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Hacktreks 2

First Chapters


Jayne Sharrat quits her job
"Oh how lovely," my Granny says, "You’re going to retire."

After two and a half years of hating my work, I have called my own bluff. I’ve 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 June 8th.

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 didn’t 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, "You’re 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 isn’t really an option, of course. My family say they don’t see enough of me, but I think they’d 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 won’t 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 While the tick was originally made in pencil, it has been inked over many times, if not quite word-processed and saved to hard drive.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

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 without options.

I am less than enthusiastic about the agencies, since it is they who got me the dead end job I currently inhabit, and I don’t 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 don’t 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 don’t) 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 isn’t a long-term option, and I don’t 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 I’d 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 doesn’t consume my time or leave me so miserable my soul is no longer my own, then I can concentrate on writing. It isn’t 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 I’ll sell second- hand books, or maybe patchwork cushions made from scraps of my old clothes run up on my Gran’s 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 don’t 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 young.
I am twenty-five, I have talents, and I can change my life.

© Jayne Sharratt May 15th 2003

More by Jayne

Weekend In Manhattan
Jayne Sharratt
takes a break



Jayne has also written a wonderful full length children's novel entitled HOLLY



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