The Roads Newly Taken

[Warning: The rocky trail ahead is just me placing the needle back on my same broken record. Am in pausing-to-take-stock mode, and writing is my way of therapeutically reflecting through it, so please don’t feel you need to keep reading if you’ve already heard all this crap. :)]

It’s been a lot of work and reinvention of my professional self this last decade and a half, what with making the Finance-to-Education career move and then the USA-to-UK geographical move that abruptly demanded I figure things out all over again…just when I’d had it all sorted. I was happy as an English teacher, truly, and gave a go at teaching in London. But let’s just say I know the joy to be found in teaching, so when I found myself treading water through an unpleasant situation that didn’t let me fully be who I am, well, signs to move on simply don’t come clearer than that.

I was devastated having my professional playing field leveled on moving overseas, but I find myself looking back on these last three and a half years—which had always felt rather random and drifting—and seeing what I’ve been doing in that time is finally starting to gel. I think. Even when I was teaching and loving it, my primary love for the English language and literature that I instructed naturally fed my dreams of also becoming a writer and editor. So, I’ve been biding my time writing web content and editing fiction on a freelance basis, and I’m on the cusp of finishing a second novel. And while my editing to date has been for the same small publisher, I’ve just been approached for my first outside gig and am thinking of shaping that independent role into something more official.

Baby steps.

The querying and job-searching continues as I seek to ultimately become a published writer and full-time editor. It’s humbling to compete with so many talented writers likewise seeking publication, and it’s humbling to compete with young graduates for the same in-demand entry-level jobs. I’m 35 with a Masters degree and CFA and have applied for an unpaid internship, for cripes sakes. It’s fair to say I officially checked my ego at the door in 2008. And now I’m wriggling and fussing a bit, as we newborns will do while we wait for our sight to sharpen and learn new uses for our arms, legs, and minds.

But in the meantime, best thing I can do is keep cultivating mah skillz, yo—hoping they pave a relevant path toward what I suppose is shaping into a third freaking career. And London itself just continues being its wonderful, literary self for me to absorb and enjoy, introducing me to Charles Dickens’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Lucinda, last week and various publishing professionals last night in the very space Sir Laurence Olivier dressed and rehearsed for his stage debut. Ahh, London. I love ya.

So can you tell I’m just feeling out my sense of validation here? Glad I warned ya? Not to worry—I’m very content. I just need to stop now and then to assess the situation…because I work just as hard now as I ever did, but without the compensation or recognition. Fine, I guess I’m not money-motivated. But I’d also always been one of those people who functioned best within the straight-and-narrow, doing everything I was supposed to with clear goals in mind. MY goals, fending for myself. And then I became someone’s wifey. And then supporting his goals resulted in resetting mine (no small feat when you’re as stubbornly independent and feisty as me and will rage against anything threatening your autonomy and inner life). And now that my never-expected-to-have-to-set-new-goals-so-soon new goals are finally clarifying, the road to reach them, I see, is a little less marked and a lot more meandering than what I’m used to. In fact, it looks to me like there are multiple pathways still lying ahead, some flat, some steep, some wide, and some narrowly hugging a cliffside. All of them, though, appear to converge on the horizon…so I guess it’s time for me to just stuff my yapper with a protein bar and take a hike. 🙂


About thefallenmonkey

Primate that dapples in writing when not picking others' fleas or flinging its own poop. View all posts by thefallenmonkey

13 responses to “The Roads Newly Taken

  • Eva

    This is amazing. 🙂

  • Glen

    That feels like a 1 AM kebab moment of reflection. You have done amazing to be who you are right now. Did you hear yourself? Just finishing your second novel!! Honestly. We’d all like to be rich etc. but YOU HAVE WRITTEN A NOVEL! As much as it will make no difference to how you are feeling – you should know that this fact impresses the hell out of me EVEN IF IT NEVER EVER GETS PUBLISHED. It is just an amazing feat in its own right. You have done loads and still have much to do – all this is brilliant. You have lots and lots of time – there is no age limit you know? I may have misjudged the tone of your post but if not then look at yourself in the mirror and just do one thing for me.

    • thefallenmonkey

      “a 1 AM kebab moment of reflection” – ah, I love it! That’s SO what it is! Mmm, doners…
      You know, Glen, I didn’t even have to look at my reflection in the mirror – your comment alone made me smile. 🙂 I am so, so moved that you took the time to write me such thoughtful encouragement. I promise that I’m not as down on myself as my post might have implied, but that isn’t to say I haven’t been super low about it in the past. You’re right, though; there is time. And I think I’m finally starting to learn that there’s not a designated age for having everything figured out…and that it’s probably a blessing that I haven’t carved myself into a cozy little monotonous rut too early on. At any rate, I definitely feel on the right track, and I do feel the tremendous accomplishment of completing the projects I set for myself and helping others with theirs. YOU are amazing, and I thank you for being such a friend. 🙂

  • Milo James Fowler

    You just keep on cultivating them skillz, yo! =] And remember, hike or hike not; there is no path. (I’m confusing my movies again, dang it.)

  • Alannah Murphy

    Sounds like you’ve had a slightly convoluted path to get yourself to where you want to be, but I’m happy to hear things appear to be looking up and that you’re feeling more content. That is very important indeed 🙂

    I wish I could say I’m doing the same, but I’m still stumbling around in the dark, with only my boy Julian for company, at least he’s holding a candle as he walks with me, so he is about the ONLY certain thing in my life…

    • thefallenmonkey

      Thank you, Alannah. I certainly have my dips that feel anything but content, but in general, I’m able to keep perspective and realize that all this has been good for me.

      This Julian of yours sounds like quite the gentleman. 🙂 Never let go of him, as he WILL show you the way. Your belief in him and his story has been such an inspiration to me and the other writers who follow you, so I don’t even question that magic lies ahead for you both.

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