My 6 month journey

18 02 2011

It’s been six months since I started this blog and things have changed quite a lot for me during this time. When I started writing I was a temporary contract worker then I lost my job suddenly and decided to take the leap into self employment. I was reading some of my early posts yesterday and the person writing them seems very different to the person I am today. I thought I’d do an update on where I am now.

Physically things are much the same. I still have a lot of pain from the Rheumatoid Arthritis and I continue to swallow the large amounts of anti inflammoties and Tramadol every day. I have been having fortnightly Humira injections and they have made a huge difference! They don’t help that much with the pain but they’ve enabled my brain and mind to become clearer again. I’m not bogged down with fatigue anymore and I’ve got my buzz back which is great. I still have to wake up hours before I need to leave home to be somewhere and my 4am alarms have become somewhat legendary in my circle. Even at 4am I’m buzzing around while others are still trying to remember their name! Let em moan I say! I love being up early and every day brings something new to enjoy.

An earlier post related to my joining a business networking group and I said I’d chosen that particular group in part because I would be the only person from my industry present. I think I still need to work on my fear of upsetting someone whose business is the same as mine when I need to compete against them for business but my confidence at public speaking has grown enormously. Last week I gave a ten minute presentation to 25 people and it didn’t really faze me. It’s hard to equate that with the person who was physically sick at the thought of speaking for 60 seconds just four months ago.

I’m actually starting to feel I need to challenge myself some more now socially. You may remember I posted about attending a Tweetup late last year to meet a bunch of people I’d met via Twitter? There’s another one coming up soon and I’m one of the organisers! I gave an interview to the local press about it as well! As well as that I’m hoping to set up a new networking group in my town. It’s only once a month but I’ll be hosting it in a local venue and finding people to come along. I hope this will come off as it’s something that I’m feeling excited about. We’ll have to wait and see.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some more great people on Twitter and in real life recently too. There are way too many to mention but you know who you are. The other networking group I didn’t join is called 4N and it’s MD is a guy called Brad Burton. He’s written two fantastic motivational books called “Get Off Your Arse” and they have been a great inspiration to me. I’ve felt really touched actually as I’ve come to get to know Brad and have been lucky enough to meet him too. A truly lovely bloke. I won’t say he’s a genius but like me, he’s bang on the ball and has real energy for business.

My bloke Bill continues to support me and is one of my biggest fans. He’s awesome. We’re both currently losing weight for our wedding in two months and obviously the Aspie dedication means I am sticking to the plan steadfastly. He wasn’t initially convinced of the whole diet idea but now he is loving it and has really embraced the idea! He spends his evenings with his head in Slimming World recipe books and most weekends he bakes. Last weekend he made Weetabix cake which I found natural yogurt complemented nicely. Yes I realise NT’s think that’s weird but I’m used to people thinking I’m weird by now! It’s probably fair to say that natural yogurt is my current food obsession as I eat it with most desserts. I’ll go off it soon no doubt as it’s been about a month now that I’ve eaten it most days!

Not everything has changed though. I still get anxious if I have to go somewhere new and need to know every last detail about the place first. As much as I’m going out more these days I still prefer the days when I don’t have to leave home or see anyone. There are days when I’d happily phone everyone yet other days where I actually fear the telephone. Recently someone commented that I was a very social person. I laughed because although I’m social in its context, I will always be reclusive by nature. I don’t fake being social when I’m out, I enjoy it but it does take energy to maintain and I have to recharge regularly with reclusive me time.

As I’ve been building my business I’ve realised I’m quite astute when it comes to spotting opportunities. When I’ve shared my ideas some people have said they think I’m “amazing” and “driven”. I’m rubbish at taking compliments anyway but I don’t think I’m amazing. I do realise not everyone thinks the same way as me but I honestly believe I do nothing that anyone else couldn’t do. I am surprised that many people don’t see opportunities which are obvious to me but perhaps that is an Aspergers gift. Maybe it is down to the fact our minds run at 100 miles an hour that means thing seem obvious because we’ve arrived at the conclusion quicker than others?

So thats my update. How has life been for you? Any highs or lows?

Speak soon x

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Business networking the Aspergers way!

