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  • Writer's pictureClaire Aston

Writing my way to a new future...

Updated: May 11, 2020

This is me. Well, okay, it's a stock photo of a lady writing. But that's what I do...every day. In a notebook, on the laptop, bashing out some thoughts in the notes section on my phone.

It's how I think. That, and talking a fast walk around the block. Or across a muddy field with a dog in tow (more of the dog later).

So this Spring, I have taken a leap. From the safety of a permanent job, to the freedom of freelance writing for a living. It's exciting. Possibly also slightly terrifying. But it's what I've always wanted to do, and, for lots of different reasons, the timing feels right.

From a very young age I have wanted to be a writer. One of my earliest memories is of Mum and Dad literally copying and pasting articles onto large sheets of paper on the living room floor when they edited the church magazine. This was before laptops were a thing.

I wanted to do the same. So, when I reached teenage years, I persuaded two friends to help me start a magazine for the church youth group. We rather provocatively titled it Blow Off so as to get giggles in church meetings - at least we knew we how to grab readers' attention.

From there I graduated to a trainee reporter on The Church of England Newspaper, where I learnt how to type very fast with an editor looking over your shoulder, and that if your editor sends you to a press conference with a disposable camera, you will rightly get laughed at by the professional news agency photographers. Smart phones had not yet been invented. Computers took up half your desk - see photo below - and half your day was spent coaxing crumpled sheets of A4 paper out of the fax machine. And yet it was brilliant. I interviewed Bishops and MPs, famous authors, women, men and children with incredible stories.

Then Christian Aid took me on a press trip to deepest India, where I encountered poverty like I'd never seen before, and an organisation committed to tackling it's root causes. I was hooked, and over the past 17 years that incredible organisation has kept me busy.

I've travelled far and wide, worked with the most passionate and incredible colleagues, met supporters who've committed their lives to changing the world, and led some highly skilled communications teams - some working in incredibly challenging circumstances.

It's time to come up for air. Write about other issues. Help smaller charities find their voice. Pick our boys up from school. When that's open again. Walk the dog that I've wanted since I was about four. He arrived just before lockdown, and has been keeping us busy ever since.

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