Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘work experience’

One in a Million

I am nothing if not unconventional. 

My boys are at a difficult age, starting out from the cosseted world of education and trying to make it in the world of business and employment.   School has equipped them with knowledge about many things but not yet how to be The One; the one who stands out from the rest.   I am not sure where that will be learnt.  I suspect the same place as I learned; in the hard competitive university of life.

I have never really conformed to  being a normal person.  I struggle to follow the expected norm from childhood  and in my life since.  I have often felt alone working in a very male orientated world where I slowly erode the pre-conceptions of being a woman to becoming accepted and welcomed.   This is probably a hang up from not being able to study mechanical engineering at university when I was in a very antiquated convent school with my limited options of  nun, nurse, teacher or if I had to housewife.

Only this week I had to rely on my individuality to win a new contract.  Being self-employed and running my own businesses on and off over the years I have been on the receiving end of copious job applications and interviews.  Each time I look for that spark of individuality that says this person is different and I can work well with.   I hope my boys will realise they need to stand out from the norm and bring that extra something.

My first job interview was not what I expected at all.  We were only 16 when my best friend from school was persuaded by her mother to unwillingly apply for a Saturday job at a  well-known electrical retailers.   She was not happy about it and her mother asked me to accompany her to the interview.  If only to calm her down and make sure she got there ok.   I was happy to oblige grateful it was not me being pushed to get a job so young.

We sat in the waiting room, her quietly fuming at her mother and me trying to reassure her that it was just a meeting.   She got called in and I sat twiddling my fingers waiting, chatting to people who walked by, knowing we had enough money for a hot chocolate but with careful budgeting we could indulge in a cake before catching the bus home.   She came out and I stood to leave with her. The interviewer asked me to go in for chat.   Reluctant to be involved and really not wanting a job Saturday or otherwise I was adamant I did not want to.  My friend encouraged me and the lady suggested I came in and saw it as a learning experience in case I ever needed to attend an interview.

They were right of course it was all about learning and experiences.  I went in, chatted amiably telling them all about me and my plans for the future, left my phone number and off we went for the promised drink.   By the time I got home I was met by a very bemused mother who told me I had a job starting the following Saturday.   Why had I not told her that was I was going; simply because I had not planned to?

Needless to say I did take the job and worked for a couple of years till I went off to nursing college.  My friend and I remained close friends.  She found a Saturday job in a small textile shop which gave her much needed discounts to feed her dressmaking passion.   She left college to work full time in the shop and later moved into the management of the chain of shops developing the career she craved.   Her mother did not hold it against me, at least her daughter had gone for the interview and when the right job came along she had that experience to fall back on.

I had not known it then but that was going to be a template for my working life, none of my jobs have I got through formal methods.   A night in a London Wine bar meeting a complete stranger is probably not one I would advocate for the youth of today, but I had heard about it word of mouth and I loved the very unconventional secretarial job that followed that interview.

What was particularly unusual about this week was I wasn’t looking for the job but it all seemed to fall into place and I ended up with a new contract.   I asked him  why me.

“ there were so many applicants, but yours was different,  fast and efficient then you pushed me for a trial.  Your knowledge and understanding of the subject contractmeans that I don’t have to spend time explaining complicated terminology and you already have the equipment”.

To me it is obvious if I don’t understand the work, however lovely, however wonderful the job is, it will not work out.

When the next contract comes up for grabs will I use the same tactics.  Not exactly, I have no doubt I will approach it in the same unconventional way, however each contract is individual and the preliminary research could well lead me to a completely different point of commonality for us to work from. Some I might resort to basic knowledge, some I might have to resort to a touch of moral massaging and there will be some that I need to just be capable.   How do I impart my individuality and difference to my children?   How do I make them realise that being the same is sometimes not enough?  They will always be for me but how do I make them one in a million ready for the working world?

So to the business of writing, and again I am delighted to have a photo and caption in this week’s “that’s life” magazine helping me a little towards this years writing school experience.