2 12 2010

Recently I wrote a blog post about using social media to make new friends and build relationships when socialising in the ‘real world’ can be difficult for those of us with Aspergers. Yesterday business networking went virtual too when a BNI Chapter local to me (Croydon) held the world’s first ever ‘Tweet Meet’ – a BNI Breakfast networking meeting held entirely on Twitter! Minus the breakfast in my case though! I’m a member of the Redhill BNI Chapter and as soon as I heard this meeting was happening, I knew I wanted to be a part of it!

You can read the whole story here which also links to my business blog page. I thought it worthy of a mention on this blog too as I know many adults with Aspergers do set up their own business and may be wary of attending business networking events due to the anxiety and stress they invoke.

Whilst this was a very new way of holding the meeting and it only came about due to the snow we are experiencing in the UK right now, social media is set to take off in a much bigger way than it already has. There are already online forums which exist for businesses to join and build virtual relationships and these can be a great way to source suppliers or new business online. Twitter is phenomenal for business networking. I have met and got to trust lots of other business owners this way – I’ve even found new clients in people I have only met via Twitter. Facebook too has groups and you can search easily for a group or fan page which specialises in the sector you work or wish to do business with, where you will meet likeminded people.

It’s been said that people with Aspergers are natural Entrepreneurs but I know from experience that setting up your own business can be jolly scary for an Aspie used to the security of a permanent job. I went into business when I lost my last temporary contract in the summer. I had been daydreaming about being able to work from home but the fear of the unknown had stopped me pursuing my dream. Once I found myself jobless, it felt a much more natural time to ‘give it a go’. I was out of work anyway so had nothing to lose.

Business networking was the aspect of being self employed which scared me the most. However, I realised I needed to attend events as the more people I met, the higher the chances of making my business a success.  I looked around for groups to attend and settled on BNI which is a global organisation with groups in most towns and cities worldwide. I chose BNI because I knew that I would be the only social media business in my group. Attending the meetings is something we need to overcome the Aspergers anxiety to achieve but I think getting myself there and realising I had competition from other social media businesses would have been too much stress. Well, I don’t think, I know. I’ve been to this kind of meeting before and having to stand next to someone who runs the same type of business and state why yours is better than theirs to a client interested in the service is horrendous! I don’t like upsetting people and it feels like I’m running them down if I say this. I’d be useless on The Apprentice for that very reason!

The first time I went to a BNI meeting I was absolutely petrified. Honestly. I didn’t sleep much the night before and I was shaking like a leaf when I was travelling to the venue. As soon as I arrived, all the other members were so friendly and welcoming that my fears evaporated. This seems to be true of other BNI groups too from what I’ve seen. Certainly the group who held the Tweet Meet yesterday and BNI HQ staff who I have been in contact with since have been lovely. If you are an Aspie running your own business and are looking for a networking group to attend, I would recommend you try BNI if you have a local group and your sector is free. Once you are a member of a Chapter, you can visit other Chapters providing your sector is free. Luckily for me, when I approached the Croydon Chapter Director about joining their Tweet Meet, I was given permission as my sector was free in their Chapter.

So while online networking meetings are not yet the norm, you don’t have to be afraid of them. Grab a handful of courage and make the effort to go along. You never know, at some point in the not too distant future, these Tweet Meets may even become the preferred method of holding most of the meetings. I can’t see them ever completely replacing face to face networking but they could reduce the number of events you physically need to attend. If this is your dream too – go for it! Good luck!

 





Aspergers and social media: The social revolution!

17 11 2010

If you’re an Aspie too it’s very possible you find socialising difficult. You’ll associate social gatherings with the feelings of panic that always finds its way into your mind in the days leading up to the event and the immense difficulties of being someone interesting whilst in a large group.

In my younger days, inevitably I would find myself having to go along with my friends’ suggestion of a big night out and I could never understand why they would be so excited about it. In the 24 hours prior to going out, I would literally become engulfed in feelings of fear. Who would be there? What is the agenda for the evening? Where are we going? Will it be busy? Will I know everyone? Etc etc. If you’ve ever been involved in one of these large gatherings and experienced this anxiety, you’ll understand just how difficult it is to find reassurance from your NT friends. They never understand why you need to know all of this information. You’re asking them questions which they have never considered what the answers might be. Why do they care exactly what we’ll be doing? It’s all so much easier for them and they will just go along with the flow on the day.

