From TV Executive to author, Hannah Beckerman talks about taking a leap of faith and following her dreams!
It was early 2011 and I was sitting having dinner with my husband, bemoaning another disappointing day at work: I was a TV Executive and there seemed to have been a lot of disappointing days of late.
‘Do you think it might be time to do something other than TV? I mean, you haven’t really been happy in telly for ages now, have you?’
My first instinct was to baulk at my husband’s remark. I’d worked in TV since I’d left university 13 years ago, I’d been involved in some fantastic projects and most of my best friends came from TV. I loved it, didn’t I?
But the more I thought about it, the more I realised my husband was right. I hadn’t been happy at work since I’d left the BBC over six years ago. Since then I’d worked for Channel 4, The Discovery Channel in America, Channel 5, and BBC Media Action. And despite the fact that all those jobs had come with decent professional status and a decent salary, there’d also been immeasurable stress, anxiety, and internal political shenanigans that wouldn’t have looked out of place in House of Cards.
I suddenly realised that I hadn’t been that happy working in TV for nearly half my working life. I could see the next 30-odd years stretching out ahead of me, and I felt panicked.
A few months later, when that job came to an end, I made a few necessary attempts to find another job in TV. But my heart – and the sensible, emotionally self-preserving part of my head – weren’t really in it.
I’d saved some money so I decided now was the time to do something I’d been wanting to do for as long as I can remember: one of those childhood dreams that had somehow got lost along the way of exam results and career discussions and that prosaic but imperative need to pay the bills.
I decided to try and write a novel. I’d dabbled with bits of creative writing for years but now I had an idea for a book buzzing away in my head and it clearly didn’t want to be silenced.
So I gave myself four months to write and see if anything might come of it.
Those four months were some of the most sanguine I’d known for years. I’d often be at my desk by 6am, frequently would have written a couple of thousand words by the time my husband got up a couple of hours later, would invariably still be writing when he came home from the office 12 hours later.
After four months I had a fully researched, fully plotted novel in front of me and a first chapter I felt pretty excited by. I sent it off to some agents and a couple of days later got an email from Luigi Bonomi saying he loved it and could we meet asap.
That meeting turned into a contract and Luigi helped me turn the plot into a full novel which, six months later, he sold to Penguin.
My first novel, The Dead Wife’s Handbook , was published in February and I’m now hard at work on my second while also working as a freelance journalist.
Now, when I see the next 30-odd years of work stretching ahead of me, I think about tapping away at my laptop at something I love doing and I don’t feel panicked at all. And that, I have to say, is a pretty good feeling.
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