This months Mum Life Success story is all about one of our very own contributors, Fiona M. Jones. If you’ve been following me for a while you may have read one of her stories (Mud, Tiny Green Apples). If not, you really should check them out.
Fiona lives with her husband and 2 sons (aged 15 & 17) in Fife, Scotland, where she works, writes & ministers.
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Sometimes when we think about writers, we imagine them sitting at a desk in front of an attic window, typing away at an antique typewriter or computer, a set of glasses perched on their nose and a focused look of determination on their faces. Am I right, or is that just me? Well, however you imagine a writer, chances are their lives are often very different from what our mind illustrates to us. For example they often have to steal moments of time to create their writing because they have families and day jobs that fight to monopolise their day. Sometimes they can wear many hats, especially if they are a parent.
Apart from her writing, Fiona has 2 sons to take care of, is the wife of a Baptist Minister and is currently teaching French in 2 different primary schools. “At the moment I do one day a week teaching French in one primary school and two days a week with five-year-olds in another school, filling in for a teacher who is on long-term sick leave. Teaching French for the past two years has really extended my own second-language skills, but my favourite subject area is science/ecology. I get to do Outdoor Learning and an ongoing ‘Living Things’ topic with the five-year-olds, plus Family Learning (an opportunity for parents to come and join in with their children’s lesson once a week).”
As many Mothers (and people in general really) can relate, life is full of obstacles. Even though there are many out there (and Instagram will confirm) that seem to have it all together and be living the perfect life, the majority of us have trials and set backs that prevent us from running like a toddler from a nappy change, toward our dreams and goals for the future. Hopefully though we do not let these obstacles and set-backs overcome us. Fiona knows all to well that life is not always easy, having recently been through cataract operations on both eyes and being unwell for quite some time.
“I suffer from long-term post-viral fatigue, and find teaching quite exhausting, but there are advantages to being a supply teacher. For one thing, I generally have more freedom to teach my own ideas and techniques, and for another, the paperwork and admin commitments are lower. Supply teaching is flexible, too, which means that I can vary how much I work according to my health and my other commitments: family, relatives, church and so on.”
Fiona has always dreamed of having a book published, maybe a collection of short stories. “I think my biggest obstacle to this is the current publishing market, with its expectation that authors should self-edit, self-publish and self-market their work. With my tendency to anxiety I am pretty sure this is not a path I could go down. During the next few years I want to find and establish what my “voice” is as a writer, and find my niche if it’s there. Somewhere along the way I would like to write devotionals; I used to contribute short scripture-based pieces to a church website, and I found it very satisfying.”
For the last sixteen years or so Fiona has been writing for church and community resources, but it is only in the last two years or so that she’s had the nerve to submit stories to publishers. “I have had some limited success here” she tells us humbly “ten stories accepted for pay and various other stories scattered widely around the Internet, pulled together on my public Facebook page. I hope that as my writing continues to improve, I will be able to earn enough money by it to justify doing stories when I should be doing housework.”
Apart from writing a book, Fiona hopes that in five years time she will still be riding her ancient Yamaha RXS-100, her children will be transitioning towards leaving home, and she and her husband will be able to travel more and spend time with farther relatives. “My husband is a Baptist minister, so I imagine my church commitments will also increase as time goes on, and I will remain part-time as a teacher.”
I always ask my mums how they find balance (if they do) between family, work and chasing their dreams. I am always pleasantly surprised to find that I am not alone in my struggles to reach the illusive concept. “I can’t claim to have got it right yet, but in the last ten years I’ve had to admit and adjust to my limitations in health, energy, etc. Working part-time seems to be the right way for me to go. I meet a surprising amount of subtle disapproval for only working part-time, but my children are always the first to tell me off for fretting about what other people think! In a way I like to think that they have learned from my mistakes. I love spending time with them, walking with my older son and listening to his explanations of the mathematical laws of the universe; and doing activities with my younger son, who has very broad interests and is always trying something new. I still read with them every night, some French, maybe a little short fiction, and always some Bible.”
Advice for Success
You’ve probably heard a lot of similar advice when it comes to achieving your goals and realising your dreams, ‘Just do it’ is a popular statement that comes to mind, along with ‘don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t’. Both are amazingly simple yet profound pieces of advice that I believe we should all hang our hats on but I really liked Fiona’s advice to anyone who might be thinking of chasing their dreams in a creative field.
“Always keep the creative side of yourself alive. Singing, drawing, writing, baking, sewing – whatever it may be. One day you will need it.”
If you’d like to hear more about Fiona or to read more of her stories, simply visit her Facebook page. To be featured as one of our Success Stories, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our T&C’s page for more info.
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