In just under six weeks I’ll be walking away from a forty-three-year career in the bean counting industry and assuming the mantle of full-time author. No, I’m not taking a wild leap of faith into the void; I’m not about to retreat into a bohemian garret, wrap myself in rags and survive on oats and warm myself on half a candle; I’ll be taking my pension early to provide an income. Some might call it retirement. I call it a career change. I will not be retiring from anything; I plan to be putting in long days doing the thing I have loved doing for so many years, but without all the financial angst that comes from the fantasy of ‘following the dream’.
|I have this on my desktop - my slice-of-cheese countdown spreadsheet.|
I’ve already begun the emotional upheaval: bad dreams, anxiety, doubts, sweaty palms. Will I be able to write for hours at a stretch? Will I have anything to write about with no ridiculous work experiences to draw upon? Will I still enjoy doing it?
You don’t work for the Man for 43 years and not have your brain become somewhat hard-wired into a configuration that would no longer pass the Turing test. The wilting cabbage that I keep between my ears is going to need a period of de-toxification before I can become a normal, functioning human being again. The transition might take a while, but I will have the time. I commute 1 hour, sometimes 1hr 30mins, twice each day, so there’s an extra ten to fifteen hours per week to play with just for starters.
In forty-three years I have learnt stuff. Most of it will cease to have any relevance whatsoever. I’m the go-to guy for Excel spreadsheet solutions, but at home I use a Mac. I have professional qualifications; I will have to let them go - the double annual membership subscription would put me in that garret with the oats and candles, believe me. Letting go will be hard, though. I still remember the delight/pride/relief of the day I passed my finals after more than eight years of toil and struggle. Accountancy is not a discipline that ever came naturally to me. The organisation I work for (at least for the next six weeks) is big, with a European parent. I’m a Finance Manager. I have contacts and associates. My social circle is about to shrink from one that crosses time zones to one that I can enfold in my arms.
Change. Wow. It will be interesting.
If all the above sounds negative, it’s not. I’m pumped. My writing time at the moment is shoe-horned into a thirty-minute lunch break in the coffee shop just over the road from the office, plus whatever time I can force in the evenings, and depends on how nightmarish any given commute home turns out to be. I don’t write well in the evenings. I do write well at lunchtime, but being ripped out of the flow after just half-an-hour of creativity by the call of duty, to go back and stare at numbers, is just horrible. But in five weeks and three days it will end. I’m going to make writing fun again. I can’t wait to untether.
I will document the process here: The last weeks and days of servitude. The transition. The new life. If you are undertaking or considering a similar journey, then who knows, maybe my experience of massive life change will help. Or at least it might give you laughs.