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My sister once told me that I have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce. Wow, I have something in common with Beyonce! But I can’t help thinking I must be doing something wrong if I am going to compare my achievements to those of Queen Bee. I imagine though that one of Beyonce’s strongest qualities is unshakeable belief and I remember that I had a certain belief in myself a long time ago as a freshly enrolled drama school student. A lot has happened since then. Good, bad, ugly, beautiful, painful, incredible, heartbreaking, delightful.

I left my full time job a year ago with wide eyed enthusiasm about finding my way back to the colourful, creative path that I knew I was destined to be on. I had meandered off course many years ago and before I knew it I was in the middle of nowhere, wondering what happened. The meandering was pleasant enough but I was getting further and further away from where I wanted to be. I am a writer. I find it very hard to say that. I worry about living up to the expectations of such a statement. But let’s simplify for now and say that I love to write, to journal, to create poems, to write scripts and characters and dialogue. Oh and give me a good list to write any day of the week.

So, there I was, in a brief moment of belief, walking away from financial security and ready to throw myself back into creative career-dom and to live the flexible work/life balance dream. I can’t recall how many rejections I had before ‘woop woop’ turned to ‘oh shit’. I’m a girl who likes to plan, and when nothing is going to plan and I don’t even know what the plan is any more, it is scary. But I do know there is no going back. Cue wisdomy, insightful sister. ‘Remember to keep asking yourself what feels directionally correct and just go for that’. Simple, right?

I left my full time job a year ago with wide eyed enthusiasm about finding my way back to the colourful, creative path that I knew I was destined to be on

I ask myself daily if I am being directionally correct. It doesn’t matter if I take a baby step or a big stride or even a sprint, as long as I am moving forward. I have covered a lot of distance already and have had some great fun in the process. Of course, some days I stand still and others I feel like I’m falling backwards, taking each rejection or set back like a hard blow to the stomach. But I get back up and I put one foot in front of the other and I keep walking. It is difficult. If I think about it too much, I am at risk of having a complete meltdown. So I promise myself to focus on today, on this moment.

I am currently ‘in between jobs’ but have never been busier or working harder to carve out a happy life of doing what I love. Even so, it never feels enough. Where does my 24 hours of Beyonce time go every day? It goes to mornings of walking the dog and getting my daughter ready for school and dropped off every day, a ritual that I have come to enjoy so much that I hope I don’t ever have to give it up. It is spending 10 minutes doing a breathing exercise and writing intentions to keep my focus (on a good day). It is job searching and finding an exciting job that I know I would be great at and spending hours pouring over how to make my CV and covering letter show off my shining personality and transferable skills. It is temping in jobs I would prefer not to be doing to keep paying the bills. It is reaching out to a new network of people, being brave and introducing myself, offering coffees and having interesting conversations. It is working on a new play and being excited about what I am creating and where it might take me. It is writing poetry and trying not to scold myself or feel guilty about ‘wasting time’. It is actually (slaps hand) wasting time scrolling whilst trying to get my head around self promotion and social media, convincing myself it is all in the name of research. It is picking my daughter up from school and meeting her urgent snack requirements and being present for the short amount of time we have before tea. It is spending a painful amount of time asking her to please eat her dinner, long after daddy and I have put down our knives and forks. It is bath and stories and bed and dog walking before settling down to evening rest and relaxation, if I am not out on one of my two evening passes a week for the theatre or open mic or blethering with friends. My home will argue that I am not being directionally correct in relation to the neglected, messy nest it is currently looking like. However, I am pretty sure Beyonce has a cleaner, so I’m willing to let this slide for now.

I have gotten up in front of a room full of strangers and said ‘this is me’. And I do feel genuinely, authentically me

My life isn’t in complete alignment or harmony and I might not be earning a sustainable living as a creative freelancer yet, but today I have written something. Today I have met someone. I have learned something. I have done something I have never done before. I have had new thoughts and ideas. I have experienced an opportunity that I didn’t know existed. I have gotten up in front of a room full of strangers and said ‘this is me’. And I do feel genuinely, authentically me. When I meet people on this new path I am no longer in disguise, introducing myself as a version of me whilst desperately wanting people to know the real person underneath. I am simply a creative writer who is working on being directionally correct and getting my Beyonce-style-belief back. And I think I am starting to get somewhere.

Caroline Mentiplay


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