When I decided, almost two years ago, to pioneer the career move of corporate lawyer to lollipop lady, I became acutely aware that people around me had conflicting opinions as to whether or not I was wasting my potential.
As a twentysomething lawyer in a top-tier Australian firm, I worked in an air-conditioned glass tower alongside hundreds of other people dressed in nice suits. The firm boasted harbour views, an in-house kitchen, catered lunchtime seminars, dinner for those who stayed late, regular firm drinks, charity functions, twilight sailing opportunities, and cleaners who emptied the bins and vacuumed the carpet every night. My colleagues became the greater part of my social life. They worked the same long hours, understood the work I did and were just an internal phone call away whenever I felt like stepping out for a coffee. I was living in a rarefied bubble: with my mind consumed by work, I would sometimes exit the building late at night, hop into a taxi, notice the dampness on the roads and ask the driver if it really had just been raining.
Corporate law turned out to be incompatible with my plans to be a writer of literary fiction. Plenty of authors have been known to complete books while holding down full-time jobs in the legal profession – I just didn’t have the stamina for it. The long hours, the exactness of legal reasoning and the inevitable workplace politics associated with office work all contributed to my profound writer’s block. Even when the firm gave me a part-time position to allow me time to write, I still couldn’t get into the creative headspace once familiar to me. I knew I had to find another job.
So I quit.
On my last day, my favourite colleagues took me out for cocktails. Some of the boys wore dinner jackets to amuse me. It was my last top-tier hurrah.
Read the rest of this article at The Writers Bloc. ‘Maverick’ was first published on 11 April 2013 as part of the Writers’ Other Jobs series, in which writers talk about the bizarre and fascinating things they’ve done for money.