When a Unicorn kicks you in the face, you listen.
Within a few weeks, I was working full time; within a few months, I was at a crossroads.
...I was still working 6 days a week as a shop assistant and dog walker, as well as now pulling full time hours within NoBooksWereHarmed.co.uk
A typical day, for the entire first year of NoBooksWereHarmed.co.uk was:
• 6am Get up and walk the dogs, get home and showered and drive (or bus) the 20 miles to work, in time to open at 9.30.
• Work the day job, 6 days a week
• Finish work between 5.30/6pm and rush home from work to get to my desk asap
• Start NoBooksWereHarmed.co.uk work around 6pm
• Spend a few hours working on designs, answering emails and folding orders
• At some point in the night, maybe eat, usually not bother
• Aim to finish at midnight
• Fail more often than not
• Get to bed at 2am - apart from the times I worked right through until 5am
• 6am Get up and do it all over again
So for that first year I was working 50 odd hours a week in my bill paying job, and another 50+ on No Books. I only worked 6 days in my day job, which allowed me a full Sunday on No Books. So a minimum of 6 hours a day, 6 days of the week, and generally around 18 hours on a Sunday.
This wasn't a hobby. This wasn't a side hustle. I'd finally accepted it wasn't a fluke - this was my all encompassing vocation.
As the months rolled on, I must admit, I was knackered. Working an average of not less than 15 hours a day, over 2 full time jobs, will do that to you.
I reached a crossroads. I couldn't keep going like this. I couldn't leave my secure, lifelong job of 20+ years, because it kept the roof over my head, and I'm not that daft*. I also couldn't quell the fire in my soul that was lit by this new found passion. Something had to give. And if I wasn't careful, it was going to be me. An old back issue had been playing up for some time, and I kinda knew there was nothing wrong with my back - it was my brain giving me ample warning that if I didn't listen to it soon, it was going to break me, one way or another.
It was a tough few months. I'd never felt so completely engrossed in anything. I knew that designing and folding book art was my true calling. In one way, I'd never been so sated - but I'd also never been so conflicted. I knew something had to give, I knew it couldn't be this. Which is crazy. I'd been playing with books for less than a year, and despite working all hours, I was barely even pulling in the equivalent of a small part time wage. AS IF I was going to give up a proper job for this*...
...but I did.
For a long time, I'd kept asking the universe for a sign.
"If I spot 10 green cars on the way to work, I'm meant to hand in my notice" - and I'd spot 12;
"If I sell two books today, I'm meant to hand in my notice" - and I'd sell 4;
"If this Facebook post gets 3 likes, I'm meant to hand in my notice" - and it'd get 30;
But still, I couldn't quite do it. Leaving my job was the most terrifying thing I've ever done. On paper it made no sense at all and is hands down THE most ridiculous and irresponsible thing I've EVER done.
By this point, I'd had some of my larger, more intricate and completely one of a kind pieces accepted in to an actual art gallery (it's since closed, hence no link). My Bibliophile Collection. The lovely owner & curator has since become a great pal, and from day one, afforded me so much time and patience, about this world I knew nothing about. A couple of my very large pieces had sold, which was such an amazing confidence boost. And by this fateful point, I'd drafted my resignation letter at least 27 times, but never had the balls to submit it.
It was September 2015, I was standing at work, in between taking in a delivery and heading out on a round of customer dog walks, and I asked the universe for yet another sign. I refreshed my personal email tab, and right on cue, a unicorn kicked me in the face. Jane had sold Rabbie's Beast (pictured), and had emailed me a quick update about who had bought it and why. I turned to my boss (Mum) and tentatively uttered the words we both knew I had been trying to get out for months "I...think...I'm...giving...you...my...notice..."
The following morning I handed over my written two week notice. And there was no going back. Something that was Royally put to the test, when Stewart (Mr No Books now, but my 'bidey in', live in boyfriend at the time), walked in to my work a couple of days later, to announce that he and half his workmates had just been laid off without notice or pay...but I knew, I KNEW that if I retracted my notice at that point, I would never, ever make the leap. So I didn't. And I've trusted the universe ever since.
You learn to do that when a Unicorn kicks you in the face.
I left the day job one year to the day after NoBooksWereHarmed.co.uk came in to being.
*Reader, you may be noticing a theme here, but it turns out, I was indeed that daft ;)