Thursday, 11 September 2008


Ok, I am prefacing this with the doubtless unwise promise that tomorrow we will have fun. Today I am whining again. You might want to just skip the following and go cackle at this. Or, better still, go and read about what Léonie has been getting up to.

You remember how I drew my brain ineptly a while back?

Well it seems to have shifted slightly. Now about a third of it is consumed by: wondering about the film they seem to be making in an empty car showroom on my route to work. Yesterday there were about 50 pallets of apples. Today there is a stuffed fox, and a stuffed duck as well as the apples. I want to just leave this office right now and go and stare open mouthed at the Belgian artistry on display. I mean, I would TOTALLY watch that film. I reckon it might be as good as the "Yoga for vegetables" film the CFO cruelly wouldn't accompany me to see last year.

The rest of it goes like this:

1. How do I get rid of Tony?

2. When can I resign?

Yes, I think I have decided to resign. I mean, it will probably take a while. I have to save a little money so we don't all have to eat stones or send the Eurospawn up chimneys. Lashes is getting far too big and objectionable for that, sadly. I also have to pay off various items of frightening footwear discussed recently on these pages.

I broached the subject with the CFO earlier in the week. He was euphoric about not having to go for dinner in Ghent with a group of tractor salesmen, so it seemed like a good moment.

"Can I stop working altogether and write a book?"

"Of course" (see, this is why I love him)

"Really? I promise to chop up all my credit cards and I'll fill in a spreadsheet of my spending if you want".

"You mean, we could have a BUDGET? Like normal people? Not, just you randomly throwing money around on BOWLS with no regard for the future?"

"I don't want to promise something I'm not capable of, but I promise to try".

I am mutating into one of those women from the maturer ladies' glossies, who have a little breakdown in their thirties, stop being ball-breaking financiers and go off fill a gap in the market for antique petticoats. But without the petticoats. I did make a "sausage tailed bee tiger" this week (photo to follow when my home internet providers STOP BEING STUPID BASTARDS, as an aside, this is also why I am not replying to email at the moment. Sorry. I am trying to sort it out. ) but I don't think there's much of a market for them.

The idea of stopping work makes me feel very odd for all manner of reasons. Raised and schooled in 1970s feminism, the idea of relinquishing financial independence makes me feel uneasy, even guilty. I did it once before when we lived in Paris, and it was hell. It does odd, and difficult things to the balance of power in a relationship (do you like how romantically I put that? Yes, the CFO and I are squaring up to one another for a geopolitical squabble over the price of bowls). I think, and hope, we are both a bit more grown up now, though. But will that be enough to stop us killing each other?

The Bearded One certainly won't understand. I think I might have to just pretend I still have a job for a couple of years, like those men who put on their suits every day and go and sit on a park bench. 'My daughter the lawyer' trips off his tongue unbidden all the time. If you listen to him, you could be forgiven for thinking I am the lawyer empress of Brussels, sitting astride a mountain of EU Regulations with my feet on a small heap of crushed eurocrats. A Belgian Patty Hewes, possibly with marginally less murder. He wouldn't mind if there was a little bit of murder though I think. As long as it was, you know, totally essential to the case and he could brag about it. "Yes, my daughter is a very important lawyer. She ripped a man's throat out with a staple remover you know, she's that dedicated".

It makes me think guiltily of my mum, too, who was fiercely independent. And awesomely high-achieving. But dammit, she really loved her job. She was passionate about it. I'm not - I can barely tolerate mine on a good day. I drifted into it for all the wrong reasons (fear? stupidity?) and I only stay because it keeps me in fripperies. It seems a waste to do something so dreary. I know I am in an extraordinarily privileged position to even have a choice - and in a way I think this makes it even more important that I exercise that choice to do something that actually makes me, and by extension, those around me, happy.

"But think of the shoes!" says Matilda, who is a ferociously good and dedicated lawyer.

"God, just do it. It will give me panic attacks, but do it anyway." says BMF

"We just got trapped in the wrong job and now we can't get out" says my friend Sue.

"We could both go on this icing course I'm googling!" says Violet.