When I found myself in these situations, I felt I had two choices to make when it came to socialising and making/keeping friends. Either I got involved with the social scene and made/kept friends or I stayed home alone. In my teens it used to bother me whether my friends stuck around so I would get involved and force myself to attend these arduous nights out. As I got older, I cared less what others thought and did what suited me. I had figured out by then that if these were my true friends, they’d respect my wish not to socialise in big groups regularly. They would be accepting of the fact that I’d much rather go out with a few people that I knew well and felt comfortable with and get on with their own thing at other times.

Ironically, as I began to care less about people pleasing, socialising began to get easier. The advent of the internet brought about virtual socialising in a way we’d never been able to take advantage of before. Chat rooms, groups and forums have all enabled the socially anxious to make and maintain friendships without having to face the real world. These days we have Facebook and Twitter too which bring a realm of like minded people to our living room and enable us to boast any number of ‘virtual friends’ we may never meet.

Yet there comes a time when even the most unsociable person wants to take a tentative step out into the big wide social world and meet virtual friends in real life. There are all sorts of events held all over the country which have been arranged with the intention of building on relationships which have been nurtured online. If you cast your mind back to the days before we all had easy access to a computer, try and remember how hard it would have been to walk into a room of 40 people you had never met before?

Tomorrow I am attending a ‘Tweet Up’ which has been arranged to allow a (quite large) group of people who regularly converse on Twitter in my area to meet up for a few drinks and a – gulp – real life conversation. Just now you imagined walking into a room of people you had never met. How did that make you feel? Scared? Anxious at the very least, I’m sure? Well, that’s exactly what I (and probably several others) will be doing tomorrow night. Except there is a difference. Although I have never met any of these people before, I already feel I know those who will be there. Social media has given us a window into each other’s lives and virtual friendships have been formed. I’m actually looking forward to going out tomorrow. Yes, I said I’m looking forward to it! J Who would ever have thought eh? Me – excited about going out with a large group of people that I don’t know?!

However, I want to add a note of caution. Aspies can be naïve when it comes to fellow humans and it should be borne in mind that someone you only know online may not be who you perceive them to be. Be careful not to form too strong an attachment to someone who you don’t actually know. Online relationships can be fickle. The pace of the internet is very fast and people come and go every day. It’s natural to feel let down when someone you have been chatting to online suddenly stops interacting with you. Being distraught at their absence means you have allowed yourself to become too emotionally involved. To be honest, I see this more on online dating sites. You regularly hear stories of women who ‘fall in love’ with men they have only met online and are stunned when the guy turns out to be totally alien to their online persona. Of course the reverse can be true too. You can make a negative judgement on a person’s online persona which is completely not how they come over in real life.

Social media is a fantastic tool for Aspies and you should definitely use these platforms to build yourself a network of like minded people. Don’t be tempted to create a new you, maintain your honesty and integrity and you will find people you’ll eventually want to meet up with in the real world and them you. However, you should always bear in mind that “just because you read it on the internet, it does not make it true” and “if something (or someone) sounds too good to be true, it usually is!” Keep your mind open and see where it takes you. Beyond your front door in no time I reckon!

 





Guildford Book Festival: Disabled people don’t read!

27 10 2010

I’ve written before of my disabilities aside from Aspergers Syndrome. I’m always more than happy to talk and write about how Aspergers affects me, but I tend not to spend too much time dwelling on my physical difficulties. This is because I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis for 28 years and it’s been a daily struggle of pain and fatigue. It’s boring and i don’t really wish to give it any more ‘head space’ than i have to. I’m aware I have limitations and I just get on with my life to the best of my abilities, just doing what I can, where and when I can.

These days with laws about access and support for disabled people, I find most organisations and businesses very willing to go out of their way to help disabled people when help is needed. Until recently, I have never come across anywhere where I have been actively barred from attending. Until now.

I wrote in my last blog entry that I have recently become a Freelance Writer. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for any writing events happening in my local area and I was very pleased to note that there was an upcoming book festival in Guildford. The event publicity promised some exciting workshops and talks so I requested a copy of the events guide and started looking forward to attending.

