After two months working full-time (aaah! Thank goodness for all those bank holidays!), my contract ended yesterday. Yippee doo!

The only thing that marred my leaving was the fact that I couldn’t SKIP out, as I had promised myself I would (if only across the car park!) because earlier this week I sprained my ankle playing tennis and I can’t do anything faster than a shuffle. My foot looks like a rainbow (with an interesting purple stripe along the bottom). I would post a photo but it might put you off your dinner.

Something that kept me going during those long days were the daring daily emails I exchanged with my friend Julie, who works on the other side of town, which gave us both a giggle (in my case, a silent one). Subjects included: ‘Shock news’ (when someone spoke to me), ‘What’s that strange noise?’ (when the phone on my desk rang) , ‘The nicest email’ (“We are sad to see you go but we completely understand” – an automatic response when I unsubscribed from a website) and ‘The end is in sight!‘ (when I was told my contract, which was only supposed to be for 2 months anyway – was definitely ending). It was hard not to jump for joy.

Of course this means, in the short term at least, I am jobless! But, for the moment, I don’t care. The Well-Versed poetry-into-schools project starts next week, which I’m really looking forward to and I’m – finally – going to do some writing!

Right – I’m off for a celebratory glass of wine. Cheers!

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11 Responses to Freedom!

  1. Susan Jones says:

    Hi Helen,
    Enjoy your freedom. Funny post.

  2. Alex G says:

    Surely this can inspire a short story? Go for it! But listen, you’re never ‘jobless’ as a writer – your job is to brainstorm, write, send proposals, write, research, write… Are we ever ‘off duty’, I wonder? Hm – perhaps this is giving me the idea for a new post… Enjoy your time (and lie-ins..).


  3. Annette says:

    I’ve stumbled across this website and found the blogs great fun and of even greater interest re your writing..

    In Feb this year I sent 3 short stories off to Woman’s Weekly for their consideration plus 6 more 3 weeks later. The first 3 arrived back at the beginning of June with “thanks but not for us” and the second 6 “got lost in the post as they wre never received!”

    Needless to say, I’m disappointed as i had high hopes for one or two out of the 8. But I’ve used the time to re-edit so all is not lost!

    I had an interesting conversation with another on line writer recently about the quality of some of our published work. I had recently picked up a paper back written by, “one of the country’s favourite authors” and spent the first 8 pages mentally critiquing the grammar and constant repetitions! I did the same with her on line blog story! Not that I’m a professional in any sense but over 20 writing years I have discovered somethings `help` the reader and some things don’t!

    My colleague said it’s often about being lucky plus a fan base that sticks with you, irrespective of quality!!

    My cute question is: would you be willing to critique my 3 short stories for me; giving me some idea of why WW didn’t take any on board? (They are approx 900 words long so not too laborious. I’ve never written for mags before and would love to see one of my bits included).

    I will keep in touch.

    Thanks for a fun blog and your time.

    Annette x

    • Annette – I completely understand your disappointment with WW. It took me years to get my first story accepted by them and even now, I still get more rejected than accepted! It’s tough – not just in terms of sending them the kind of stories they want (which you can only gauge by reading and studying each copy of the magazine) but also, you never know what they’ve just accepted or got in the pipeline – if it’s something similar to your story, they will turn it down and that’s really bad luck. As much as I would like to help you with critiques I just don’t have the time – sorry (I don’t even have time to write my own stories at the moment, which my writing buddy, Sally Jenkins, will confirm!!). There are a few things you could do: a) join a writing class or group and get some feedback from others in the class – but you also need to be prepared to give them feedback on their work b) find yourself a writing buddy and swap work/give each other encouragement and feedback or c) pay for some feedback. There are 2 experienced and widely-published short story writers who will give you feedback on stories for a reasonable fee. One is Joanna Barnden – see Sally’s blog for more details: – and the other is Linda Lewis, who writes as Catherine Howard. Her website is here: I hope that’s some help. Good luck – and thanks for subscribing to the blog!

  4. Cheers!

    There’s no reason why you can’t go back once your ankle is better and skip down the road from just outside the office.

  5. Annette says:

    Many thanks for the encouragement!

    Until last year I belonged to a Christian writers site where we faithfully critiqued each others work. The five years I was there taught me alot and I trust vice versa. But the almost total American/Australian input revealed cultural differences more easily detected in our writings. I decided to look for an online writers group in the UK most as yet have found none suitable – the cost being the man problem for me as a retired lady!

    I have a book “His Banner Over Me is Love” is due out next March with Ellechor publications of America. Apart from some work included in `Al Risalet` a Lebanese Christian magazine, and some stuff put on tape for Torch Trust for the Blind, I have no other published work. Unless you count self publishing, which I fear is cheating a little! although I did do `Coffee Creams` for my church a couple of years ago!!

    I felt led to diversify and try my hand at romantic short stories. Plus children’s work. I currently have `Sam the Patchwork Whippet `on the go, with 2 adventures under his/my belt and 5 more in the offing. (Sam is our old boy who has led a traumatic but courageous life and deserves to be immortalise in print!). So far a few children’s publishers have said “nice story but not for us”. ;0(

    I have run a church magazine almost single handedly and enjoyed the challenge. Time is something I have a lot of now I’m fully retired ,and spend 4-5 hours a day on my pc socialising or writing..

    I will look up the links you gave me and perhaps I can sort something out. Many, many thanks for taking the time to advise and comment.

    Kind regards.

    Annette xx

  6. Annette – there is an online Womag fiction writing group that offer each other mutual critiques. You can find them at

  7. Annette says:

    What a star you are! This looks super – thank you! x

  8. Annette says: hoping to have fun here….and it’s free!!

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