Posted by: Natalie | September 22, 2010

21 Days of September

Yes folks, that’s all it has taken for the shine to be muddied and my frustration break through. Both Steve and Caroline got a blast of hot air last night as I released the steam that had been building throughout my day’s training. If I am honest, it was there before yesterday but I was determined to laugh it off and not allow it to cloud my little world. I am far from letting it devour me, but on my 22nd day of being back in the world of work, I have awoken still digesting, and still mad.

In a nut shell (I don’t wish to bore you with all the ins and outs), I feel as though I am being treated like the children we are aiming to teach. I appreciate I have not been teaching all that long in the grand scheme of the world, but I do know what I am doing. I spent the last few years fighting to make paper work etc more efficient (and therefore effective) allowing teachers in my school that additional time to actually be able to teach in a similar way. Certain pieces of paper are vital and must be completed and that I accept whole heartedly. But when you are being re-taught those old, long winded, impractical methods that insist on duplicating (and in some places threefold) information across multiple pages instead of them being on one workable document then you start to feel a little patronised! And breathe. I am back to the point of wondering if this is how it has to be, when exactly do they intend me to actually teach a child?

I did try, in my most diplomatic of tones, to suggest that perhaps some of the duplicating was unnecessary. I showed my own methods and asked if that would be suitable. I followed this up by asking why it was not suitable. The only answer available seemed to be that I ‘just have to’ do it in a certain way, appearing to be of no one’s benefit. At this point I had to temper another beast that sometimes surfaces and which I do despise; arrogance. I wanted to explain to the people around me that there are better, clearer and more efficient ways of documenting our teaching, that I have been told by a variety of authorities that I am a ‘Good-Outstanding’ teacher and that believe it or not, I know what I am talking about! But thankfully, the fact that I was getting peculiar looks for simply challenging in the first place, made the arrogance subside.

But that is just another frustration, am I the only one to see that what we are being asked to do is not just onerous but ridiculous also? Why does no one else challenge? (Erika, Lisa, you have no idea just how much you were missed yesterday – a little intelligent back up could have gone a very long way!)

I am still very ranty, I am very sorry, but this is what really gets to me. We are supposed to be there with one focus, providing children with the most effective learning environment and engaging education as possible. Yet there are these daft hoops to be jumped through implemented by over paid people who as far as I am aware have not been within a classroom for a very long time. The people I refer to in this instance are the ‘creators’ at a certain northern university.

But on top of this, I have now regretfully taken on two further afternoons tuition for older children. I am struggling to get in my writing time and it is already starting to make me miserable. As I always say, the teaching is never an issue – I am good at that and it makes me happy to know I make a difference. But These three weeks have confirmed the suspicions, I just want to write!

Last night while Cie and Steve chatted about other things, without even realising, I blurted out ‘I don’t want to be doing this job’. I was’t even sure where it had come from, I didn’t notice it sneaking up on me. Of course it was tainted by the day and the memory of fun I had over the last twelve months, but obviously my mind is made. At this point in time, there is no option, I have to find the balance of the two until that day comes that I can afford not to teach.

But then Steve told me off for procrastinating saying for some reason I appear to be putting off sending my manuscript to publishers. In my mind it is still not ready, there are too many gaping holes that publishers would pull apart and use to throw my work away. But this argument didn’t hold up either – Caroline being an editor (sadly not in the area I need!) pointed out that there is no such thing as a finished manuscript. In fact, in her experience editors sometimes prefer one with potential but needs work.

It is sometimes hard to realise everyone else is right.

The balance seems a long way from being found (especially when I come home so utterly bewildered with the world) but I have to find it and I have to find it quick. I want to be a success in something that I love from the bottom of my heart, and something that is a challenge. I want to tell stories. There are so many stuck in my head and on scraps of notes scattered through the house. I want to have fun.

So, here it is. I am, with luck, by this time next week going to have my letter and synopsis information written (or re-written, any long time readers will realise I sent this book once before in its previous incarnation to one or two agents); no more messing about and getting frightened about the unknown. I know to who I wish to send my manuscript, I just have to think of how to sell myself to them!

And in between times? I shall focus on the children I teach, what they need and my purpose for being there. But if I get lost under the mountains of pointless paper, please send out a search party. Thank you for listening, I feel so much better already.



  1. Owen seems to have the same sort of problem in his job – inefficiencies in the way the paperwork is done and being told ‘this is the way we do things’ even though there are much better ways of achieving the same result.