Memories is out with a beta reader (someone going through looking for continuity, grammar and probably spelling) who I hope is going to use a gentle red pen as she reads and re-writes it.  It is such a complicated time line for the story that I need to be sure it works in real time and I am hoping that she will still enjoy the story.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at Tea Time Treats.

Steaming Guilt

I am carrying the guilt around like so many women I know.  Am I a working mother or wicked mother?

It began yesterday morning with a normal teenage argument “but it’s raining”.

“I have to go to work” I explained slowly and calmly for the umpteenth time.

It ended with the normal teenage explosion of “I hate you”, “you don’t care about me” and the slamming of the front door.

He was right about one thing; it was raining.  It has not stopped raining for weeks and weeks.

Middle Son has been doing work experience  every week for months although the experience was; less work, than turn up and not have anything to do so being let off and spending the day back at home in front of the x-box.   I have not had to take him to there before  so why was today any different?

Actually I knew why. His place of work experience had changed and this time he would have to learn different jobs, meet new people and be involved in something he may not yet understand.   Although teenagers don’t admit to it he was nervous and needed my presence to reassure him.

I of course had to be at work at 9am and he was not due till 10.  I had taken him up there the week before to meet the new people and I had gone in with him then and had a sneaky mummy nose around.

Work was busy, the phone did not stop ringing, the emails pinged as they flooded the system and I cannot actually remember where the morning went.  It was late morning when my mobile rang and I rushed to find out what emergency had befallen one of my children.

“Mum where are you?”

I was at work, where else would I be?  Where was he?

He was walking home.   Taking an early lunch I relented and rushed in the car to pick him up.  A sad forlorn figure so cold and wet he could not take another step towards the house and was sheltering as best he could under what was left of a tree.

He had waited and waited in the torrential rain for them to arrive.  Having arrived slightly early he stayed for two hours waiting.  There was no shelter and the rain continued to pelt down his hair, trickle under his light trendy jacket and fill his totally unsatisfactory canvas shoes.

Sensibly he had made it back to school which was on the way home.    School contacted the work place and discovered there had been a problem this morning and they had been delayed.  In fact they probably arrived minutes after Middle Son trudged dejectedly away from the place.   They were so full of apologies and promises of a better try next week.  He was sent home to dry out and get warm.  It was still raining.

Guiltily I collected him, made him a hot drink and sent him up for a warm steamy bath; then went back to work.  I wanted to stay and make sure he was ok.  I wanted to steamy mugassuage my guilt by sitting on the sofa with him like the old days and feeding him treats and watching some unbearable film just to show him I cared.  But there were more emails, and a report to type and I needed the money.

I had just spent the previous weekend researching the internet, balancing everyone’s different wants and needs from a family holiday and I think I had find one that suited us all but it was very expensive.   I work to help pay the bills but it also allows for the extra treats such as holidays; short breaks and current necessary cannot live without electronic gadgets.

If I stopped work to be with the children all the time would they suffer?  Maybe not but there would be things they would go without.  They would not be able to keep up with the Jones or the Smiths or any of their contemporaries with I-phones, I –pads and x-boxes.    We would not be able to go on holiday and they would have to temper their designer cravings.

This is not a new argument.  I have been battling my guilty conscience about being a working mother since No 1 Son was 3 months old.   Every time one of the children is ill or injured I am thrown into yet another vortex of mixed guilt at having to take time off and let work colleagues down or not being with my child at his time of need.  I am lucky to have had the opportunity to put my career on hold while I worked in a school; so at least I only worked term time and had the holidays with them.

Our lives are changing though with No 1 Son applying for university next year and Middle Son hoping to begin his apprenticeship in September; maybe they will not need me so much.  Maybe now is the time I can kick start my career for me?  I will check the sits vacant this weekend in the paper.

Today I got a call from the school “Middle Son is poorly can you come and get him please”

He is cold, shivery, and full of a head cold and he blames me.

If only I had taken him to work.



Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at  Tea Time Treats



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