Posted in Blog

Revelations

I have had this blog for nearly two years, but last January I made myself a promise in the form of a letter.

Dear January,

It’s time I stop kidding myself and finally start chasing my dreams. 2017 will be the year I stop lying to myself and start working towards the things I actually want in life. Hopefully, I will keep to that commitment.

Love

Katie x

(To January)

For the most part, I was successful. I graduated from university in November with a First Class in Creative and Professional Writing. Whilst I didn’t publish a book or start working in a publishing firm, I did find something that has been a complete and utter shock – in a good way.

I started working in a secondary school library. Whilst library work has always been something of a dream job to me, it was never something I saw myself doing. Mainly because the government seems determined to rid all forms of creativity from within schools (or at least make sure their worth and importance remain a mystery to unsuspecting children) and the fact that I felt like I had no experience within the field. But my boss saw my devotion, my passion for the written word and took a chance on me, a chance that I can only hope that I deserve.

Since starting in September, I learned a lot of things. Mainly, that I love this job more than I can ever describe. I knew I would enjoy it, but I didn’t think I would see myself love it as much as I do.

So yes. One aspect of my life did improve in 2017. But I did lie to myself. I lied a lot. I told myself everything was okay. That everything was fine constantly until I started to believe it.

But it wasn’t.

I have been lying to myself for longer than I have ever realised. A small portion of my mind lingers in negativity, constantly seeing failure when there is none. When I received my results, my first thoughts were not excitement or in celebration of hard work being paid off. When I was offered the job, my joy was quickly squashed by doubt, by worry. No matter how hard I try to see the positives in my life, I find my mind lingering on the negatives.

So, for 2018 I ask only one thing of myself: to embrace the achievements. To stop doubting myself because I can do it. I can be successful if only I believe in myself.

 

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Posted in Blog

Life after uni

Three years ago I had a vague idea of where I wanted my life to go. I wanted to complete my degree in Creative and Professional Writing with a first (although I thought it was more realistic to achieve a 2:1), and get a job in a publishers – preferably HarperCollins. Only one of those things came true, and it’s not the job.

During my final year, I started questioning everything I had planned for myself. Did I really want to be sitting behind a desk making other writer’s dreams come true when my own book would end up sitting on the side lines waiting for that ‘moment’ where things calmed down enough to focus on it? Did I want to be analysing the use of English day in, day out?

No, I really didn’t. In my final year, I found this new love for writing. I realised that this wasn’t something I regarded as a hobby – this was my first love. Having to self-publish a book for an assignment made me realise that I wanted that. A real book that another human being took interest and saw potential in. Ever since, I’ve been working on my first novel.

But that meant I had to let some dreams die. I realised that I needed a job that wasn’t going to be constantly fighting for my attention – so publishing was out. I considered working in an office, but knew I wouldn’t be passionate about it. I didn’t want to be crunching numbers for the rest of my life in order to make ends meet. I wanted to do something I loved.

But making a living as a writer seemed like a distant dream – and it still is. But whilst I was searching, I found a job that was beyond perfect. A school librarian.

I had briefly considered being a librarian, but jobs were scarce and I knew it would be competitive. Then when I was directed towards an opening in a school’s library I thought ‘this is too good to be true.’ I almost didn’t apply for the job. Why would anyone hire a graduate with no experience in anything other than light office work?

Still, I took the chance. By that point, I had received so many rejection letters that I was numb to it all. I didn’t think I had a shot in hell. Then they phoned to invite me in for an interview.

I still didn’t think I had a chance. My last attempt at an interview failed miserably and it had me doubting everything. I caught my bus afterwards dissecting everything I could have done wrong, convincing myself that it’s okay that the job went to someone else.

I wasn’t even half way home when they phoned me back to say the job was mine. My passion for books and enthusiasm for sharing that with kids won them over. Since starting in September, I have enjoyed every single moment I have worked there. it’s the perfect amount of challenging and interesting to keep me on my toes, but when I leave at the end of the day I’m not fretting over it. I can come home and read or write or watch TV in my pyjamas’s and not worry that something will fall through the cracks whilst my backs turned.