  2. Just wanted to let you know that I read your blog most days as it gives me a kind of focus for my writing. I can identify with so much of what you say… Very best of luck re-writing your cover letter and synopsis. I do not think you have been procrastinating. You are simply trying to make your manuscript the very best it can be, which we are told is what we should be doing! I am about 3/4 of the way through a novel for 8-12 year olds, and when I am happy that it is finished, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to send it to Cornerstones to have a look at. They charge a fee, but will give detailed advice for revision, and will pass to agents if they think it is promising. I think I would rather have constructive feedback, than send it off to agents who most of the time will just reject without even making a comment… Perhaps they would be worth considering?

    • Hi Nicola,

      Thank you so much for your message. I was thinking something similar with an online company called Bubblecow. They fantastic daily tips as it is but offer different levels of service for your manuscript including an editors report and one that looks at readers interest. I think I may be asking Father Christmas for an early investment in this!!

      Thank you for reading, its so nice to think people come back often. Hope you are having fun with your book!

      Nat x

  3. Natalie, sweet Natalie,
    “It is sometimes hard to realise everyone else is right”… it’s hard because you really do know that they AREN’T… deep down, within the core of your being, you will do those things in life that need taking care of, in good time… IN YOUR TIME!

    I, am like you.
    I put off, skirt around and dance that thin line very well myself. Only I am accountable to me. Only I am. “Everybody else” always has the answers,
    but have you noticed that they may not follow their own advice themselves?

    I’m not saying NEVER listen to them, I’m saying that it is alright to NOT ALWAYS listen to them.

    You will know when tge time is right to do just about anything for yourself, for you have other things knocking at your door, vying for attention. If you are mindful to yourself and your needs, it turns out… you will be mindful of your family/friends! Do for YOU, then you are better equipped to attend to others.

    I’m sure there are reasons, one’s that you are not fully aware of, that have kept you teetering on the edge of sending that manuscript in… maybe it’s time to find reasons why you SHOULDN’T SEND IT IN!

    I’ll bet you may find that you counter those thoughts with all the reasons YOU SHOULD!

    sorrry sweetie, I didn’t mean to YELL, I’m only making, or trying to make, a point… and to motivate you… and to make you feel better about the person that you know is YOU!
    >huggs across the ocean to you, Denise<

    • Aw Denise, you always make me feel so much better!! Shout away if you must, I am quite a frustrating individual at times and on these occasions capital letters work well!

      I wind myself up because I want to do everything well all at once and of course that is not possible. I am far from being a perfectionist (so far its untrue) but of course my biggest critic is myself. The manuscript is almost ready, I feel that and hopefully in the next few weeks I will get it out somewhere. My biggest issue at the moment is that routine and having to change it all once more in such a dramatic fashion. The even keel is on its way, I just have to ignore some of the nonsense that goes along with it.

      Thank you again for saying a lot of what is swimming around in my head, making me smile and calling me sweet!!

      Hope you are doing well my love,

      Nat x

  4. It’s good to hear our education system isn’t the only one that needs work ;p After growing up and hearing how bad it is and how great others are, I was beginning to feel inferior, lol.

    I’m sure everything will be fine, and if your ms is anything like your posts, well thought out and writtne well, you have nothing to worry about.

  5. Natalie – if your blog is anything to go by, I say go for it! I love your writing style.

    The thing I always think about is that Prisig sent Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to more than 100 publishers (maybe it was even more than 150). That is, a classic work that is still in print and in demand 30 years later was rejected by more than 100 editors who thought it had no potential.

    So don’t be disheartened by the two publishers who have not jumped at your book … someone sensible is out there.

    I admire your courage. I’d love to try to publish a story. I have one I want to tell. But so far I’ve not got the courage to write it because I am scared it will be a lot of work for limited return (that story is even longer than the one I’m writing over on my little blog).

    • Hi Herby,

      Thank you so much for this kind message, you really made me smile! I don’t think I will worry too much about publishers, they are inundated with so much. It would be silly of me to take it personally. And as my Mother always says, things happen for a reason. As long as I can be proud with what I have achieved so far, the next step can come when it’s ready.

      Can you tell I might have had a good night’s sleep and a better look at the world?! You should definitely try and write that story some day. I love reading your work (even though I am a hopeless commenter!), you clearly love writing. It will be a lot of work of course, but I hazard a guess you would enjoy doing it!!


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