"I have a great opportunity in Bratislava" says Tony.

What do you think?


justme said...

Go for it! Give yourself 2 years off, write a book, carve interesting things from vegetables and photograph them. It is soul destroying to work in a job that you hate and if you are lucky enough not to have to do it, give the alternative a try. After all, if it doesn't work out, Tony will still be there!

Léonie said...

Do it. Climb ev'ry mountain! (I have often been compared to the Mother Superior from the Sound of Music.)

Your euro-drone job is a nunnery and freedom is a thin-lipped and sternly sexy captain who has proven to be oddly fertile in a previous marriage.

P.S. If you wrote a book it would be awesome. You owe it to me to write a book (I'm not sure why you owe it specifically to me, but I feel strongly that you do).

La Belette Rouge said...

Write the book--but do not agree to silly budget or chopping up of the credit cards. Distract the CFO with talk of a profitable tortoise blog that will make you rich and famous among the tortoise community.

As a non-worker who should and could be a working profesional, let me assure you, not working isn't so bad. I do wish I spent more of my free time writing the book than I did searching for shoes. But, no non-job is perfect.;-)

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Hmm, having given up my financial independence and given up work, to become a full time mum, I think there are pros and cons. Too long to list here. But he will question your spending, you will argue about money, you will feel you have to do all the hoovering and toilet cleaning BUT it will be worth it to net yourself a book deal. Are you going to do a coffe table book about vegetables? I can see it in every home...

La Belette Rouge said...

I tagged lovely you. Please see my blog once you get this career thing figured out. ;-)

peevish said...

Go for it while you can! Your financial situation may not always be this comfortable, so best to leap now. Everyone deserves to enjoy life. And since most people in the world don't have this luxury means you should appreciate it even more. Denying yourself won't make anyone any happier, right?

P said...

I think you should do it. I would read your book and I would laugh (in a good way). You are a wonderfully talented writer.

The happiest and most fulfilled people I know work for themselves.

Maggie said...

Comfort your guilty working self with the knowledge that writing books is HARD. Or at least making them good is hard. Living up to your expectations is hard. It'll feel as much like work as work does some days.

That's meant to be encouragement in case you feel like you're leaving work for an illicit vacation, seriously.

Also, you can (depending on temperament) make a PLAN. Write an outline you're happy with in a month. Plan to finish a draft in a year. That sort of thing.

It would help with the terror of no job, anyway!

I am so excited you're doing this! And I can't wait to read the book! And the sequel! And the one after that! You're a fantastic writer, we know already, so my money is definitely on this turning into the BEST THING EVER.

(Very) Lost in France said...

Mme Jaywalker, go for it. If you don't try it you may always wonder.But don't cut up those credit cards. I have it on good authority that the CERN Large Hadron Collider will in fact swallow up all of our credit card bills and we'll owe nothing. VLiF (who needs to get off the sherry!)

livesbythewoods said...

Write a book. I'll buy it.

As long as it isn't shite, of course.

My funky new job will keep me in fripperies* and fol de rols** so I can send you a few quid now and then if you get tired of eating stones.

*train tickets

Parisgirl said...

Write the book. But at the risk of being a party pooper two evenings in a might be worth producing a proposal and sending it to agents/publishers before giving up work completely. Unless of course the CFO is happy to keep you in the style of shoes to which you are clearly accustomed. Just trying to be helpful!

Mom/Mum said...

I am with ACCTTF on this one. I would love to buy superfluous china and high heels, but since I gave up The Job, it's only the essentials on my shopping list. And I have to do all the bloody shopping now.
However if it means I can put my feet up with another good book, yours, then am with ya girl!

Rachel said...

Maggie is quite right. Writing a book is extremely hard work, so:

how much do you want to write one?
do you have an idea what it's going to be about?

Once you've answered the second question email me and I'll give you a list of agents to whom you should send a synopsis of your book and the first draft chapter.

