People often talk about ‘sliding door’ moments to describe pivotal life events that could go one way or the other. (The ‘Sliding Doors’ film is a firm favourite).
It’s also one of the themes in my current writing project and has led me to look back at my own sliding door moments. Over the years there have been a good number and here are a few relating to work choices…
– Becoming a journalist. How many people get to do the work they have always dreamed of? This was a childhood ambition and I chose to ignore a po-faced school careers adviser who suggested that it might be a good idea to take up shorthand and typing to give the ‘option’ of becoming a PA or ‘secretary’ to use the old name. A fine job though not one for me. Instead I took a year out between leaving school and studying for a degree to do an accredited journalism course, while working full time to pay for it. By the way, I never did learn to type properly and still get by with a speedy one handed version.
– Local newspaper or specialist national magazine? My first job offer was on the weekly national SWT magazine aimed at social and residential care workers. Alternatively, I could have waited a few months longer to join a large respected local newspaper group as a trainee. In the end I opted for the more specialist route. It was only a six month trial period to start with but after being thrown in at the deep end, it worked out well. A door that led to a varied written journalism career, including feature pieces for a number of UK broadsheet newspapers/ magazines – something I’m still doing decades down the line.
– Stay in print or move into television? Around 5 years into my first journalism job – by which time I had gone from a rookie to senior reporter/feature writer – I spotted a national newspaper advertisement for a TV researcher at Central television. The programme – a network TV slot aimed at older viewers – fitted with my social affairs background. Predictably, there were a huge number of applicants and many already had television production experience. It was a two stage interview which included viewing some of their existing programmes and giving feedback. After watching the given selection of programmes, I liked some a lot more than others. Should I be honest and say this or just be diplomatic about them all?
It had to be the ‘honesty’ door. The comments seemed to go down OK and in the end I got the job. It meant giving up a magazine staff post for a more risky 12 month contract but was the start of a TV production career covering news/current affairs, documentaries and popular factual series, while working alongside some hugely talented people. That early interview call was a good one.
– A move abroad? In 2011 my husband Paul, a digital forensic expert, got the chance to go to Bermuda to work with the police service there. Should I stay put or go out there too? Of course I went and in the end we spent over a year in that beautiful part of the world. Although my ‘visitor’ status meant that paid work wasn’t an option, I did write a regular guest column for one of the island newspapers and completed most of my first novel ‘My Bermuda Namesakes’ while there. We made some lifelong friends too and yet another doorway well worth choosing.
So there you have it – a few personal sliding door decisions and I’ve learned along the way to always go with those gut instincts. If something feels right, then just move with it. If not, drop it and have confidence to take that alternative route even if it feels a bit scary. It really can be that straightforward
Here is an inspirational quote from fellow writer Jude Lennon about her own big sliding door decision to leave her teaching career and become a writer. A friend told her ’ Sometimes you have to take the leap of faith and grow your wings on the way down. Just make sure they sparkle!’
Jude has certainly done that. Check out her sparkly work on www.littlelambpublishing.co.uk