Writing To Keep Busy

It’s been a while since I last updated my blog, and a lot of things have happened. The two jobs that I applied for in a local museum here in my very own city of Derry-Londonderry were rejected. Needless to say I was down for quite a while about that, pouring endlessly over the application forms I filled out, looking for any small detail that would have shed some light onto the fact that I didn’t even get an interview. Being unemployed is starting to get more difficult by the day. I relish in the opportunity to do little odd jobs. For example I was on BBC Radio Foyle again last Thursday and Friday, and this gave me a reason to get up in the morning.

If you would like to hear me on BBC Radio Foyle then just follow these links HERE and HERE.

Keeping myself busy is the one thing that helps to keep me moving forward. One minute I’ll be looking for jobs and then the next minute I will be cleaning the house, or writing, whether it be non-fiction or fiction.

642 things to write about

I made myself smile last night. I have a book, 642 Things To Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and it is packed to the rafters with writing prompts to keep your creative mind active. They even help to eliminate writers block. I don’t really know why I took to writing last night, usually I have to be in the mood to write before anything happens, but maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t in the mood last night that made some magic happen. I penned three things last night that I never thought I would, and I feel like sharing them.


Prompt 1: You wake up by the side of the road lying next to a bicycle, with no memory and no wallet. What happens in the next hour?

(NB: I don’t know why but I made this story about a man)

The next hour was a total blur. He picked up the bike, which he could only assume was his, even though he was wearing no helmet or knee pads, and started walking down the eerie, deserted road. As he walked, he patted himself down and could find no wallet. There went the last hope of finding out exactly who he was, and where on earth he could be.

He kept up a steady pace walking beside the bike. He was wary of riding it, for fear it was what had gotten him into trouble in the first place. Deep, dark clouds started to spread across the sky, covering it like a heavy blanket. He picked up his pace, noticing that he was entering an industrial type area. Clearly the buildings were all closed and devoid of people, because each chain link gate he passed were locked up tighter than a bank vault. As fat droplets of rain started to collide with his forehead, he spotted a glowing sign up ahead. It was a petrol station by the look of it. He jogged towards it with the light weight bike in tow as the heavens started to open.

By the time he reached the petrol station, he was drenched right through, his teeth chattering with the chill. He deposited the bike at the entrance and walked through a solid wave of heat. The light of the store burned his retinas and the smell of petrol lingered in his nose as he made his way towards the counter. A portly, older woman was rummaging behind the till, and when she caught sight of him, she gasped, clamping her hand to her overly painted mouth. It was only then that he realised that his face and hands were burning with pain, and shards of jaggy pain were shooting up his back. He must have looked awful.

On the counter, a little out of sight, sat a wallet. He grabbed it and searched for the driver’s license. He pulled out the laminated card and stared at the photograph. He strained up to see his reflection in the mirrored sign behind the portly woman’s head and realised that the road burned face that stared back at him was identical to the image on the license. He glanced back down at the card in his hand as the woman made to call for medical help and read the name on the card.

“Carl Jameson,” he said out loud, not even recognising the name, or the sound of his voice.


Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a virtue. That’s what they say. Over the 24 years of my life, so far I’ve been a very patient person. I may have not had patience when it came to things like waiting to get presents on Christmas morning, or on your Birthday, but other than that, I’ve been a pretty patient person.

I have now found my patience limit, or well, my patience meter is being tested. I have applied for two jobs recently, and I’m just a bit on edge now waiting to hear if I’ve gotten an interview or not. I know this is a normal feeling, but now that I’m unemployed, the feeling of being on edge seems to be ten times worse. When waiting for news on previous job application forms, I did feel on edge to some degree, but I was still in a job at this point. Nothing was really hanging in the balance, as it were. Now it feels like everything is depending on these jobs. Also, I am very passionate about said jobs, and have so many ideas forming in my head about them that I just can’t help but feel…impatient.

I know it’s all a waiting game. I have no idea (well some idea) as to who else has applied for these jobs, and I often wonder to myself, are they feeling the same way that I am? I’m just guessing, but half of them probably are, and then half of them are probably already in a job and not feeling the same pressure. I know these people, whoever they are, are my competition, but I sometimes wish that we could all meet up and discuss what is happening with us. What is the most important thing to me, at the end of the day, is that the right person gets the job. Ideally that person would be me, but if it is not me, I want the job to go to someone who truly deserves it.

