After my last corporate HR contract finished almost three years ago, I came to the decision that I would not look for another job in HR. I was not contributing a lot to our finances as most of my earnings were invested in childcare. My husband supported my decision, and I hung up my disciplinary/recruitment/general giver of bad news coat. Instead of HR, I focussed on being a full-time mum and writing the book I always possessed a yearning to start. What could be so difficult about that?
Challenging in different ways
Yet I did, (be prepared for a cliché), follow my dream to become a writer. While I found working in HR and managing two children difficult, being a full-time mum and writer was also challenging. I strived to write a best seller but struggled to finish the book because time did not allow. Demotivation and a severe lack of confidence regularly came knocking. Writing is an isolated occupation. It took adjustment to transition from a job where I was interacting with people all day to sitting at the kitchen table alone staring at a screen and willing the words to flow.
At first, it felt like a lie, a misrepresentation, to tell others I was a writer. What gave me the right to trespass upon such a wonderful profession? I cared what people thought too much. When asked whether I worked, I felt inadequate, spoilt even, for responding that I was a full-time mum. I lacked the confidence to assert that I was a writer. I was worried about telling people I was a writer because they would challenge or judge me. Perhaps it was my paranoia and expectation that to be a success I had to be earning in the city. It was all I knew.
When you’re skilled at something, and you have confirmation that you’re good at it, it brings confidence. After working in HR for over a decade, I was confident about how to manage people-related work situations and how to develop in my career. Starting as a writer, I lacked self-confidence because I had absolutely no idea if I was any good at it. I was (and still can be) shy about my work.
Pay equals confidence
The stanch independence of being a successful career woman didn’t change when I became a writer. My values and need to be successful in a career did not evaporate. So, I worked hard looking after my children and writing a novel, but it wasn’t until I earned money that I began to feel successful. When I started paid ghost writing I felt credible enough to tell people: I’m a writer. Earning money shouldn’t have given me the self-assurance to confirm my new occupation but being paid provided the confirmation that I was succeeding.
Hard work pays off
Now, after various writing courses, experience, paid and published work, I have the confidence I so desperately required. I have worked hard to retrain. The job is flexible, so I can work around the children. I often write in the evenings because I am passionate about writing and success. I have learned that you must take some risks and work hard because if you’re going to succeed in something, it doesn’t necessarily come easily.
My novel isn’t finalised to a state where I feel it is publishable, but I write every day. I also ensure that my writing projects are varied. So, I have changed my tune. Now if asked about my vocation I tell people: I am a writer. There are many guilty moments because I’m not contributing the same amount financially as I once did. As my husband keeps telling me, he couldn’t do what he does without me looking after the children. He also tells me that I am successful. As needy as it might make me, sometimes I just need that confirmation. It fits nicely with my writer identity.