12 September 2006


It's quite shocking, the number of people who think what I do for a living is glamorous. It's not. A lot of the time it's boring and tedious, as regular readers will be aware. Granted, I'm turning into a grumpy old woman and I'm still a long way off 50. So I moan frequently about my job. But even my mother thinks what I do is glamorous and neither of my parents wanted me to become a writer. In fact, they actively tried to prevent me becoming one.

At school, my talent was obvious and when I had to choose my O Level subjects I wanted to do secretarial studies. Not because I wanted to be a secretary but because I wanted to learn to type and do shorthand so I could become a reporter. And I figured if times were hard, I could always temp in an office with those skills under my belt. My father had other ideas - I was good at French so he decided I should study it at university and become a translator in Brussels (it was still the EEC back then). I must have been a terrible disappointment - I couldn't think of anything worse than being a translator in Brussels. I was forced to study geography instead of secretarial skills.

So I quit school at 16 and wrote for punk fanzines and started slogging on a local listings magazine. The money was rubbish, I couldn't type (I'm still a one-fingered typist) and I never became a reporter. Probably not a bad thing - a chief sub-editor I used to work for told me of his horror the day he had to doorstep a bereaved parent, to discover she was the mother of a good friend who'd been killed in a motorbike smash.

Lack of parental support for my chosen career meant it was a hand-to-mouth existence for a long time. I lacked confidence in my skills and was jealous of Julie Burchill - just a couple of years older than me and she'd blagged a job at the NME, hanging out with the bands I loved and getting paid well for it. The bitch! Actually, I love la Burchill, she's amazingly talented even when annoying as hell.

But I digress. I scraped a living for years in my chosen profession, writing here, editing there, dabbling in corporate communications when needs must. Then I decamped abroad for a long time, again scratching around in my career. It was only when circumstances forced me back to the UK (that and my beloved P) that I realised - actually I'm pretty damn good at what I do! My confidence restored, I turned freelance but let me disabuse you, it ain't glamorous. Yes, I earn good money when the work is there (but there are plenty of slack periods) but the downside is dealing with bad clients who are unsure what they want and are difficult to deal with. To make ends meet I edit books and copywrite for businesses because freelance journalism is tough and dirty even when you're not a reporter.

So I grump and moan, but I love what I do. Hell, if I wasn't doing this I'd be unemployable. I have no other skills or talent. I sing like a strangled cat on acid, I can barely add past 10 unless I take my socks off and I'll never be rich and famous (unless someone buys this blog and turns it into a book).

Glamour? Even Burchill would concur it's not a glamorous way to earn a living. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

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