Anyway, I’ve found that quotes often help me out when I’m feeling stressed, anxious, and at this point, impatient. Here are a few that I really like:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”–Winston Churchill

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”–Norman Vincent Peale

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” – Joyce Meyer

“What good has impatience ever brought? It has only served as the mother of mistakes and the father of irritation.” ― Steve Maraboli

“Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.” – Guy Kawasaki

The Process of Form Filling

I haven’t written a blog in a good few days now, I feel like I’ve been missing something! Why haven’t I written in the past few days? Well I’ll been filling out job application forms, and to be honest with you, it’s been stressful, but surprisingly enjoyable at the same time.

I’ve been filling in forms for a couple of jobs that I really, truly desire. I’ve talked about the organisation I’m applying to in a previous blog, so I won’t mention any name now. I want to keep this blog fairly anonymous.

form filling

It’s funny how filling out application forms can suck you right out of reality. While filling in these forms I’ve been zoned out of reality for days, focusing on nothing but the computer screen. I suppose it is different when your professional life does depend on the jobs. When I was still working and filling out forms, I had a lacklustre approach to the whole thing. Now that I’m unemployed, every little thing seems like a huge thing now, and I’m taking everything very, very seriously.

One thing I am grateful for is the Job Club. Through the Job Centre, I have decided to attend a Job Club every Monday and Tuesday morning. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning, it gets me interacting with people, and it helps to keep me motivated. Fair enough I may not need the classes as much as other people would, but going to them helps to reassure me that I’m doing things right. I have Job Club in about 45 minutes, and I can honestly say I’m looking forward to it. Today’s session is on interview technique, which I need to brush up on.

group work

Filling in these application forms also has given me time to reflect on all of the things I have done over the past few years. For a woman of my age, I’d say I have some pretty good experience. My age does play on my mind sometimes, and I think things like “They might think I’m too young for the job,” or “What would she know, she’s only 24,” but then I talk to people, like the people in the Job Club, and they help me to banish these thoughts and turn them into positive ones like “Of course I can do this,” and “Age is but a number, it’s the passion that counts!”


All in all, even though I have been sitting in front of the computer for days on end, I have had a very eventful week or so. Exploring the things that I have accomplished has given me more confidence in myself, and the dark, lingering cloud of being let go from a job, is starting to lift. Some days, I don’t even see that cloud at all! This has to be a step in the right direction, don’t you think?

Job Opportunity Rain Dance

You just never know what is going to come up do you? Job opportunities can sometimes be fleeting, or come in waves at random times. Often they are like a great drought, leaving people thirsty for anything that comes their way.

Thirsty work
At the moment I feel like I’m in a drought, but my rains dances seem to be having some effect! In the past couple of days I’ve heard whispers, rumours, of jobs that could potentially be coming up in the local area. Sometimes I think I just dreamt this, but I’ve heard that the new Siege Museum that the Apprentice Boys are developing will be announcing jobs in the coming weeks. Honestly, what could suit me better?

siege_mainUpon reading this news, ideas immediately sprung into my head about what I could potentially do for the Siege Museum, if I were to get a job. There are so many possibilities, and the history of the Siege of Derry in 1689 is just fascinating. It’s also a really gory piece of history, and if told right, will have the kids rapt with attention and giddy wonder. In my experience I’ve found that talking to kids about the gorier things in history, really gets their young blood pumping for more information. I remember when I was working in the Workhouse Museum (may its dormant halls be filled with ghosts) I loved talking to the school kids about the different living conditions within the Workhouse. Telling them that there was only one bucket between 100 people to use as a toilet in one dormitory always made them express their feelings of grossness!

One girl even asked me how they would clean the buckets every morning when they were taken out to the cesspit, and I thoroughly enjoyed telling the kids just how they would have cleaned the bucket! When the kids left, they all thanked me for the fun time they had. Talk about feeling big headed after that.

Another opportunity has just presented itself to me; actually it presented itself to my dad in a fleeting piece on the radio. As soon as dad heard about the opportunity he came straight home and told me all about it. Downtown Radio are apparently looking for people for their Foyle Studio, so I rang Downtown, got the email address I needed to contact and well…I have to go and meet them on November 26th! I’m not too sure if it’s an interview of sorts, but as long as I get to go down and tell people how passionate I am about the city in which I live, I’m happy. I’ve spoken on the radio before, as mentioned in a previous blog post of mine, so I’m nervous about meeting them, but not as nervous as normal. If it’s a position where I have to speak on the radio, great! If it’s a position where I would be behind the scenes, researching and what not, that’s great too.

