quits her job
how lovely," my Granny says, "Youre going to retire."
two and a half years of hating my work, I have called my own bluff.
Ive quit my job.
My last day in official employment will be June 5th, and I have nothing
planned except for flying to a two-week holiday on a Greek island on
When I made the decision, I did register with a couple of recruitment
agencies; small ones who give the impression that they see me as an
individual instead of wanting to bung me into whatever hole they can
fit me into. If I am honest (a trait which is difficult when confronted
by those whose concern is my ability to pay my rent), I am half hearted.
I do not really want to be tied to another office job, particularly
if it means forming attachments of loyalty to colleagues and a company.
I know from experience that loyalty is double edged, when it results
in feeling trapped in an environment that I didnt choose.
I am firm in telling people I am open to ideas and change.
I am flexible and happy to try something different.
I am also happy to be poor for a while, apparently.
"Oh how lovely," my Granny says, "Youre going to
retire." I think she would like me to take up occupancy of her
spare bedroom and chat about how Murder She Wrote is far
inferior to Quincey every afternoon.
Retirement isnt really an option, of course. My family say they
dont see enough of me, but I think theyd soon discover how
much enough is.
Leaving London is not a part of my plan for changing my life. London
is the goal I have achieved; moving here, establishing a life, paying
my rent. It is a tick in a box, the only one I have, and I wont
be erasing it without a fight. While the tick was originally made in
pencil, it has been inked over many times, if not quite word-processed
and saved to hard drive. All the same, I have considered it. Before
I handed in my resignation, I confronted the worst-case scenario. Retiring
to small town suburbia to live with my parents. I then thought of the
alternative and knew that if my parents were Ozzy and Sharon Osmond
I would still rather live out my days with them than work any longer
than my notice period for evil.com.
Resigning without first finding a new job may be against the advice
of my recruitment agent, but soon to be unemployed as I am, I am not
I am less than enthusiastic about the agencies, since it is they who
got me the dead end job I currently inhabit, and I dont especially
want to be sent down another equally dire road from which I will only
emerge another three years older, and further disillusioned. But, if
I dont want their permanent work, I can temp for them, and hopefully
gain a variety of experiences in creative, publishing and media companies
which could give me an idea of what I do (or perhaps more likely, what
I dont) want to do.
My second, vaguely sensible possibility is to work for a bookshop. I
have sent my CV off to one chain, and received a call back from their
HR department. I love books, and if you held a gun against my head and
said, you will never make money from writing. What will you be?
My ideal would be to own my own bookshop or work in publishing, so learning
about the trade literally from the shop floor does not seem so irrelevant,
even if it is low paid.
From low pay to no pay, another option is work experience in the fiction
editorial department of a large publishing company, where my friend
used to work and still has contacts. While this isnt a long-term
option, and I dont know for certain that I do want to work in
publishing, the experience would at least give me the insight to make
that decision, and enable me to forge invaluable contacts.
You will never make money from writing. The sentence leaves
me cold and if Id had to write it without inverted commas, or
really believed it, then I might have cried. Writing, of course, is
what I want to do. If I can find a way of paying my way through casual
work which doesnt consume my time or leave me so miserable my
soul is no longer my own, then I can concentrate on writing. It isnt
the money that matters, so much as the freedom it gives to live, love,
travel, experience and find expression. I cannot escape the feeling,
that in the days of our youth, variety of experience is an achievement
to be looked back on with greater satisfaction in old age, than the
petty victories of office politics.
At a tangent, I do consider getting a market stall at Spitalfields.
Perhaps Ill sell second- hand books, or maybe patchwork cushions
made from scraps of my old clothes run up on my Grans sewing machine.
I am also thinking of volunteering as a steward for the National Trust
one day a week. Above all, I am thinking of things I would love to do
as my essential criteria.
I dont care if I never make a boardroom, I am not ambitious about
my career. I am ambitious about being happy and fulfilled. I hate the
cynicism attached to the idea of networking, making contacts, building
a CV. But I am genuinely happy to meet interesting new people and try
out different environments. I have no idea what will happen next, and
more than anything I am excited to find out. I no longer feel trapped,
old, failed. It has, in fact, suddenly occurred to me that I am very
I am twenty-five, I have talents, and I can change my life.
© Jayne Sharratt May 15th 2003
Jayne Sharratt takes
Jayne has also written a wonderful full length children's novel entitled
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