Hello, I have returned! I have not yet made a real post since New Year’s due to preoccupations with university work and general antics. So not to worry, I did not get stuck in a lost vortex or anything. I just skimmed round the edge.
That means this is my first real post in 2016 – the year I finish my degree and go on to do other things. What are those ‘other things,’ you ask? That’s an awfully good question.
When I was a child, I was torn between wanting to be a fairy or a mermaid, both well-established and valued positions in society. Unfortunately, there was a slight anatomical issue, in that I had neither wings nor fish tail (outside of my imagination), so it turns out my application would not have been considered for these roles.
As I grew a little older, I would change my mind periodically depending on what I was interested in at that moment. I ran through the options of teacher, policewoman, professional swimmer, and combinations of all three. The wonderful thing about being asked about your career as a child is that you can say whatever you like and assume you will be able to do it – without having to consider your range of skills, level of experience, and whether you used the right font for your CV. I think my twelve year old self flirted with the idea of becoming a graphic designer, purely because I’d had a good run with WordArt.
Then, my side-line hobby of dancing became a little more time-consuming, exposing me to all sorts of dance styles. The shows my dance group put on started to mean more to me as I began to understand their importance. This is when I decided that being a professional dancer was what I wanted to do. I practised my different routines in my kitchen, which didn’t thrill my mum when she realised the black scuff marks on her floor were from my tap shoes. ‘Dancer’ became what I told people when they asked me what I wanted to be. My dad always said to me: “Someone has to be the next Darcey Bussell, why can’t it be you?” Whilst this was sweet of him, by the time I was 15 it dawned on me that you have to be really good at dancing to do it at a professional level. This was the same situation with my pipe dream of becoming a professional long distance runner. This was all around the time of choosing GCSE options, so I turned my attention back to a more academic career.
During both GCSEs and A Levels, I was always drawn to more humanity and language based subjects. My English Language coursework included some creative writing, something I would be genuinely looking forward to; it didn’t feel like homework I would dread. In my last year of school, I was writing more for myself and I even spoke to my wonderful English teacher about writing a book, which she supported and would spend time discussing with me.
But at 17/18 years old, I was extremely focused on grades, university, my career, and all the extras I could do to get myself into the best position. A job suggestion that wasn’t part of a grand high-flying career plan simply wasn’t an option 18 year old me considered. I became fonder of the idea of being a journalist and working my way through the ranks, and so decided to head to university to get a degree that would support that.
During university, journalism has stayed as an option, alongside publishing, and editing. I even considered becoming a speech therapist at one point, simply because I visited a website where it was listed as something I could do with my degree. I looked into internships and shadowing opportunities, constantly reminding myself that it was a more stable job – even if I wasn’t interested in it. At all.
Meanwhile, I was attending the university’s Creative Writing Society every week – as shy as you like, but thriving off being able to learn tips and surround myself with people who were just as enthusiastic as I was about stories. After a few weeks, I made my way onto the committee, and was able to organise for author, Saviour Pirotta, to come visit us for a workshop. He spoke about plot, inspiration, and his experience with the publishing world, all of which I made eager notes on. He left us with the final thought that writing is all about perseverance, and to be a writer you must make sacrifices. And of course, don’t give up.
After that session I was energised and inspired, and actually felt as if being a writer was a possibility. I talked to my best friend about what I had been thinking, which is when she presented me with a radical thought:
“Do what you enjoy.”
Since then, I write more regularly and I don’t put it down to just being a hobby, but part of my future. I have even cautiously mentioned it to people, bracing myself for the scoffs of doubt, but sighing with relief when they are encouraging. Now my dad says to me: “Someone has to be the next J. K. Rowling,” and whilst that’s a big ask, I will give it a bloody good go.
Saying this, I will probably change my mind countless times, but I hope to keep “Do what you enjoy” not only as my motto, but a running theme for 2016.