At the end of March all my cancer treatments will have finished, my sick certificate would have run out, and my manager will be dropping hints to me as large as house bricks a couple of weeks beforehand about returning to work.
There’s a rather large issue that can’t be ignored though. My voice is weak, virtually non-existent if I have to try and project it, and nothing except another operation will cure the problem. Sam, the protective hunter-gatherer, says give up work and stay home and write. He wants nothing more than to wrap me in cotton wool, and to sporadically come out of his office upstairs and bring me cups of tea as I write at my desk downstairs. I must admit, this procedure has served us both very well since the end of November, allowing me to finish two novels; one of which will be published by Second Wind Publishing in April/May.
However, my upbringing in London’s tough East End cannot be ignored. As soon as I left school at 18 I was told by my parents to ‘get a job’. Back in the mid-Seventies it was considered shameful to be non-productive and on the dole, and nothing pleased me more than being accepted into the adult world of work. I worked until I had my first child, stopping for a few years to complete my family and then resuming work again (as if bringing up two sons wasn’t work enough!). I’ve been working solidly for the past 20 years as a secretary, pleased to be able to contribute to the household budget.
Therein lies the problem; my job entails quite a lot of talking, which at the moment takes much effort on my part. I shall struggle in April trying to do my job, and yet if I give up work and stay at home and write, my earnings would be virtually non-existent. I was brought up to earn my keep and I can’t get the notion out of my head that I would be living a sort of parasitic existence, which is the complete antithesis to my upbringing.
So….what to do? Either go back to work and struggle as a grade 4 secretary, change to a grade 3 and earn less money but then become just a boring, brainless typing machine, or stay at home like Sam wants me to, be a kept woman, and write to my heart’s content all day but earn next to no money? What would you do?