So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."

Saturday, 28 August 2010

WEEK 94 Rejection

Book finished, I couldn’t help sending a letter and sample chapters to the first 4 London publishers on my list. Aim high and all that.

As I plugged into my audio-typing, I consoled myself even if everyone on my list rejects it, it’s not the end of the world. I still have a full time secretarial job in a lovely law firm where no one is bullied and everybody is kind.

Hey, no problem if these publishers hate it.

What a lie!

Now I’m wondering how much of this crazy business is a knee jerk reaction to HOWARD’S constant assertions that I’m a social reject. What better way to prove him wrong than to write a fantastic book about workplace bullying. But I’ve thrown down the gauntlet, haven’t I. I’ve put everything on the line. I’ve chucked everything into this book to prove I’m not just a useless dreamer of a secretary who refuses to grow up.

When I think about this madness, the dedication it’s taken to write this book - he’s half right.

I’m a dreamer of a secretary who refuses to give up.

...Just yet.

See you soon

Eva x

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

WEEK 93 The Shining

When I said last week my physical and mental health were on the mend – I may have been premature. This time, however, the injuries are self-inflicted.

The obsession with my finishing my book on workplace bullying has shrunk my world to the path between two desks; work and home. Now I’m feeling it. The effort of sitting on an office chair staring at a screen for 12/13 hours a day is taking its toll. My back’s killing me to the point I can’t go to the gym. My wrists and thumbs pulse. By 3 o’clock I get PC claustrophobia. I can't stop wriggling in my chair. By the time I turn my computer off in the evening, the eye-strain enduced headache causes genuine tears.

A good example is yesterday when, late afternoon, I had to move because bits of me had gone numb. Walking like Ken Dodd, I made it to an absent fee-earner’s room and stretched. Holding onto the shelves I bent forward; spine creaking in protest. It was then I saw his stack of ELA Magazines. Flicking through them, I noted one or two featured the subject of bullying. After a quick sort, I hobbled back to my desk with 9 magazines to read at lunch today.

My mum is organising an intervention. She’s planning a bus trip to the countryside on the weekend. She’s worried if she doesn't, when she reads it, my book will have shades of Stephen King’s The Shining. Each page will read,

“All work and no play makes BBTB a dull girl.”

It’ll do me good to get a break; some fresh air and a stretch, but she doesn’t have to worry. I am obsessed, but only because I’m close to finishing. And the thought of finishing –

It makes me shine.

Eva x

Saturday, 21 August 2010

WEEK 91 Holiday Entitlement

It’s good to be back. I’ve missed you!

I didn't plan to go AWOL.

For the three weeks leading up to a week last Thursday, I was crossing off my days in work to my hols.

And the moment my annual leave arrived, my system imploded. The last 8 months of 2010 ganged up and pummelled me into submission. This year, I’ve been bullied within an inch of my life, I’ve had an operation, walked out of my rotten job, attempted to take my former firm to Court and been awarded a final settlement. In the midst of all this I was still recovering from my operation and I started another job.

Having found one, I dared not request for holiday entitlement until my feet were under firmly the table.

Shocked and surprised by my near physical collapse when I did take a day off, I listened to myself. I closed the door, turned off the computer and curled up for a bit. I went into an overdue emotional and mental hibernation. I watched old movies and broke up the days meeting friends for coffee. It was convalescent.

Only when I was ready, I turned my computer back on, but left the internet disconnected. I re-drafted my book and took it easy.

The second draft is complete. My physical and mental health is on the mend.

And if anyone is entitled to write about the long term damaged caused by workplace bullying, it’s me.

See you soon

Eva x

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Annual Leave

I'm taking a little holiday and will return on the 21st August.

Best wishes and see you soon

Eva x

Saturday, 7 August 2010

WEEK 89 Bounce Back

All week, BBC news has charted the Rocky style comebacks of the big banks. Financially crippled two years ago, the banking giants are now recording huge profits. Lloyds Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC were up there in the list of those transformed, fighting fit and ready for a new era.

