No one said setting up a writing coaching and feedback service would be easy. No one really had any predictions about it, probably because we didn’t ask for any.
And then when people do ask about it, I’m either so surprised they’re interested, I talk them into a look of bemused boredom or they grasp it too well and ask that little bastard of a question: ‘so have you been published?’ Or, it’s awkward close relation: ‘What do you do if they don’t get published at the end of it?’ (More on this another day.)
No one told me it would be quite so much staring at my inbox, clicking refresh when staring become disheartening as well as pointless (it’s only a light step between the two but I’m sure it’s there) and then snarling at the screen when the little (1) of hope turned out to be a ‘do you know ...’ email from twitter.
The other day I actually celebrated our 40th follower on twitter with a post announcing the fact on facebook. Why did I not enter the working world before you had to put little sentences onto a conveyor belt of little sentences for people to scroll down when they could also be doing something more interesting, like flattening receipts or making everything on their desk perpendicular? I still don't know what Pinterest is for...
I like post. I like trying to guess what it is before I open it. I like walking downstairs to the post office, pausing to check the back is sealed, the address is legible, and the stamp is firmly affixed, for the third time, before dropping it into the mouth of the cheerful red post box. I even like how it reminds me of the outside world by breaking the silence of my quiet flat when it rattles through the letter box and flunks onto the carpet. Even if it does scare the shit out of me. Every time.
It wasn’t really a conscious decision to set up a creative writing and feedback service. Not on my part anyway, not yet. It was something to do, after university and after the third or fourth internship and the 37th failed job application. The problem with being a magpie person (distracted by so many shiny things of interest ranging from psychology to dress making and algebra to stage management) is that you end up with a CV of nothing and everything: everything you had a go at and nothing of use. The only thing mine really proclaimed (with some editing) was: I like books! Me and all the other thousands of graduates scrabbling for jobs in the book industry, castaways missing or capsizing a tilting boat.
That was something everyone told me. But you either hope you’ll be one of the lucky few who does make a career in books or you give up without even trying – and do something else. Only that didn’t work out because I hadn’t done anything else enough to get a job in it, except retail and only the big supermarkets or big department stores take on full-time employees at non-managerial level.
John Lewis wasn’t hiring so it was work for Tesco or be standing in the chocolate aisle in Tesco, choosing between maltesers and minstrels, when your mother sends you a text saying, ‘How about we set up our own company?’ and you have to stop yourself telling the nearest person about this incredibly ludicrous idea that’s just been suggested to you.
16 months on, though I am one of the lucky few, being paid to do what I love doing, I’m still not sure it’s not a ludicrous idea. But with 48 clients (former and existing), leaflets, business cards and a load of social media accounts I’m not sure what to do with, I have to at least admit it is happening.
I just sometimes wish it was slightly less of a pushing a building up a hill sort of happening.