The events guide arrived and I quickly made my decision on the two events I wanted to attend. I had been in communication with Jane Wenham Jones, the lovely Author of ‘Wannabe a Writer’ and I was eager to meet her at an event she was hosting at the Electric Theatre. The second event was a workshop where we would learn to write personal life stories. The workshop was being held at the Guildford Institute. I should also add that the workshop was the most expensive event of the festival, costing around £30.

The next morning I called the Box Office to book my tickets. Having mobility issues, I’ve found it is easier to ring the venue as opposed to booking online. It means you can be advised of anything you should be aware of; such as allocated parking facilities, best entrance etc. I spoke to a friendly lady in the Box Office, explained which events I wanted to attend and mentioned my mobility needs expecting a ‘that’s fine’ sort of response.

There was an audible silence. “Ah” she replied “the workshop at the Guildford Institute is in a room which is only accessible via a narrow winding staircase. Im sorry but it isn’t going to be suitable for you. I can’t take your booking.” To be fair to her, she was very apologetic. It wasn’t her fault anyway, and she had done what she could. Albeit not a lot.

I was angry. I ranted a bit on Twitter and my tweet was picked up by the official Festival Twitter profile. They suggested I email the Festival Marketing Director. I sent the email and waited. 24 hours later I received a reply “I’m sorry that we can’t accommodate you. I hope you understand we are a Charity blah blah blah”. I couldn’t attend the Festival. I wasn’t welcome!

That really peeved me off! They want me to feel sorry for them?! I replied saying I didn’t understand nor did I care about their financial situation. I asked the Marketing Director to come back to me when she finds herself with mobility difficulties and excluded from the Festival herself!

I was really upset about this! Being disabled is difficult enough, without being turned away from somewhere because of it! I felt as though i wasn’t good enough for them! That hurt!

Now I do understand that some of these older, heritage buildings have limitations on adaptations. What got to me the most though, is that at the Guildford Institute is apparently another room on the floor below the room they were using. I wouldn’t have needed to use the winding staircase and could have managed. Would it have hurt them to swap the rooms? Did they offer to try and accommodate me? NO!

So to the organisers of Guildford Book Festival I say thank you for not considering that disabled people enjoy books too. We read and write just the same as the abler bodied. You chose to use a venue which we couldn’t access. You didn’t want the likes of me at your Festival. Shame on you! The Festival is over now and the workshop I was hoping to attend was on Saturday. It’s lucky you can afford to turn down the £50 I was going to spend with you. I spent it elsewhere in the end. I went somewhere I wasn’t judged for being disabled. One day you may have mobility difficulties yourselves. Only then will you truly appreciate how much upset your lack of foresight for the needs of disabled people has caused!





I swear I like it!

11 10 2010

I didn’t post on this blog last week. It has been a little bit manic here recently. Last weekend we went to the wedding of my friend Steph who I’ve known for over 20 years. The wedding was down in the West Country so we decided to stay longer and have a mini break. I used my skills as a bargain hunter and found us a three night caravan deal for £60 on a Haven site. The caravan we stayed in was fantastic. Probably the nicest caravan I have ever stayed in so that made the bargain price even sweeter. Steph looked beautiful and all in all we had a great time and managed to miss most of the rubbish weather.

Our mini break ended on Tuesday, so Wednesday was spent trying to catch up on everything. I’m starting a new venture which bolts on nicely to my Freelance Writing, so I’ve been pretty involved in sorting everything out for that too. My website and branding is currently being prepared. As soon as it is ready to go live I will be able to share more information with you.

Thursday was a lost day here. At 12.30pm all our power went off! Initially our electricity provider didn’t believe a power failure had occurred and told us to call an Electrician. Half an hour, and about 15 calls later, we finally found an Electrician who was answering their phone. He came out and advised us that there was no power entering our property and there was nothing he could do. He actually told us our supply had been tampered with, so another hour was spent on the phone to our Freeholder’s agents trying to get someone to take responsibility and come and sort the problem. Frustratingly at the time, but luckily in hindsight, they couldn’t find a telephone number for the company we needed to speak to. By this time it was 5pm, and our only option was to go to the main electricity network provider, EDF.