Of course, my goal is still to be a writer. I want to hold my book in my hands and know that every single word is mine. In the mean time, why not share my love for the written word?

Posted in Blog

August 14th, 2017

Today is one of them weird days. I don’t feel overly energetic, yet I want to seize the day. I want to go out and explore – make memories, yet the day’s almost over and I’ve been staring at a blank wall for most of it.

Of course, I could just try and force myself to do these things. But it’s harder than you think. I’ve been trying to pick up the dirty laundry for weeks but I’ve only managed to push it around my room until today. It’s gross and I hate living with shit on my floor but… I just have no energy to do it.

I don’t have energy to do much, actually. I’ve been wanting to read Stardust by Neil Gaiman since the end of last month. I started reading it, got a third of the way through and haven’t touch it since. I just…. can’t.

In all honesty, I actually think there’s something wrong with me. I’ve been having trouble sleeping again, constant plague of headaches and dizziness, and just zero energy to do anything. My dad thinks it’s because I have no purpose. I’m currently in-between employment, with no more university to kill the hours of boredom. I don’t agree with him, though. I’ve been feeling like this for quite some time and the lack of things to do has just made my feelings more obvious.

Of course he has a point though. Even though I haven’t felt 100% in quite some time, having a job and deadlines meant I was pushing through it. I prefer being busy to… sitting around at home waiting for someone to get back to me saying “Hey, we’d love to add you to the team!” Contrary to my dad’s beliefs, I do not like sleeping in to midday and staring into space. I’m 21 years-old.

This will not be my legacy.

There are so many things I want to do, so many things that are keeping me going. Namely, I’m currently in the process of writing my first book. It’s a huge pain in my ass, but all the great things are. I’ve taken a break from writing, mainly because I realised that there was no direction and I wanted to plot.

It’s helped. A lot. Just taking that step away from reaching writing quotas and really thinking about what I want to happen to my characters. It’s given me time to think about who they are, too. I guess I’m still in university mode where thinking about this on a deeper level was near impossible if you wanted to hand in on time. As much as I loved my dissertation idea, there were some gaping plot holes that bugged the hell out of me. Plus, every time I revised the plot, the story completely changed. It wasn’t consistent. I never reached the point where I thought “That’s it. That’s the story.”

It’s going to take time. That’s probably going to be the hardest part for me, staying patient. It’s going to take countless hours, numerous versions, and probably a bottle or two of wine (or vodka, whatever’s on hand. I’m not fussy) but I’ll get there.

 

Posted in Blog

Selling Yourself

The legal way…

It’s a concept that has always sounded… odd to me. It sounds dirty, like your selling your soul or a part of your body, but it’s actually the opposite. Well, not really but it’s certainly not as bad as it sounds.

Selling yourself is all about knowing how to appeal to employers. It’s about making sure you sound like the best candidate for the job on paper so they take the next step and offer you an interview (sometimes, even the job!)

 

5 (1)

1. Buzzwords are your new best friend

I know, I know. It’s the same tip everyone gives. “Make sure to say you’re ‘reliable’ and ‘efficient’ on your CV!” But there’s only so many times an employer can read ‘leadership skills’ and ‘IT proficient’ before they’re trying to gouge out their eyes.

Of course they are looking for these skills, but they’re also skills every average Joe looking for a job has. You need to be throwing out buzzwords that will draw their attention in.

Now that doesn’t mean throwing out random skills and terms in order to sound awesome. They’re not going to care if you can cook crème brûlée like nobody’s business if your applying for an office job! What the are looking for is someone who’s passionate, hard working, friendly, and can multitask their way through various projects.

The best way to make sure you are selling yourself is to read the job description. Then read it again. Print it out and highlight the skills if you must! The point is to know what kind of person they are looking to employ and then trying to make yourself sound like that person.

 

2. There is no such thing as the perfect CV

When I was in my final year of secondary school, we covered CVs. They taught us that we would only ever need one CV throughout our life, only updating the education and job section whenever we took on something new.