My Advice

When in a job opportunity drought, do a rain dance, and hopefully something will come your way.

It’s the little things…

Being out of work always gives you a lot of time to think about things. For example, in the past few days I’ve been thinking about setting up my own business, and thinking about signing up to a creative writing course in the North West Regional College. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my CV and how the hell I’m going to get it up to date, without exceeding the 2/3 page limit, and I’ve been thinking about my previous jobs, and how much I miss them.

All in all, my brain is like a buzzing hive of bees at the moment.


Just when you think that you couldn’t possibly think about anything else, something comes up that makes you pause, and appreciate the little things in life.

I am currently sitting at the kitchen table in my Nana and Granda’s house. I am using my Granda’s laptop to write this very article. Yes, you heard me, my Granda’s laptop! The man is 80, and he is pretty dang good at using a laptop. Don’ ask him to browse the web for sites like Amazon, eBay or Youtube, but ask him to find you BT Sport and Sky Go and just watch him work. It’s inspiring.

Mature Caucasian man typing on laptop in home.

Anyway, back to my point. While I was working it seemed like I had very little time to ever go and see my grandparents. Now that I am out of a job, I am down with my Grandparents nearly every day. It’s wonderful to spend the time with them, and help them out around the house. They both have bad knees at the moment, so they are slowing down a bit. I’m trying to help them as much as I can, like cleaning the house, making the lunch and so on. It’s these little things, and spending the time with my Grandparents that I am really appreciating at the moment.

Sure I miss not having a job, but being with Nana and Granda makes me miss it all a little less. Being down here with them keeps me from thinking, and stressing about all those things that I mentioned earlier. I have them to think about now.

Then however, you get an email from someone asking you to do something for them, and you start to think about all of those stressful things again. I offered to help out once, and offered my services if they were ever stuck again; I can’t sit and do research for them at the drop of a hat, they do not employ me, and those were not the type of services I was offering.

Back to the little things, I do agree that when you have more time on your hands, you do tend to appreciate the little things in life more, whether it is a simple, relaxing walk during the day, or sitting having a cup of tea with your grandparents.

The Goodness of Strangers

It is a wonderful feeling when someone you don’t know has belief in you.

I was at the Job Centre today again, and rather than being frightened, I felt strangely calm today. Yes the place still smelled like weak disinfectant and old carpet, and there was a heavy sense of gloom in the air, but everyone seemed to have a smile on their face today, which put me at total ease.

The process today was a lot simpler than the previous time. All I had to do was go in and meet with two people and go through a simple interview.

The first section of the interview was easy, and I only had to fill in one additional form. The woman who was speaking with me was very pleasant and we chatted merrily about the upcoming Halloween Festival here in the city. My nerves were easing by the second.

The second section of the interview was even easier, as I just had to sit down and talk about myself to the interviewer. The lady I met with this time was equally as nice as the first one, and when I started talking about everything that I been doing in the past two years, she was all ears and seemed very impressed by it all! As I chatted, naturally she wrote down certain things and asked me questions, but when we had stopped talking, she asked me: “Have you ever thought about setting up your own business?”


This question threw me for a moment. I had been talking about developing educational comics for museums and other educational organisations, and she thought there was a real market for that sort of thing, and that I had the passion for it. She honestly believed that it was a good idea, even though I was saying things like “I wouldn’t know where to start,” and “I don’t know how to handle finance too well.”

We moved on from the subject of starting my own business and completed the interview process, however when it came to the end of the interview, she came back to the subject. I couldn’t believe that this woman, who I had only been talking to for about 45 minutes, had a real belief that I could start my own business. She gave me all the details to contact the Prince’s Trust, and even told me about the Business Training that they offer.

When it comes to job seeking, and the Job Centre, you have to show that you have made some progress since your last meeting, so before my next meeting, this woman is expecting me to at least get in contact with the Prince’s Trust, just to see if it is the thing for me! I honestly don’t know what to think.

