Wednesday, 24 February 2010

When I grow up I want to be...

a writer! That was the only concrete idea I had in my head when I was a child. It took me 40-odd years to get published, and some of those years were very odd indeed. Along the way I've had many jobs. Lots were in the N.H.S. or social services, but I've also been a cleaner, nanny, ironing lady, a putter of leaflets through doors, and a voluntary adviser for the Citizens' Advice Bureau. It was all good fun. Well, maybe not being a nanny. Jo Frost I am not. But one day I'll write a story about it and wreak my revenge.

I used to think I'd like to work in a flower shop. I never have, but I did set a story in one. In researching it I made a point of visiting every florist I passed to help me bring the scene alive on paper. The colours and scents of the flowers were wonderful, but I tried to notice other things too. The rustling of the cellophane and ringing of the phone. The cross customer complaining that the lilies were too fresh. In fact writing that story cured me of my desire to work in a flower shop, because I realized they are very chilly. That's Ok in a heatwave, but not this time of year, thanks.

Another place I've always fancied working is a department store. When I'm fed up with my day job I tell my colleagues I'm going to go and work at John Lewis, preferably in the sewing machine department where I would enjoy demonstrating embroidery and buttonholes. So far I haven't done it, but I did use one as the location for another story.

Writing a My Weekly Pocket Novel was total heaven for two reasons. Firstly I set it in the Peak District, one of my favourite areas. Secondly, I played out another of my fantasy jobs - running a small hotel. I loved every minute I spent on that. My little hotel became so real to me that I can still see it now, four years after I finished the story. The hotel in my mind was very much idealized, I'm sure. I had all the fun, without actually having to do the early morning breakfasts, deal with difficult guests, or tremble in fear of the hotel inspectors.

I find other people's jobs are great starting points for stories, especially for the women's magazines. Now, let me see. What shall I be tomorrow?

4 comments:

Teresa Ashby said...

It's funny how sometimes the places and people we create become so real that we never forget them isn't it.

Joanne Fox said...

The imagination is such a powerful thing!

Suzanne Jones said...

Writing is all I ever wanted to do, too. But sometimes we have to do all those other jobs so we have something to write about.

hydra said...

It was so interesting reading about your stories. I used to sell lots to Woman's Weekly, Woman's Realm, Hers, True, etc., when they were all still in existence. I edited Loving Magazine for IPC for several years, too. I have an agent for children's books, but not for adult fiction, which is the market I am trying to break into now.