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When I was a little girl, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up:-

A long-distance lorry driver.

That was until I decided to follow a glamorous career as a princess. Then, at the age of 9, I realised my skill set was more suited to professional figure-skating. Unfortunately I never found the right doubles partner, so I set my heart on international espionage specialising in the termination of shady, highly placed political figures. I would have liked to have been a rock star, but I always knew that was more a sideline than a full-time career.

At no point did I consider writing as a way of life – and even less so when reality caught up with me. At school, English was not my best subject – although in fairness, neither was anything else. My annual reports gloomily chronicled my ongoing failure to achieve my potential (NB or anyone else’s). Even though teachers pronounced themselves ‘satisfied’ with my work, they never made that sound like a positive thing.

In college, I studied Applied Maths and Computing, mainly because with mathematics the answer is either right or wrong and doesn’t involve a ten page essay discussing the importance of the motive of revenge in calculating an answer.

When my application to the Irish Secret Service was rejected, I became a project manager (or if you don’t mind, I prefer frustrated rock goddess).

I moved to London in 1996 and graduated from letter writing to email, my preferred method for notifying my parents I was still alive. Occasionally I included heavily censored accounts of my life. It seemed pretty action-packed at the time, mainly because I was spectacularly self-centered. (My father had just been ordained as a priest, so it was inevitable bordering on cliche that I would hit a kind of delayed puberty at full throttle, which I celebrated by drinking inhuman amounts of alcohol.)

Two years later, I started sending friends 4000 word accounts of my experiences settling in the Middle East. Many responded suggesting that, if I had never considered writing, I really should. They might have been biased and/or delusional, but I was touched.

It was another year or two before I started taking it seriously.

In 2000, I took some time off between jobs to write. I wasn’t sure WHAT, but I had romantic notions of sitting at an antique desk in a sun-dappled room crafting a great literary work containing inspiring words like ‘shinsplints’ and ‘ficus’.

There were a number of reasons my 9 month sabbatical was a dismal failure. Mainly, it was because my writing desk was modern. But also, I underestimated how much I defined myself by my career and earning potential. I struggled with peoples’ assumption that I was dependent on Pre-Husband for financial support, and that I lay around all day snorting grapes and flirting with my muse.

It took another 7 years to complete Smart/Casual


Comments on: "Essay: How did you become a writer? – Discuss" (6)

  1. Oh my dear, there is hope for me yet! I am trying to craft a humble memoir in between the paying job, the raising of the crotchfruit and the ignoring of the dust bunnies under the beds which threaten to morphe into an avanlanche at any second.

    Even worse, it’s sunny and warm outside today….

  2. I cant wait to read the dedication.

    I wonder if Andrew discussed this sort of thing with his mates before he met you;

    cue squiggly lines and stardust music….

    (and cue scene from High Fidelity)

    Scot J: I wanna date a writer.
    Andrew: I wanna live with a writer. She’d write books at home and ask me what I thought of them, and maybe even include one of our little private jokes in the liner notes.
    Allan H: Maybe a little picture of me in the liner notes.
    Andrew: Just in the background somewhere.


  3. deadlyjelly said:

    Well, that’s the way it starts! Most of Smart/Casual was written during the six years I worked full-time. Progress depended on what was happening with my job, and the rare occasions my muse was not off on a bender.

    Ignoring dust bunnies is a full-time occupation – so good luck!


  4. deadlyjelly said:

    MarkJ: HAHAHA! Yeah, Andrew’s dreams have come true.


  5. Gosh, I’ve been ignoring dust-bunnies full time since the mid 1990s, and I’ve yet to write my first chapter. Imagine my astonishment when I first realised that writing – a book, as opposed to the daily hackery that was my bread and butter back then – was actually hard work.

    Seriously, enormous kudos to you for having made a finished product and getting it into print. I’d be interested to learn how you found a publisher.

  6. happy birthday ecards

    Essay: How did you become a writer? – Discuss | Deadlyjelly

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