O Frabjous Day!

I would even go so far as to say Callooh, callay.

Last Friday my boss called me in for a meeting with my supervisor. (No, that isn’t the good bit. Be patient!) Having waved a long list at me of what I currently do, and a shorter list of what else they’d like me to start doing, they said that all this really came to more than four days a week, and that they would like me to go back to five days. (Definitely not the good bit.)

Can you guess what I said in reply? If you can’t, go back and have a look at the last quote post. It was like that, except my boss didn’t offer me a pay rise. I handed in my official resignation letter the next working day.
I am leaving the Dreaded Day Job! My Jabberwock is slain!


In the end, after all my dream-drafts, it didn’t actually matter whether or not I crafted the perfect resignation letter. I had other things also on my mind that weekend and the main thing was that it was done. Like organising a wedding: the main thing is that you end up married to the person you love; everything else is just icing.

Being absurdly happy at giving notice, I was prepared to be generous, and have agreed to stay on til the end of February, doing five day weeks while they train a new person. This means a notice period of seven weeks instead of the usual four, but hey, I bask in a mellow glow. Peace on earth, goodwill to all mankind etc etc.

But, I hear you ask (all right, I don’t, but indulge me here) what are you going to do now? Man does not live on bread alone, but it certainly helps! What new job have you acquired, and are you quite certain you aren’t going from the frying pan to the fire? Better the devil you know etc etc.

I thank you for your kind concern, but let me allay your fears at once. Thanks to the machinations of the Caped Gooseberry’s fruitful brain, I shall from March be taking up a full-time position as a SAHW – a stay-at-home writer.

My dream has come true.

I feel like Mary Theotokos:
“My heart overflows with my Lord’s praises,
my soul with joy because of God my Saviour
for he has not forgotten me, his servant.
Everyone will call me blessed and happy
because of what the Mighty God has done for me
– holy is His name!”

In fact, my only difficulty now is to avoid looking too happy at work – since my boss has asked me not to tell my colleagues yet, questions might well be asked which it would be difficult to answer honestly.

Happy, fortunate, lucky, blessed – oh, yes. That’s me.

Good News, Bad News, Good News

Dorothy Sayers did it, but for some reason it never occurred to me until a friend of mine suggested it. It’s a truly brilliant idea.

Lightbulb and performer over the Emirates Stadium

Instead of waking up each morning going urgh, another day at the Dreaded Day Job, why not wake up saying ooh! I wonder what new material for a novel will be presented to me today?


Dorothy Sayers worked in an advertising agency for many years and subsequently wrote Murder Must Advertise – a murder mystery set in an advertising agency. Satisfyingly, the fact that it’s an advertising agency is important to the plot. Any Old Office would not do.

Naturally, mine will be a murder mystery too, and in honour of white-collar wage-slaves everywhere, the boss will be the victim. (The first victim, anyway.) Everyone has a motive – but whodunit?

For the first time I see how much difference attitude makes, compared with circumstance. Now when my long-suffering colleagues pour out some new frustration, I don’t get worked up any more. I smile a secret inward smile and I make a cryptic little note.

I Have Discovered The Physiological Source of All Happiness!

On the Bad News side of the ledger, I was informed this last Tuesday that my next Monday was cancelled. High volume of work + low volume of staff = we’re unilaterally changing your hours this week (don’t even ask about my contract).
Generally the DDJ and I would go head to head on a thing like this, but not this time. This time it’s to cover bereavement leave, which is something I wholeheartedly support, so I’ll do my bit. And hopefully I’ll do my bit of writing during the Christmas holidays.

On the subject of writing, I have received some more good news. My patrons have generously decided to provide me with a small fund toward the costs of my presently unpaid job as a writer. (Paper, pen, ink, books on the craft…) On my shopping list at the moment are Kristen Lamb’s book Rise of the Machines, Jeff Gerke’s Plot Versus Character and Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering. Happy as a pig in muck!

Mr Pig aka Rasher!

What are your favourite workplace novels – murder mystery or otherwise? Do you have must-read recommendations for books on writing? Have you always dreamt of keeping pigs? Your comments welcomed!

The Artist's Way: A Sense of Catching Up

Covering July: a Sense of Connection, August: a Sense of Strength, and September: a Sense of Compassion.
Lightly covering – a crisp linen sheet, say, rather than a fat and puffy quilt.

July revealed such gems as “I believe I am getting better at socks” (knitting them, not the Pratchett kind) and “I feel more possible” (although the Caped Gooseberry assures me I am not only possible, but actual – I think my meaning may have escaped him).
Also “As a kid, we never had enough: books” (whether you can have enough books is debatable; our perceived lack drove me to read encyclopaedias and Agatha Christie at the age of six, so it’s not all bad).

Reading the encyclopedia

August asked me to complete this sentence: In a perfect world I would secretly love to be a…
All right, there’s not much secret about it, but I want to be a full-time writer.
In five years’ time, I’d like to be writing full time with one novel published and two plays produced.
What can I do now to help make that happen?
Write hard on Mondays. Make the most of morning spaces. Get to bed on time.

I was also invited to select a role model. The three women who sprang to mind are not only among my favourite writers (international women of mystery) but are also all three writers who balanced novels and the theatre in some way or another: Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy Sayers.

mystery of marie roget set

The one woman who sprang to mind whom I most certainly do not wish to take for my pattern is P.D. James – at least having a DDJ until reaching retirement age. In the areas of literary achievement, faith and perseverance (not to mention the life peerage) I’d be most happy to follow her example.

Also, if I was a colour, I’d be russet: colour of earth and blood, rich cloth and poor, and the bindings of old books. The colour of autumn leaves, the colour of rust.

September brought an insight – I should stop calling myself lazy. I wrote “you may be scared, self-doubting and self-flagellating, feeling tired, heartsick and guilty – but you are not lazy.”

Procrastination isn’t the result of laziness, Cameron says. It’s the result of fear.  “Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all.” (p.152)

There's no fear in love.

Another insight: “Over any extended period of time, being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline. Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment…” (p.153).

Much like marriage: you can’t stay in the same emotional state for 50 years, you need commitment. But commitment shouldn’t be replaced by discipline (hug two three! kiss two three!) because discipline isn’t rooted in love – except perhaps in love with how wonderfully disciplined we are!

The trick is to find our enthusiasm for the task at hand – and how to find it quickly in the pre-dawn dark when getting out of the nice warm bed seems like a particularly sadistic rebirthing technique.

As always, your wisdom welcomed! Or witty folly (better a witty fool than a foolish wit) – we’re not fussy here!

Sinistra Inksteynehand250