EDF logged our job and advised they would be out to us as soon as they can. At that point the power had been off for five hours! Strangely, we still had a power supply to the communal hallway so we rigged up an extension cable so we could at least boil a kettle and keep our mobiles charged up (yes, keeping my iPhone battery charged was a priority haha!). We had already spoken to our neighbours upstairs and established their power was still connected, but sometime around 6pm, our other ground floor neighbour came over to say they had no power either. He called EDF and was advised they would be our sometime after 9pm!

Soon, it was dark, and we were left sitting around in the dark with only our mobile phone screens for light (see, good job we charged them huh?) EDF called us soon after to say that the problem was now much more widespread than they initially believed, and a power failure caused by nearby workmen had cut power to 30% of properties in our area. They gave us a new estimate of midnight for restoration of the supply!

We’d been looking forward to the new series of The Apprentice but we couldn’t watch it! We had to have a takeaway pizza for dinner and eat it in the dark. I had loads of work to do but couldn’t do anything, and my boyfriend had to come home from work early on his first day back! More than anything, I was worried all the food in our freezer would go off, but to try and ensure it was safe, I made sure we didn’t open the freezer door.

We tried to stay awake so that when the power returned we could turn everything off, but by 10pm, we were both falling asleep. It’s strange how being in the dark does make you tired, but I guess our bodies get acclimatised to sleeping when it is dark. Well mine does anyway. I always find myself nodding off in the cinema too because it is dark! The power was restored at 11.50pm according to my alarm clock on Thursday morning. So Thursday and Friday were spent catching up on everything as we had really only had one and a half days out of the previous seven to do everything. My Freelance Writing clients pay me to write a predetermined number of blog posts or articles per week. I had to write 90% of those in two days. It’s all calmed down now and life is pretty much back to normal, thank goodness.

During all of this, I still managed to feed my Twitter addiction! I saw a tweet from somebody who was upset that somebody had used the ‘F’ word in his timeline. He made a statement that if any of the people he was following used the ‘F’ or even worse, the ‘C’ word he would immediately unfollow and block their profile. Although I agree with him that you shouldn’t use language like that on written public content such as tweets, I do wonder why such words are so socially unacceptable, and who decides that is the case?

I can remember when I was about ten years of age, my mum and I used to walk to school with a neighbour and her daughter who was in my year group. The mother used to swear quite regularly and one day I used the word ‘bugger’ which I’d learned from her. She took me to one side and went ape at me; saying it was a ‘bad’ word and I should never say that word again! I remember arguing with her then, that if it was such a bad word, why was it alright for her to say it? Plus, what is so bad about ‘bugger’? I still don’t understand the concept of why I had done something wrong!

I must confess I do actually like the ‘C’ word. I like the way it sounds when you say it. I used to know a guy who said the ‘C’ word and added ‘ing’ to the end of it. This word (which I’d never heard used in this context before) was used in the way people say ‘bloody’ and it fascinated me. He would say things like “I’m stuck in a c’ing traffic jam!” What tends to happen with me is that when I spend time with people, I start to adopt the way they speak or their mannerisms as my own. It comes almost instinctively, I just find myself doing it. So anyway, before too long I too was saying ‘C-ing’ this and ‘c-ing’ that, which some people took offence to. I am aware enough to know that swearing in this manner in the workplace and in public would not be a positive move, but there were times when I had to stop myself short as I realised I was about to say the word out of habit.

But I come back to my original question. Why are some words so offensive, and who makes that decision? Is it the mass effect? If enough people express their shock and offence at a word or phrase, it becomes unacceptable? Using that methodology, can we set up a flash mob of people who are offended by an innocuous word such as ‘load’? When did ‘bloody’ stop being offensive and form part of everyday language? But most of all, will it one day be acceptable to use words which are deemed offensive now?  I’ll be here waiting for the day when I can say my nice sounding but equally unacceptable word beginning with a ‘C’!





Does Aspergers = pessimism?

