Squeezing It All In – Making Space For Your Passions

April 26, 2014 | By | 25 Replies More

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week, as I left the University campus, I caught a glimpse of myself in a classroom window and smiled. I had come from the library with a laptop and books in a bag across my shoulder and a carrier bag of another five books in my right hand.

In my left hand I was checking my messages and sending a text to my husband to say I was on my way home. I looked confident and I looked happy. So different from the day I first started back at Uni.

On my first day, as I returned to University as a mature student, I had been nothing more than a panic-stricken mess. I worried that I’d be the oldest person in the class and that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the work. Why had I taken out such a large loan to study for a Creative Writing MA when I’m a self employed singer-songwriter, middle-aged wife and mother of two and part time carer to an ageing Mum with dementia – not to mention flat broke?

The truth is I’m passionate about music and I’m passionate about writing fiction. It’s just that I came to both later in life and we all know that the later we leave things the more likely it is that we would have accumulated a great many other interests along the way. Not only do these other interests mean that we have to squeeze anything extra into smaller slots of time but sometimes they prevent us from taking on something new.

With the music, although I sang in lots of bands since my early twenties I only became a professional musician in my mid-thirties. As I already had two children by then it was not easy to go touring and be in as many places as might have helped me improve my career. But I love to write songs and perform.

I quite happily squeezed the day job out of my life but managed to squeeze in a lot of doubt and uncertainty about where my next pay cheque was coming from. Luckily taking on the music proved a viable choice. I was making money, nothing like Madonna or Beyoncé, but I paid the rent, kept the house going, happy husband, children fed and watered. Everything was going fine. Why change it?

HP2 72As I said before, the older we get the more interests we accumulate, even if that means adding more pressure and stress to our lives. Another interest came to me. In my mid-forties, for the first time, I began to write. A story which had been rolling around in my head kept popping up and characters from the story wouldn’t leave me alone.

I had recently bought a new laptop and clicked away enthusiastically on the keys. In some ways I felt as though I was betraying the musician in me. I was doing fewer and fewer gigs, teaching vocals rather than singing and getting more into the idea of having a book published than to be in the recording studio.

But I was not about to squeeze the music out. Music is so much a part of me that whilst editing the book I was recording songs and released my second album in September 2013 while awaiting the publication date of my first novel by a small publishing company called Indigo Dreams. Somehow I had managed to keep both the music and the writing going. I’d helped my oldest son move out and got my youngest son to 9 swimming training sessions a week along with karate, rugby and goodness knows how many other sports. I also wrote a collection of short stories as a follow up to the first novel.

Then, as if the excitement of releasing an album and becoming a published author wasn’t enough, I decided to go back to University. It was my husband who backed me all the way when I said I wanted to study. I wanted to become the best writer I could and thought that experience wasn’t enough – I wanted to do this MA in Creative Writing. It was about that time that the idea for novel number two came along and I started researching like crazy and made a start on it in November of last year.

The panic of going to University at age 51 calmed to a mild form of hysteria during the first term. I was able to keep it under control without drawing too much attention to myself. Red wine and dark chocolate helped a great deal I have to say. And, as it turned out, I was the oldest person in my class but when the results of the first assignments came back I had managed A’s and B+’s. My mild hysteria began to disappear.

Women are known to be great multi-taskers and I’ve had to learn how to up my game as a multi-tasking Mum, wife, musician and writer. I am that confident and happy woman in the reflection and I put it all down to finding the things that make me passionate. I have to admit I’m pretty tired at times but I will carry on juggling and multi-tasking for as long as I can. If you feel inspired to do something, don’t put it off, squeeze it into your life. Squeeze something out if you have to but always follow your passions.

Fran Clark was born and currently lives in West London. Her first novel, Holding Paradise, is published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. Fran is studying for a Creative Writing MA at Brunel University. A professional-singer songwriter and vocal coach, she recently released her second album of original songs. She is now working towards the completion of her second novel.
Find out more about Fran on her website and blog www.franclark.co.uk  franclark.blogspot.co.uk

Like her on facebook www.facebook.com/FranClarkAuthorPage

Follow her on twitter @FranClarkAuthor

Holding Paradise Book Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMgXbD51wQk


Category: Contemporary Women Writers, On Writing

Comments (25)

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  1. Lovely, Fran! You’re an inspiration. Congratulations, and best wishes as you continue your amazing journey.

  2. Lisa says:

    Hi Fran,
    Wow, you are Superwoman! Good on you for investing in the things you love, especially in such a committed way as university. I too have been making an effort to do the things I enjoy (painting and writing) and whilst I haven’t tackled anything as serious as you have, I am so much happier having made the effort to do something. It even inspired my blog.
    Nicely done!

    • Fran says:

      That’s fantastic Lisa! Since leaving university I’ve found had some new opportunities present themselves and I’m still managing to ‘squeeze’ it all in:)

  3. Robin Smith says:

    I wanted to add my voice to say this article is inspirational. Busy is one thing, but we have to remind ourselves that too busy for what makes us feel great and connected and creative — that’s just way too busy!
    I cut out time to write my children’s stories, and often illustrate on the fly — breaks at the office, at coffee shops, even at a stop light!

    This article was heartfelt and so true…

    • Fran says:

      Hi Robin, really glad you found this inspirational and that you are able to get down to all the things that make you happy.

  4. Ju says:

    Inspirational! At the age of 42 and mum to a 10 year old and a two year old I am soon to resign from the University I’ve worked in for a little over 15 years. I’ve finally plucked up the courage to pursue my creative passions. I’d be lying if I pretended the excitement wasn’t tinged with fear… It’s great to read your words of encouragement!

  5. Randy Kraft says:

    Brava! You bring all that life experience and passion to what matters most in the present. It’s not what comes first, it’s what lasts. Congrats.

  6. angel011 says:

    Very inspirational! It’s so true that we get more interests the older we get, and squeezing it all in is really challenging.

  7. Dawn Wink says:

    Dear Fran,
    I read this at the perfect time. Thank you for the wisdom, courage, and humanity conveyed here. Bravo for you!
    Dawn Wink

  8. Lena Ray says:

    Found this super inspirational! Having recently returned to school after a hiatus of some duration, I’m often intimidated by how young my fellow students act. I frequently worry that I have “too many” interests and not enough focus. Thanks for sharing your story and your passion!

  9. maria says:

    Really inspiring Fran. I needed a push now with so many obstacles. I’m also about to finish my Bachelor’s degree after a lot of squeezing out time.
    I just don’t know how you manage as well to keep so beautiful.

    • Fran says:

      Good luck with the degree, Maria. All that squeezing out will be worth it in the end. The ‘beauty’ I attribute to genes and a big bottle of Olay!

  10. Annecdotist says:

    Fab post, Fran. Beautifully written and such an inspiration. Good luck with your novel and the MA.

  11. Miriam says:

    Very inspiring reading. Sometimes it’s hard to get to the passions, beneath all the Must-do’s, have to’s and other excuses we make for ourselves.

  12. Kate Jones says:

    Loved this article. It can be worryingly easy to make excuses not to do the things you love in favour of those that you feel you ‘should’ be doing. Friends often ask me ‘How do you find the time to write so much?’. My response to those who are writers themselves is often ‘how can you bear not to?’

  13. I loved this– such a testimony to nurturing all are beautiful passions.

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