable and difficult to live with, and all my relationships were suffering.
I’d decided it couldn’t go on. Did I want to be a writer, or manage an NHS service? I was on a fast track to one while claiming to want the other, and it was time to make a choice. I’d applied for another job, much more junior but, crucially, part time. If I got it I would see my wages halve overnight but would have an extra two days a week completely free to write, as well as less stress to stop me from doing so on the other five. I was (and am) incredibly lucky to have a wonderfully supportive partner and together we decided we would cope with the financial implications of a move if it meant I could do what I wanted to do with my life. The interview was scheduled for September.
I was successful, and as soon as I handed in my notice I knew I had done the right thing. A weight lifted and finally I felt able to see the way I wanted my writing to go. The project I was working on felt too much like a part of an old me and within a couple of weeks I abandoned it. I felt free, positive that I was doing the right thing. I began to scout around for ideas for another novel, and in fact stumbled across much more than that. I found an advert for The Faber Academy. One of the courses was called ‘Writing a Novel from Start to Finish’, and it started a month after my new job would begin. It was perfect, I thought, and would allow me to really focus on writing for the whole of 2009. I realized I had another application to make.