That was biggest load of bullshit I have ever heard.

Currently, I have about 6 CVs (more if you count the odd ones that are tailored to specific jobs). Each highlight a different skill/a different career I could apply for. In fact, even the ‘general’ CV I have that covers most admin jobs gets touched up every time I apply for a new job.

The point is, be prepared to write a billion CVs when job hunting because one will definitely not work for all.

 

3. The company’s ideals

Another one that sounds completely and utterly obvious when someone tells you, but not all of them think the way you thought they did.

I recently learnt from a friend who works at Primark that their only survey prioritises employees sticking to their designated sections. For example, if you were walking through another section back to your own and you spotted clothes on the floor, the correct response is to find the manager on the floor and alert them of the mess before retiring too your own. I was a little surprised at the revelation because, surely, you it would be quicker and more time efficient for you to clear the mess and retreat to your own section?

Long story short, it wouldn’t. In the eyes of Primark, staying to your section is key for keeping things on track. If you were to clean up all the messes you passed in Primark, you would never make it back to your own section meaning your section then gets behind.

It’s one of those things that make complete and utter sense when it’s explained to you, but when you’re applying for jobs you want to make the best possible impression and helping out where ever it’s needed is one of our automatic responses.

Of course, trying to figure out what the company actually want from their employees is a headache of itself. You’ll second guess everything and sometimes your answers will still end up with your application in the rejection pile before anyone actually gets to see your application.

The answer here is to research. If you come across a company asking you to fill out one of these surveys, make sure to google to application form. More often than not, you’ll find chat-rooms discussing just that topic.

You never know, you might just find the answer to getting through the application process.

 

4. Seek help

If, like me, you are currently unemployed and job hunting, the job centre is a god send. Not only do they help financially whilst you’re unemployed, but they guide you through the process of getting the job.

At the moment, I visit my local job centre once a week and sit down with my adviser. We sit and discuss what jobs I have applied for, what jobs I should apply for, and ways I can improve myself in the process.

Before signing on, I would have never considered it. In fact, I was quite content on never doing so and going about it solo. Whilst the tactic works for some, I quickly realised that it wouldn’t for me. I didn’t know what I was doing, or where to begin my quest for permanent employment. I was, and still am, completely out of my depth.

So I grit my teeth and sought help. And it is worth it. Not that long ago I went to a job fair at the job centre. It was far my beneficial to my quest than I thought it was going to be.

 

5. Make an impression

When you finally do get that interview, you need to leave a good impression on everyone you meet. From the moment you step into the building, turn the charm on. Smile, be polite, and most importantly, be friendly.

Some employers do not just go by their feelings on you in the room. They seek the impressions of those working on reception. Anyone you meet in the building could be a test, so you have to make the best impression.

When you walk into the room to meet your interviews you must make sure you smile, meet their eyes, and shake their hands  (if possible) before you sit down. By smiling your showing you are friendly. Most people respond to a smile with their own, and it helps in remembering you. Eye contact is one of those subtle listening techniques, but it also shows that you are confident. of course, you don’t want to over do by staring at one person for too long and coming across like a serial killer.

Lastly, the hand shake. It is well known that a good, firm handshake says more about your character than anything else about you.

 

*

 

And that’s all the advice I can muster up for one blog post!

Why not leave your own advice in the comments below?

Posted in Blog

July 24th, 2017

I’m lost.

Not literally, of course.

I’ve officially been job hunting for a month this week. And I’m still searching…

Searching…

Searching…

 

I’ve been asked numerous times by countless number of people about what I want to do after university. I’m guilty of asking the same question to some of my uni friends…

But the answer is hard. I could get an average-Joe job in some shop just to bring some money in. But I want to be passionate about what I do. I want to wake up in the mornings and think ‘yay, it’s work day!”

I know that’s what everyone wants from a job, but it would suck for me to go from doing something I love for three years straight to… mind-numbing boredom at a job I don’t need a degree to do.

It would make the last three years pointless.

As it stands, I’m trying to find an office based job, or, if possible, hotel receptionist. I’m selecting the roles that seem interesting that can still inspire me to write on the side because…

I want to be a writer.

