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.

53 comments:

  1. I knew about you losing your job, Wendy but hadn't realised it had happened so suddenly. That must have been a huge shock.

    I went to one of those meetings myself. It was awful - just as you describe. We were more fortunate than you in that we did have some time to adjust and make plans before we were out of work but it was still an unpleasant experience.

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    1. We had three days! As you can imagine it was a huge shock to everyone.

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  2. What a beautiful post. How you managed to turn around it around is inspiring. It really is a when one door closes another opens moment. Well done x

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    1. Thank you, Susan. Interestingly, 'As One Door Closes' was the title of one of my magazines stories.

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  3. You've definitely worked hard and created your own success. Well done Wendy, inspiring blog!

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  4. You've definitely worked hard and created your own success. Well done Wendy, inspiring blog!

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  5. When one door closes another one opens, even though it's hard to appreciate it at the time.

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  6. Lots of people would have curled up and wept. You did something very positive and brave. It proves that life and success is what you make it.A writing star is born!

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    1. I don't know about that, Viv - but I did get to meet Tim Rice, didn't I!

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  7. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, isn't that what they say Wendy?
    You deserve the success, and I hope the adventure continues for many years to come.

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    1. Thanks, Maria. We never know what's round he corner - good or bad.

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  8. You're a very strong woman, Wendy. Well done for turning things around x

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  9. Well done on your success and perseverance Wendy change is never easy but sometimes you can turn it around as you did x

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  10. What a shock, Wendy, and how inspiring to read that you responded in such a positive way, changing direction with such success and turning an unforeseen ending into an exciting beginning. xx

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    1. Sound like a story doesn't it, Joanna. Maybe I should write it!

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  11. Fabulous story. And you've done so well, in such a short time!

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  12. You' ve come such a long way and done so much since then. It's amazing and inspiring.

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    1. Thank you, Rosie - you nearly caught me out with your name change!

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  13. A really inspiring story, thank you.

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    1. I'm glad you think so. Thanks for popping over, Zeba.

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  14. I can't imagine what it was like for you, Wendy. It's leaving the children that's the hardest, isn't it? I was bad enough when I had a term to prepare and it was my choice to move to another role. A moving post.

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  15. I knew that your teaching job had ended, Wendy, but I had no idea it happened so suddenly. What a brutal shock for everyone. Well done for picking yourself up and changing the direction of your life. You have had such success since. Your story is an inspiration.

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    1. You never know what's around the corner do you, Susanna.

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  16. Great post, Wendy! And you certainly are...A writer! Keep up the good work, you're inspiring lots of us!

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  17. You've achieved a HUGE amount in 5 years. I knew you had been a teacher but not realised you'd been made redundant let alone so suddenly. How awful. I assumed you'd decided to focus on your writing! You are an inspiration, Wendy.

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    1. While I was teaching, the only writing I did was marking books!

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  18. Such an uplifting story, Wendy. You've worked hard for your success - enjoy :-)

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  19. I had a little sniffle after this post, Wendy. Sad news about the school closing (and so suddenly) but if it hadn't then I may never have met you. And my life would be far less fun :)

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  20. Inspiring post to share, Wendy. Although I knew about you having to change direction I also hadn't realised it was so sudden. Poor children too - that must have been hard for them, never mind all the teachers. You deserve all you've achieved so far - your determination and hard work will no doubt bring even more success.

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    1. Yes, it was a sad time for so many, Rosemary

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  21. Thank you for sharing, Wendy. Life's twist and turns test us exponentially at times. So pleased that so much good came out of a bad situation. Wishing you continued success.

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    1. It shows we can never be too complacent, doesn't it Nicola.

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  22. How horrible for you, and the children. It just shows that it's how we deal with such adversity that is important. It's so difficult to think of these times as an opportunity but, given time, they can be a chance to reappraise life. Well done.

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    1. It was exactly that, Simon. I didn't rush into anything but took time out to think about how I could use this change for the better.

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  23. How devastating that news must have been for you, Wendy, and for everyone involved.
    Yes you certainly are a writer and you do right to be proud.
    Your life out of the blue changed direction and you changed direction with it and forged yourself a wonderful new career.
    Magic :-) xx

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    1. Maybe I should turn it into a story, Sue :-)

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  24. I feel quite tearful, Wendy! Here's to the next five years, and the next, and the - well, you get the idea.

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  25. What a heart-warming story. It must have been devastating at the time, but things happen for a reason, and you should be proud of yourself.

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  26. That was dreadful, but you got through it and became a writer, so their loss was the reading public's gain. ;-)

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