27 09 2010

As we know, anxiety is a very common trait in Aspergers Syndrome. This morning, I read these two posts on Twitter;

“What do you think—are Monday’s harder for Aspies?” (via @AspergersExpert)

“My experience is that Sunday is more controlled and Monday is unpredictable—leading to anxiety and elevated stress.” (Via AspergersExpert)

These posts prompted me to remember a quote I read from Keith  in the book ‘Aspergers – A Love Story’, in which Keith stated;

“A work free weekend is spoiled by the forthcoming working week, a holiday is spoiled by it’s impending end”

As an Aspie myself, I identified wholeheartedly with Keith’s feelings on this subject. The only times I don’t feel this way is when I am either unemployed, or working from home for the forseeable future. If I have to go to work the following week, regardless of how many days I am working, I will spend the weekend feeling a sense of dread at my time at home coming to an end. I’ll relax Friday night, but from Saturday I will intermittently feel a sense of anxiety about having to return to work in the near future.

Holidays are no different either. Regardless of the holiday duration, there will be this big black cloud hanging over my thoughts. Sooner or later the holiday will end, and I will have to return to work!

I should point out here that this is not because I hate my job. If I am in a job I am not enjoying, the sense of doom will be overwhelmingly strong. This rarely happens as I do love my work, and once I arrive at work, I am happy and love every minute. I just carry around a sense of foreboding about future events.

I don’t agree with the Twitter comments either. In my opinion, I don’t feel this way because I cannot deal with not being able to control what will happen in the future. Nor am I Agoraphobic. I don’t get anxious at the fact I will have to leave the house to go to work. I don’t know exactly why I feel this way. I’ve spent some time considering my reasons for being so pessimistic prior to writing this post, and I’ve had to conclude that there is no specific reason for my negative feelings.

Pessimism is not in my general nature either. In life, we all get knocked back or rejected, but my nature is not to sit and complain about my failures. My default setting is to get up and try again. For every negative which I encounter, I can find a positive. It is that positive that I hold onto with a vice grip, and take the positivity to carry on propelling myself towards my goal. It frustrates me that I allow this negativity to penetrate my thoughts. A lot of NT’s talk about the Sunday night/Monday morning feeling. For me, I can relate to the Sunday evening feeling easily, for this is how I feel, but for longer than just one evening. The Monday morning feeling is somewhat alien, as from the moment I wake up on Monday (or my first working day if it happens not to be Monday), I feel excited about what the day will bring.

I said in my last post that I have until January to prove I can make a living as a Freelancer. At this moment in time, there is no large black cloud looming ahead of my return to work. I can sense a mild feeling of pessimism when I remind myself that come January I may need to venture back into the outside world for work. However, I am clinging on to the positive which is that January is still three months away, and I have the power to disperse the cloud forever if I persevere with my freelance work.

In fact, it’s ironic that I now spend my weekends looking forward to the following week. I feel excited about opportunities I might discover. I sit and think of ideas for writing projects for the following week. I read and research new ways I can work, and new openings for writing I can approach. It’s a complete u turn to how I feel about having to ‘go to’ work. Working from home doesn’t feel like work. Maybe that is it? There is nobody watching my every move. Well, I still have deadlines and clients who expect them to be met, but I now do work that I love because I love it.

Maybe the answer is to work from home permanently then? Well, I am trying to make this happen for me, but my future isn’t completely in my control. I can only control my dedication and perseverance to achieving my ambition. For now, you’ll have to bear with me. I’ll keep plodding away 🙂

Do you have this sense of pessimism about work? Let me know by leaving your comment below





Live your dreams

20 09 2010

t’s been slightly over a month since my last temporary contract ended. You may remember I wrote about the day I lost my job here? In the first few days I attempted to find another new temporary contract, and even submitted a couple of applications. However, as the days went on, it became increasingly obvious to me thatmy heart wasn’t really in it.

You see, for years I’ve always enjoyed writing. I used to write a lot when I was a child. I can remember a friend of my mum’s house was flooded, and I pretended I was the insurance company and typed up a letter on my toy typewriter, responding to the claim she had made on her insurance policy. It was an entirely fictitious claim of course, but I wrote the letter as if it had been sent by the insurer. I wouldn’t have been any older than ten, and I’m not sure why or how I knew about insurance policies at that age?! Whenever I went anywhere or did anything, I’d write detailed stories and poetry about what I had done. My English teacher at Middle school told me that “one day I would write a book”. My career ambition at that point was to become a Journalist. I can also remember writing to the Editor of the Worthing Herald while I was still at Middle school applying for a job!

