Today author, Sophie King, has written a guest post for Sheli Reads!
‘But I don’t want to start again,’ wailed a friend down the phone the other day. ‘It’s too difficult. And I’m running out of time.’
I know just what she means. Making a fresh start, whether it’s moving house or changing jobs or going through a marriage break-up, is often terrifying. In fact, not that many years ago, I went through all three in the same month.
Even now, when I look back, I wonder how I did it. In fact, I wouldn’t have managed if it hadn’t been for some very dear friends who helped me unpack and mopped my tears.
‘Do the next thing,’ advised one of them as I struggled to remain brave in front of the children. In other words, concentrate on the next job that needs doing. It might be making the kids’ packed lunches for school or it could be updating your CV. The trick is not to think too far ahead. Otherwise, your mind starts asking how you’re going to cope and before you know it, you’re drowning in the sea of unknown.
The other thing that helped, was routine. Until these life-changes, I’d been working as a freelance journalist from home. But when I became a single mum, I needed a steadier monthly income. So I became a writer in residence of a prison for two days a week (for three years) and I also trained as a writing tutor for adult education classes. That helped me get a job at Oxford University and also a local college.
Of course, new routines are scary at first. But it’s amazing how, before long, you get used to them. Even practical problems can be sorted. I had to leave the house at 7.15am for one of my jobs and was often unable to rouse my sleepy teenager for school by then. Luckily one of my wonderful new neighbours stepped in to help.
In fact, as I soon discovered, starting again meant meeting people whom I would never have come across in my old life. That gave me the idea for my third Sophie King novel, SECOND TIME LUCKY. It’s about three women and one man who all live in separate flats within a beautiful old house. Each one is beginning again: Molly is a widow who is convinced her husband is still alive; Louise is a single mother of two; Marcie is a home-sick American bride; and Roddy (whose family once owned the house) is desperate to make up with his estranged children.
Of course, I haven’t based my characters on any one real person. But I do know what it’s like to be on your own, which helped to describe their emotions. Each one of them finds a happy ending, although it’s not always what they thought it would be. But that’s life, isn’t it?
Luckily, I found my happy ending too. A rather unexpected one actually. I married a family friend and we now live by the sea – something that the children and I have always wanted to do. As for my friend at the beginning of this piece, I have to confess that I’ve teased you a bit here. She’s happily married and she isn’t changing jobs or moving house. No! She rang because she’d messed up her nine year old’s birthday cake and twenty guests were due to arrive in three hours time.
“No problem,” I assured her. ‘I’ll buy one on my way over.’
If only it was so simple with husbands…
If you’ve started again in life and would like to share your experiences, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also get in touch if you’d like details of The Sophie King Prize or would like to go on my mailing list. http://www.sophieking.info.