Sunday, 21 February 2016
The Day My Life Changed Direction
My post today is to commemorate the week, five years ago, when my life changed.
It was a Friday - the last day of the February half term - and, after a lovely week off, I was preparing to go back to work the following Monday. Instead, I had a message to come into the school for a meeting.
I'd been the English teacher at the small, private primary school for ten years and it was unusual to be called in on the last day of our break. I'm not sure if I had a premonition of what was to come as I drove to the school that morning and took my seat with the other teachers and support staff... but everything seemed wrong. It was too quiet, with none of the usual back to school chatter. Faces were serious. Eyes wary.
The news, when it came, was devastating. The school hadn't weathered the recession and was to close. There would be no job to go back to and no classes for the children.
I remember the following Monday as clearly as if it happened yesterday... going into school, collecting up my things, taking down children's work from the display boards and leaving them bare. Most of all, I remember saying goodbye to the children gathered in the hallway to collect their work and trying not to cry.
When I got home, I walked the dog along the river bank. It was a lovely clear day but instead of taking in the beauty of the place, the river meandering through the water meadows and the South Downs in the distance, my thoughts flicked back and forth from what had been, to what might be. I had no direction. On the one hand I felt relief at having left behind the parts of my job all teachers hate: preparing, marking, occasional challenging children, parents evenings and the dreaded OFSTED but I had also left behind my identity. I was adrift.
For those of you who know the rest of the story, I apologise. For my new readers, I will tell you what happened next in a sentence. I did a writing course, I did a second, I sent a story to magazines, I had rejections, I had acceptances, I carried on, I wrote more, I subbed more, I had rejections, I published more, I wrote a serial, I wrote another, I had rejections, I wrote articles, I wrote a novel, I had rejections, I had words of encouragement, I didn't give up, I had belief, I had hope, I have a new life opening up to me - exciting, challenging.
Five years ago, through adversity, my life took a new new direction.
I didn't find it. It found me.
I'm proud of myself.
I am a writer.