By the time I got to High school, writing became more about fiction writing, and later Shakespeare and other classics. None of these held my interest, and I gave up on the writing dream, believing I didn’t have the right skills to do the job. I just can’t create stories from my imagination, I can only write about real life. I’m fine even if I need to research the topic, providing I can relate to it in some way.  Like other Aspies I have no imagination for making up a story from scratch. Shakespeare was like another language to me. I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Frankly I didn’t really care what he was saying in those days. People don’t talk like that in the world as I know it, and if I don’t care about something, I switch off from it completely.

When I left school I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do career wise. I had changed my career aspiration from Journalism to Hairdressing because I enjoyed hair salons and wanted to work in one. Even now, when I’m in a salon, I don’t want to read magazines, I want to observe. I love watching stylists cut hair and seeing what they can create.  My O Level/CSE options had been decided in relation to what qualifications I would need for Hairdressing training, but I’d ruled that out too after two days of work experience at a local salon. It was far too much like physical hard work for me, and it’s not in my nature to just smile sweetly and agree with everyone no matter what they say! My best friend at the time had got a job in a local bank subsidiary and she told me they were looking for YTS Trainees. I figured it would give me experience and a qualification, so I accepted the job offer.

Fast forward to today, and like I said, my last contract was still in Finance, and I’ve not done too badly from working in that sector all told. But there has always been this thought in the back of my mind that I do want to write for a living. For years I thought maybe I would write a book, and I did try a couple of times but I cannot write fiction to save my life! I It was quite funny recently, but we needed to write a verse to show on our wedding website, so my partner suggested I did it. Four pages of rubbish later, I gave up and suggested he compose something. Within five minutes he had come up with something fantastic! Perhaps we will turn out to be a couple fo writers; him fiction and me factual?!

Anyway, I think I’ve mentioned I study part time with Open University, and when the time came to choose my next course, I had another strong feeling. I wanted to return and try and deal with the mental barrier I had about Shakespeare. I start that course next month. Now I’m older I can appreciate the skill and beauty of his work. We even went to see a Shakespeare play soncha know?!

So, rewinding again to last month when my contract ended, and I suddenly had a really overwhelming ‘moment of clarity’. I’m going to take this unemployment opportunity to take my writing ambition seriously and see if I can write for a living. Yet again, the timing for this is not the best. I’m getting married next year, and ideally we need all the income we can get right now, but the feeling is too strong. I can’t ignore it. I’ve got to try. Fortunately, my partner is supporting me over this, and has agreed I can have until the New Year to concentrate on writing. If by then I haven’t made enough income to cover my modest temp salary, I have to go and get another part time contract. I started this blog about six weeks ago, and feedback I’ve received from readers has been really positive which has spurred me on somewhat. I joined Elance, the online freelancer’s network and posted a profile and started bidding for work. So far I’ve been awarded a few projects from Elance. One of the clients has given me some fantastic feedback on the quality of the article I wrote for her which was great! I always find it difficult to know if friends and family are just saying what they think I want to hear, but when I get good feedback from someone who has paid me to do a job, I start to feel like it might just be true you know?

That’s where I am right now. I’m pitching for jobs on Elance most days. I’m trying to design myself a website in the hope I can attract some more local clients. I’m half way through a book which teaches the skill of writing pitches for freelance features, so I know how to pitch properly to magazines. I’m also busy learning about WordPress so I can understand more about how this site and blogging in general works. I’ve become a book reviewer for WH Smith and I write book and movie reviews for Artistandmakers.com. I have a notebook so when ideas for features come into my mind I can write them down and find my notes easier. I’m hoping to find a local writers group so I can learn from others, and I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for local book festivals. Above all, I’m trying to be positive, patient and focused. I write every day whether it’s for this blog, a blog post or article for a client or a pitch. I have three months left to make it happen before I have to go back to getting up at stupid o clock for another temp job. Can I live my dream? I hope so, but I tell you this for nothing – I’m going to have a jolly good try!








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