Ch-Ch-Changes by Eve Ainsworth
Three years ago I made a decision. This was a big deal for me. I’m not good on making decisions. I’m the type of person you see dithering in Sainsburys, trying to select a yoghurt – whilst my husband is ranting next to me ‘FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST PICK ONE, PLEASE!”
But this time I was quite certain I needed to change things. I had a good job, well paid, well regarded and one I’d trained hard for. In theory I should’ve stuck it out. The pension was good, the hours weren’t bad etc, etc. But I hated it. Every day, I’d drag myself in and stare bleakly at my piles of paperwork. I was unmotivated, bored and by now pretty rubbish at my job. I wasn’t doing myself or the role any justice.
I wanted to write and I knew at this point that I wanted to write for teens. Trouble was, I lacked experience. How could I write about something I had limited knowledge of? So I made my big decision, I applied for a job in secondary school.
And everything changed.
Initially my position was a pastoral one, supporting teenagers with a range of issues from homework concerns, to anxiety, to bullying, to problems at home. From day one, I didn’t stop. I was swept up in a new energetic and fresh world. I didn’t have time to reflect and sit at my desk, I was constantly on the move – supporting students from one crisis to the next. And I bloody loved it.
I rolled home, exhausted but energised. The writing seemed to come easier. I would slot in an hour every night and make myself type, using the hour when my husband put the kids to bed – so time was extra compromised and It didn’t matter what I wrote. I just made myself write something in that hour. Then I’d flop out on the sofa, a washed out wreck.
And that’s how Seven Days was completed.
Last year, I moved into a new role at the school. Child Protection. I knew it would be taxing, but it was also an area that I felt passionately about. I started the job full of the same energy and commitment, but within months it was clear things were different now.
Whereas before, I could come home and switch off – enabling me to write. Now, I would come home and still churn cases through in my head. I’d worry about the teens that were left without answers. I’d fret about the girl returning home to her drunk, abusive dad and the girl who’d just told me she wanted to die.
I enjoyed the role, in as much as I worked hard at it and cared a great deal for the teenagers I worked with, but I could already see it was having an impact on my writing time. I’d find I was writing at unstructured times, when my brain was more alert, which didn’t really suit me. I was fortunate to be working term time hours, as the majority of my second novel were written in the holidays, with family helping with childcare.
But now I missing out on time with my own kids. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wasn’t just a tired out wreck, I was an unhappy one too.
So three weeks ago I made another big decision.
I resigned from my job.
And now a new chapter starts.
Eve Ainsworth’s debut YA novel, 7 Days is a contemporary dual narrative novel focused on bullying will be published by Scholastic in Feb 2015. A second contemporary novel will be published in 2016. Eve formerly worked in a large secondary school, as a Child Protection Officer, whilst also concentrating on her writing. Eve has had competition success with her short stories, most recently in Prima and Writer’s Forum. A short story has also been published in The Weekly News. Her previous Young Adult novel, The Art of Kissing Frogs, was shortlisted for the Greenhouse Funny Prize (June 2012). She lives with her husband and two slightly nutty children in Crawley, West Sussex.