Friday 17 February 2012

What would my 20 year old self think of how I turned out?

When I was 20 I was at Nottingham University studying Food Technology. I hadn’t thought much about careers especially since employment prospects for graduates were said to be the “worst they had been for a generation”. I assumed I would look for a job in the food industry but where, when and what never crossed my mind. I had a regular girlfriend – I’ve now been married to her for over 30 years – and a group of close friends all of whom I still regard as close friends.

I would have been shocked to find out that I only lasted three years in the food industry before changing careers and becoming a further education college lecturer. When I was 20 I didn’t know myself well enough to realise that I was going to find working for people as opposed to working with people a source of great personal unhappiness. I hated most of my time at United Biscuits and the only positive thing I gained was the reference that got me a lecturing job down in Somerset.

When I was 20 I never thought I would travel the world or achieve greatness in my career. And of course I never did. I certainly never would have guessed that I would end up spending much of my working life in a career that didn’t even exist when I was at university. As for living in rural Shropshire, engaging in creative writing and attending a “Walking for Health” group. No way!

“You did what!” just about sums it up.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Deep breath - then start again

I started this blog with the best of intentions. I thought that I would have the time and the inclination to post 2 or 3 times each week. But as you can see that never happened and 11 posts in August shrank down to 7 in September and down to just 2 in October. Since then silence has reigned.

Now I am not always like this. I write a weekly column for the astronomy group VSNET-CHAT and I have never missed a deadline. Not once, ever. So what was the problem with this blog? Why did it fail? I think I set myself an unrealistic target and when I couldn’t reach it I felt disheartened and rather than simply modifying the target I gave up entirely.

The best solution seems to me to widen the scope of the blog and to set myself the target of posting at least 250 words once a week. So this blog is now going to cover the whole range of what I do, what I think and who I am. The attraction of this change is that I don’t really know the answer to the last question. My nearest and dearest are surprised at my sudden enthusiasm for writing fiction and they are getting slightly weary of the number of times the work I am doing with E + E comes up in conversation. Against all my previous ideas about Martin the person the creative and the emotional parts of my new daily routine matter to me. Matter a lot.

This week I was emailed by an amateur astronomer with a particular interest in double stars. Nothing unusual there except that he wanted to buy a copy of the double star software I wrote with the late Hannah Varley. To cut a very long story short. Hannah was in her early 30’s when she got cancer. Treatment was unsuccessful and she went into a hospice to die, but then against all medical expectations she partially recovered and started doing odd pieces of work with me to improve the software. With no warning our almost daily email exchanges stopped and a few days later I was told she had died. The software is like a little piece of Hannah that lives on and the thought of it being used by somebody who didn't know her or her sad end is just something I cannot cope with. So I turned them down.