“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Oscar Wilde
One of the lowest points of my life was when (as a newly single mum) I had to claim housing benefit to help pay my rent.
I’d never had to claim any kind of benefit before, I always like paying my own way, so my skin crawled with shame and embarrassment as I made my way to my local housing benefit office to make my application.
Sitting in the reception area waiting to be called for my interview was a grim experience. Think Waiting Room for Hell.
The prospect of losing my home was terrifying.
It felt as if I was just one step away from the gutter.
But instead of letting it crush me I made a promise to myself – and my son.
I vowed that I would work my butt off to become financially self-sufficient again.
And I vowed that I wouldn’t give up on my writing dream – despite having just been dropped by a publisher.
I was one step away from the gutter but I was still looking at the stars.
I forged a new career as a writing coach and editor.
I started running weekly writing workshops in my local library.
I finally got a new book deal.
I’ve been financially self-sufficient for years now – something I’m grateful for every single day.
Today, I was invited to run a workshop and a book signing at a literary event called YA SHOT.
The workshop took place in the library where I ran the weekly writing group.
And the book signing took place at the civic centre where I was interviewed for my housing benefit claim.
When I got to the civic centre I saw that the book signing was actually taking place in the same building as the housing benefit office!
As I walked up those steps I had a flashback to how terrified I’d felt walking up them all those years ago – not knowing whether I’d be able to keep a roof over my son’s head.
If someone had called me to one side that day and told me there was no need to worry, that all these years later I’d be coming back to that very same building to sign copies of my books I’d probably have laughed them out of town.
But this is what happens when you end up in the gutter and keep looking at the stars.
They steer you to a happier, brighter future.
My new novel, The Moonlight Dreamers – inspired by Oscar Wilde – is available on Amazon here.