Oh, and once somebody accepts you (getting an agent is a tough job), I'll give you the contact details of the forum 'Bloggers with Book Deals' - it is incredibly useful and not at all pretentious, as it may sound;)

P.S. Contrary to what many people think, unless you are JK Rowling, writing a book DOES NOT MAKE YOU RICH. Grrrrrrrr, have some people's approach to me angered me.
The pecking order is: a) bookshops, b) agents, c) publishers and d) the author. (I may have b and c mixed up.)

zoe said...

Sorry - Rachel was me - I look after her blog and forgot that I was signed in.


Dani said...

Which decision has the greatest potential for regret when you're a wizened old woman?

Which ever one it is, don't do that one.

I suspect you need to quit and try the writing gig.

parisgirl said...

Agree with Rachel/Zoe, but publishers are normally higher up the food chain than agents as they decide what gets printed.

The advice I have, for what it is worth, is not to try to turn the blog into a book. Write something original instead. People in publishing in the UK (I don't know about the US) think the blog-book market has peaked. In any case they don't sell that well even the surprisingly famous ones.

Zoe is also right about the money. I know lots of very good authors and writers. I do not know a single rich author and writer, though that may say more about my friends than about publishing!

Jaywalker said...

Thank you all for your confusing but lovely advice. You are all really wonderful.

Léonie, yours in particular is giving me vivid nightmares. Do you think I will have six children in close succession if I stop work?

I do have an idea and it is neither tortoise, nor blog, nor vegetable related. It might be shite, Lives by the Woods. Who knows?

I can probably also con some people into giving me money for occasional bits of eurodrudgery to keep me in nutritious stones. And I don't expect riches, just not to want to fashion paper stationery on my face rather than work every day might be nice, I thought.

VLiF your news about debt being swallowed by the mini big bang is most encouraging.

So. Thank you all. I am going to sit around and agonise for a little while longer, while the CFO tests my resolve by suggesting we holiday in a studio appartment with his parents to economise...

zoe said...

Another thing: quite a few authors work part-time, leaving the afternoons for writing.

I am SO for this and know many other authors who would say to you: don't give up the job.

SUEB0B said...

I went back to college when I was 40 and lived off my ex for those years. It did bring up quite a few ahem...issues between us.

I felt like I had to do 40 hours of work around the house, cooking, cleaning, tending to his every wish - to make up for my slacking (going to school every day AND working low-paid internships). So I eventually became cranky and resentful as he got lazier and lazier (which I was training him to be through my insecure need to make up for not bringing in a regular paycheck.)

It also felt strange, in social situations, to not be a "real" adult - to be starting over and be a rookie, low person on the totem pole. I felt like I had to justify myself.

That said, I am so glad I did it. I have a much more satisfying job and I make 3x the money I did before and I like my life much better. So that's MY confusing input.

Good luck!

Gervy said...

This post really spoke to me - especially, "I drifted into it for all the wrong reasons (fear? stupidity?) and I only stay because it keeps me in fripperies."

I am also "lucky" to have a well-paying but dreary job. I realise I am lucky because I know several people who earn a lot less for doing much drearier & harder jobs. Somehow that doesn't make me feel great about my job. The idea of chucking it in and doing something else more interesting but less well-paying is very appealing, but I do need an awful lot of fripperies. Will my gravestone read: "She sold her soul for fripperies"?

Like you I had a period of not working (we lived in NY for 6 mths for my husband's work) and it definitely made our relationship unequal and affected my self-worth. Think it might have been worth it though... it was so nice not to go to work and I never, ever got bored.

Iheartfashion said...

Do it!
I've spent the last few years diligently not-working and highly recommend it.
And I'll read your book.

parisgirl said...

I take back my comment about blog books not selling that well. That's what Bookseller Magazine opined, but Wife in The North is a best-seller. Good for her!
Go on, get writing!

Jaywalker said...

Hello Gervy/I heart/Parisgirl

Gervy - "I do need an awful lot of fripperies" is a good line, and so true, sadly. I might have to steal it.

I heart - I will! Yay! But I am plucking up courage because I know the chief Eurodrone will roll on me til all my bones break when I tell him.

PG - but she has sad and affecting and well written stuff with a narrative thread, and I have, um, vegetables. Oh well, is something to aspire to eh?

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