Or How I Prefer to Organise My Life in Compartments
“So you have two minutes. Talk to the person in front of you about what you do outside of work.” Panic.
Speed dating at work is not as weird as it sounds. As part of a ‘getting to know your colleagues better’ about 70 of us were being almost overwhelmed by a cacophony of sound as we shuffled up the chairs in two minute bursts talking to people we have only seen at the tea point, maybe nodded to in the lift. The very definite brief was not to mention work but to talk about what else was important in your life.
I was not entirely surprised to find I couldn’t do it. I talked about the fact that I am a member of a running club, I had two daughters, we liked to go camping. And the usual reading, cinema and perhaps theatre if I was really trying to impress the person who had wriggled up in front of me. All the time I was willing the little bell to jingle so the person in front could move on and we would have avoided running out of things to say and I might have felt compelled to say the words out loud.
Not once did I mention that I had written an adult novel and a children’s novel or that I had a writing blog and Tweeted regularly about the challenges of writing whilst holding down a full time job. Why not?
I’m not really sure. Anyone who has read any of my previous posts will recognise a theme coming through here that seems to be driven by embarrassment that although I write I am not published. These are the people I work with. In order to do my job well I ought to have the respect of my colleagues especially my team. Wouldn’t that be undermined by them knowing I slave away bashing out stories to send them off on a wave of excitement and hope only to have them volleyed back with a no thanks, not good enough?
The unexpected benefit of writing blog posts is that it gives me the chance to consider things that have been bothering me. Maybe I would set an impressive example in creativity and resilience if I confessed to my secret hobby. Never give up, keep your passion in your life etc etc. Writing is part of who I am and what I like to do, so shouldn’t I be out and proud about it?
But then: “How’s your book doing?” I am reminded that whenever I pop into the pub on a Friday to meet my friends, the questions about the book comes up. They are my friends, they are interested, they want me to do well but I find myself embarrassed to say that the only progress since I last saw them is that there are one or two additional rejections added to the pile. I’m not sure I could cope with that at work as well.
So I find I continue to keep it a secret. I have developed a series of coping mechanisms to fend off questions about what I have been up to at the weekend when I have been on a writing course or what I have planned for my days off when I am going to be bashing away on my laptop for two days and most of all where I would like to see myself in five years’ time which is of course on a Book of the Month list somewhere.