Mann tippt auf Interface Start-Up

I am flattered that this woman has so much belief in me; however am I the type of person that could set up their own business? I’m not too sure. I think I’ll have to do a lot of thinking about that before I pick up the phone and call the Prince’s Trust.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would say that I had an inspiring, and surprising time at the Job Centre. There genuinely are some wonderful people out there that see the good in people!

The Job Centre

Is there a place more steeped in gloom and the stink of misery than the Job Centre? I hardly think so.

Mos Eisley

Today was my first day, my first day of signing on to the dreaded “dole,” or for some people, easy street. I am not one of these people, and I am sorry if I have just generalised a lot of people who have genuine need to be on “the dole.” I still stand by my reference to gloom and misery stink though.

I’ve been putting this event off for about a week, as many of you will know from one of my blogs about “The First 5 Days,” of being unemployed. What was my reasoning for putting it off? One, I didn’t want to go there without my dad, my moral support, and he has been on holiday for 2 weeks (the lucky bugger). Two, I couldn’t bring myself to accept that I had to go to the Job Centre. Finally three, really I am just a big chicken, and quite frankly that place gives me the creeps.

With my moral support back from his holiday, there was no getting around the fact that I had to visit the Job Centre sooner or later. Dad insisted that I do it sooner. We planned to do it today, and as we walked ever closer to the front door of the building, I found myself stating things like “I will not go back to retail!” and “I refuse to stand behind a till again, I am past all of that now.” Looking back on the things that I said, quite profoundly, I’m a little embarrassed, but I stick by those things.

As soon as we entered the building, we were met with this weird smell. I couldn’t quite place it at first, but then it came to me. The Job Centre smelled like weak disinfectant and old carpet; really old carpet, like carpet that had been in an abandoned building for years on end and had gotten a little damp. That smell.

We were greeted by quite a cheerful fellow from being the reception desk. This kind of surprised me a little bit that this guy was actually cheerful, but I soon got over my shock and just accepted that he had a pretty easy job. He printed me out a ticket and I went to wait in line, except there was no line. The place was empty, and this, to me, was great! I got seated straight away and started talking to the man behind the desk who would “sign me on.”

Job centre

This man, what can I say about him? He was pleasant enough, but there was just something about him that made me cringe a little. I thought when people worked in a place like the Job Centre, or even in an office in general, they would dress a little better. There were two ladies sitting either side of him, and they were dressed appropriately, in my view. They wore black trousers, modest blouses and nice cardigans. This man however, whose name later turned out to be Richard, was wearing a really old black jumper, so old in fact it had turned grey. He was also wearing jeans that didn’t really fit properly, and the whole time he spoke to me, he had a wad of chewing gum in his mouth. Maybe every Tuesday is “Casual Tuesday,” for him, or then again maybe that is just him in general.

As I sat and listened to Richard explain everything to me, the Job Centre started to fill up with people. The noise level increased by several hundred decibels, and I did find myself having to strain to hear the instructions I was being given. When it turned out that Richard’s computer wasn’t working the best (big surprise there) I was asked for my personal phone number and told to expect a phone call later in the day about making an appointment for an interview. Honestly I was glad to be getting out of there, however my moral support decided it would be a good idea to have a look at some jobs on the way out.

office rage

The Job Centre has touch screens, and even though they seem to work better than the staff’s own computers, they are still pretty horrendous. Slow isn’t even the word, and you actually had to apply force to the screen to get the little mouse to do anything at all. As we whizzed through the jobs, I could feel myself getting more and more depressed. A black cloud was descending upon me as I looked at jobs that I either had no interest in, or didn’t have the qualifications for. I gave up pretty quickly and rushed out of there.

As I sped towards the exit, I passed a lot of people that could have been grouped together into the “Tracksuit and Sportswear” category of any catalogue. Half the people waiting to sign on for the day looked presentable, and just about as miserable as I did. The other half, well they had an air of “Not Bothered,” about them, in both appearance and attitude. Many had prams, and two or three children tagging along. I hate to generalise people, I really do, but to me it felt like many of them were there to use and abuse the system. We know they’re out there, but I think I’m maybe judging people on the way they look, which I know I shouldn’t do. Maybe my next time will be a bit different, and I’ll see a different crowd of people.

My torment of the day is over, but I still have “homework” to do, in the form of filling out booklets with my personal details and “willingness to work.” Hopefully I will get all of this completed before I finally succumb to the insanity of the Job Centre, and lose the will to live.