A new start

For the last couple of years, I’ve been poised to make a new start. My babies are all in school, and my career as a scientific writer continues part-time – giving me the opportunity to explore new avenues and broaden my reach.

I know what I want.


I want to maintain my current career, which in theory should be straightforward, except that the EMA is moving to Amsterdam, the government doesn’t have an EU deal, and the PharmaTimes has just reported that the government are now asking companies to stockpile medicines in case of supply issues following Brexit? This blog is not the place for me to reply in full to the Brexit situation. Suffice to say I could reply with thousand-word essays or two-word pithiness. Here, I’ll just say that as a human and a mother, knowing what I know about medicines, Brexit frightens me. And I’m hardly ever scared of anything.


I’d love to work in or with schools, to help with literacy, or funding, or both – preferably with aspects of both project management and contact with the children (because KIDS, yeyyy!), and ideally in a way that involves studying and working with child development, including special needs. This would make my heart go all fuzzy. I’d want to be part of a team, to be included in projects rather than skirting around the outside — for decades I’ve been a freelance writer which is very often a solo pursuit. I like the freedom but also I like people, talking and collaborating. I like cheering each other on. And, if truth be told, I quite like leading. (I know. But I do, and this is my wish list.) However, this role doesn’t exist in the absence of a teaching qualification, and my attempts to enrol on a teacher training course were interrupted by some terrifying family health issues that seem set to continue, at least in the immediate-term. Reality bites.


I’d love to have a novel written and published, because I can just see myself posing next to my lovely cover on a shelf and basking in critical acclaim (big, cheesy grin). Also, I quite like writing. So on that score, I’m able to get working immediately. I’ve set aside the next quarter to achieve a first draft and the first set of edits. Clearly, writing fiction would be the obvious leap if only authors were paid enough to live on. But this is rarely the case: a June 2018 survey conducted by the ALCS shows that the median UK professional author salary is £10,500 per annum: not enough to feed the children, let alone put clothes on their backs. And this is the figure for professional authors. What about budding ones? I’d have to self-fund for months or years first? Not to mention the “growing pay gap” in which a female author can now expect to earn just 75% of their male peer’s income: less than £8k pa? Great, I’ll eat my baked bean and wear my bin bag, then.

So in summary:

  • my current job is in a state of flux and will remain so until at least March 2019,

  • my ideal job is undefined and I don’t have any qualifications, contacts, or support for it,

  • and my novel is a wonderful option but highly unlikely to pay enough to support my family.


So, new start, here I come. 


Sure, I clearly don’t know how this is going to pan out. The answers aren’t neatly lined up in a row — but life’s short, the world is exciting, and my children are growing out of their clothes. So I’m ploughing right on ahead with my new start even though I haven’t quite defined where it’s taking me yet.

I’ll work it out as I go, and it will fall into place because the steps are obvious. If I want to have a novel published, I need to write the book. If I want to work in organisations, I need to visit and talk to people. I want to collaborate, so that’s what I’ll do. Once I know what qualifications the job requires, I’ll get them. We’ll work it out.

As for Brexit: if that bunch of incompetents can find a way to get paid, then I’m damn sure I can.

And what about the scary health issues? Well, I guess they mean I’ll be talking to doctors (starting at 8am tomorrow), and they can help me work things out as I go.

Working things out as I go may not sound like an organised plan, but it could very well be part of one. Even within the most structured five-year-strategies, that is what we humans do from day to day. If I have objectives, and a broad strategy called “get on with it (and have a project plan by Christmas)”, then I’m good to go.

There’s usually more than one way up a mountain. This I know. And there are many mountains to climb. This I also know. You can climb lots of mountains very successfully if you go up one at a time.

So, grab your bags, boys, and any friends who want to come with us. We’re heading up.

See you at the top.


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