Yeah, yeah. I know. How obvious. I’ve been keeping a blog the last couple of years – who hasn’t figured that out?

But in the last year I’ve decided that I really want to pursue it. I’ve never been so driven to write before and… I’m actually making better progress on my first novel than I thought was ever possible.

I’ve tried writing novels before, both before my degree and during, and they never got any further than the idea stage. It was hard trying to write when I knew I needed to be focusing on my studying – so guess which one was put on the bottom of my priority list.

Now I feel liberated. I try to sit at my computer and write for a couple hours a day. No thinking, no editing – just pure and simple writing. And in those few hours, I feel… incredible. The higher the word count goes, the more I feel like I can actually finish a manuscript. The more I feel like less of a fraud for calling myself a writer.

I’m not sure if this will be my first novel. I’m not even sure If I want it to be. What I know is that, whatever the outcome, I will feel accomplished.

Posted in Blog

Web Free Catastrophe

We’ve not had internet in my home town the last couple of days.

Okay, so my house (fortunately) had (spotty) internet but a lot of houses were left without after some builders accidentally cut through some fibre optic wiring. Today was the worst of it as we lost internet complete for a few hours.

All in all, it’s not the end of the world. I took this as a chance to do some light reading (and thank the lord my attention span for books has returned. I really have missed reading). But, going by my towns ‘gossip’ page it was.

Honestly, all anybody does on that page is moan about everything. It just so happened that today’s theme was lack of broadband covering area. It’s the sort of moaning I expected from my younger brother who’s constantly glued to the computer screen. But these were adults – I don’t mean people around my age. I mean adults around my parents age.

It’s sort of funny when you look at it that way, though. My parents are constantly moaning at my brother to go out and play. Yet they were complaining more that he was this afternoon. I think it’s because they’re actually more reliant on the internet than he is. He can still go out and kick a football at a fence (… well, not really. He does have a broken arm at the moment, but normally he would). But what could they do?

Mum might have picked up a book (if she could only remember where she had put them), but Dad’s more reliant that my brother. Seriously, at the moment he’s addicted to playing pool (the kind of addicted that he’s even confessed to playing it on the loo).

It’s like the last time we had a power cut. My brother and I were fine. I read and he played Lego. But my parents were completely and utterly lost for what to do without the T.V.

Some times, it’s really nice to be reminded that the older generations are more reliant on technology than the youngsters.

Posted in Blog

July 4th, 2017

There’s something to be said about accomplishing a goal.

It’s not much mind, but I am officially past the 10,000 word count for my first novel. I’ve got to say, it is completely and utterly liberating.

I mean, sure. It’s taken me a month to get to this point. But in that month I’ve moved house, travelled to London twice, signed on, and done countless errands for my family. it’s been a busy month. And really, I’ve only truly been writing for the last two weeks.

I shouldn’t be trying to justify my excitement, I know. But it’s something I have come to learn about myself recently.

I feel I need to justify every action I make, especially if it results in something I’m proud of.

That, or I belittle the achievement.

*Sigh*

Anyway, at least I know now that 10,000 words in a month is completely and utterly achievable (especially as I was not writing every day either).

Now I have the wonderful task for planning to write the next 10,000 words. And then the next 10,000 and so on and so forth until I have the vague idea of what the story is.

Then the fun part begins: editing.

 

Posted in Blog

The Problem With Job Hunting

A guide by a recent graduate.

 

Ah, the big bad world. What a delight! All this free time to write and frolic about…

What was that?

A… A job?

There are many things in this world that I will always be delighted to do. Unfortunately, Job hunting is not one of them.

What they don’t tell you…

It’s not that I expected to find a job easily after completing my degree. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I knew that I was going to struggle.

See, I’ve done one of those silly things and pursued something that I love rather than something that will guarantee a job – like a science or maths. I pursued something that employers in the field would rather you have experience in rather than a degree.

So basically, I shot myself in the foot.