Lloyds Bank made a £1.6 billion profit following a £1.3 billion loss over the past two years. How so? By a drop in the bad debt and by dumping a staggering 16,000 staff.

RBS reports a similar picture. They also recorded a pre-tax £1.1 billion turnover for the first half of the year alone. Last year they recorded a £3.4 billion loss. Again, it was a drop in bad debt and the loss of approximately 23,000 workers that turned the company around.

It got me thinking about my old company. HOWARD, as far as I know, is still employed with the law firm and, I assume, still earning them a good deal of money. Perhaps they’re also recording record profits.

The banks, and my old firm, are breathing a sigh of relief. The worst is behind them. The guys at the top are patting themselves on the back, lighting cigars and taking the stopper out of a decanter of brandy.

I can’t help feeling nothing has changed. Has anyone learned anything? Will the guy at the top always screw the guy at the bottom to make a quick buck? Maybe I sound a bit cynical, but this is the way it works. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. In a world of corporate spin and marketing, it’s how quick you bounce back from corporate adversity which makes the headlines.

So, if you’ve lost your job or been bullied into half-shadow by a corporation, it’s time you did everything in your power to address your balance sheet and do everything you can to make your comeback every bit as extraordinary as theirs.

See you soon

Eva x

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

WEEK 88 To be or not to be...

I’m always patting myself on the back too soon. A case of pride coming before a fall, I suppose.

“Look how I’ve bounced back!” I say to my mum.

Everything in the world looked peachy and, well – in a nutshell - full of babies. My sister in law had her second scan last week and revealed on the weekend I’m going to have a little nephew at Christmas. A solicitor had to rush off from work as his wife was being induced (cue a last minute sweepstake on weight and gender). Another solicitor is also due at the same time as my sister in law and is sporting a very becoming bump. We’re approaching my best friend’s baby’s first birthday.

It’s a wonderful world, as the great Louis Armstrong sang.

But in parallel, I’ve felt a growing emptiness these last few days. I needed...something. Something else creative perhaps. I searched for artistic courses in my area. Fuelled by ambition, I didn’t want any old course. I found it in the end; a nationally recognised qualification one-day per week textile design course that had my imagination run riot. I could create folksy art products to sell on-line. It could be the personal investment to change my life and, who knows, eventually accumulate the net worth of the collective investors on Dragon’s Den.

I was almost sweating with the need to reduce my hours in work to four days a week and pull it off. I justified asking for the four days by telling myself it was unlikely I’d ever need to ask for maternity leave.

I had to see reason at some point. The reason came when I was told the course was cancelled due to lack of interest. I had to face it then. I’m craving the immediate emotional fulfilment writing the first draft of my book gave me. Had my creative passion become desperation? I considered why I might be missing it. Was it the pleasure of writing it? Was it boredom or the anti-climax after a frenzied bout of creativity? I had plenty to do, and in terms of writing I still have my blog.

Anyway, if I was that desperate, there was nothing to stop me re-writing it right now. I mean, just because writing experts say you should let the first draft just ‘be’ for a few weeks, there was no actual law against not doing so. But I knew, like we always know deep down, what I was really trying to avoid. HOWARD successfully drummed into me that childless women have no social purpose. We are a worthless old bunch. The act of writing my workplace bullying book gave me the sense of social purpose I felt put me on an equal footing to everyone else.

“Hey, I’m as important and creative as the next girl!”

Yes, reader, I’ve been running around like a lunatic the last few days trying to justify my existence. Not to HOWARD though. That would be bad enough, but HOWARD is long gone. He's left me trying to justify my existence to myself.

Horrible isn’t it? But I’m going to calm down now and take a leaf out of the experts on writing book. I’m going to just ‘be’ until the first draft re-writing deadline has passed. I can live without it for another week and a half.

Creating things with purpose is a wonderful, profound thing, whether its books or babies – but we shouldn’t overlook the elemental fact that we’re already the art someone else created.

See you soon
Eva x
Bottom Swirl