What they also don’t tell you is that having one CV for all the jobs you want to apply for won’t work. You have to cater each one to each job you apply because, even if you’re applying to retail jobs, each contain a unique aspect that won’t work for any of the others.

To say I’m tired of job hunting is an understatement.

Alas I will persevere because I really need the money to survive.

 

The other thing with job hunting? How none of the jobs actually appeal to you but you’re under a enormous amount of pressure to find one so you start applying for literally anything. Then you get told “why are you applying for that? You’ll hate it!”

Yeah, thanks Mum. Really hadn’t considered that.

I wish there was an easier way to go about this. Like some magic Fairy God Mother (or Father) who waves their magic wand and… Bibbidi bobbidi boo, you have a job!

Yeah, yeah. I know that’s what the Job Centre is for but, let’s be real, how hard are they trying to get you a job?

So far, all I’ve been told to do is spend a minimum of 35 hours job searching. That’s grand and all, but I was already doing that (well, maybe not 35 hours, but definitely actively searching jobs).

But that’s the thing. Because I’ve signed up for the Job Centre, I feel obligated to apply for everything, regardless of the fact that I do not feel qualified or excited to do any of the jobs.

Oh well, I suppose that’s the down falls of being a grown up.

Hopefully I can write this book in the next year so I won’t have to live in the working world for too long.

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Happy Fathers Day!

Today actually marks two celebratory days in the Sandifer Household: Fathers Day and Mum and Dad’s 29th Anniversary.

Needless to say, they have both been spoiled (well, Dad more than Mum but that’s kind of expected).

We took them out to dinner last night because Dad had today off but is back to work Monday and he wanted to have a drink (or three). It was a good night. Well, except for the part when we were walking home and a guy came running up to us from the pub at the bottom of the road to ask if we had any gear we could sell. Bit odd, considering we were a large group with my little brother in the midst, but we laughed it off.

Today we’re having a much more chilled day. Dad’s decided we’re having a BBQ tonight so we’ll sit in the garden with some music and drinks and just have a nice chilled day.

Anyway, that’s enough from me today.

Posted in Blog

Bump in the road

Shit.

Here was me thinking that I had everything planned for post-university life, but no. Somebody (me) decided to throw a wrench into that plan.

A year ago, I wanted to apply for the HarperCollins Graduate Internship Scheme. It was the only thing I wanted. By the time the applications opened, I began to apply and then I… stopped. It really wasn’t what I wanted anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. The internship sounded amazing and my dream is to work with HarperCollins in some shape and form, but it wasn’t for me. Not anymore. I knew from working on The Gallion (a student-led creative writing anthology) that editing is not for me. As much as I love reading other writer’s work, the moment I put my editing glasses on I found it completely draining. The work I liked in the beginning, I ended up hating due to the sheer amount of errors I was finding.

So I knew the internship wasn’t for me. But now I’m kind of just floating in an abyss with no idea what to d next.

I know I want to write a novel this year and I’ve actually made headway in that aspect. But that doesn’t bring in the bacon. I need to become financially stable so I can help around the house and actually fund some of the research I want to go on for my novel (well, it’s more of an accessory to the writing, but still).

I’ve considered a wide range of jobs and have only applied to one so far (it’s one I really, really want. The job could not be more perfect for me). I’m sort of self-sabotaging myself at this point. I’m not chasing after the things I want to do because I know that once I do… that’s it. I’m in the rat race and I probably won’t be leaving till I’m old and frail and wondering what happened to my life. I’ll regret never writing the novel, or going on those epic journeys of self-discovery that movies love to dedicate to women in their 20s.

So yes, this is my bump in the road. I’ve derailed my life slightly, but isn’t that the point? No road is ever perfectly paved. There are cracks and bumps that make your journey a little more difficult. But you have to remember why you started down that road in the first place.

I went to University because my passion is to write. I wanted to better my craft and meet like minded people. I don’t want to stop doing that. I don’t ever want to give up on something that brings me so much joy and excitement.

So I need to persevere. I need to stop making excuses for myself because, yes. There is time – there always has been time. I need to stop fearing success and start trying to achieve it.