Sunday 9 January 2022

If not writing, what? - Anne Rooney

Every now and then — when I don't have any (or enough) book contracts, or I'm not getting on well with a book, or I get sick of arguing about unfair contract terms — I think I've chosen the wrong job. Once I tried asking a woman who worked in the University Careers Service what other job I could do. Her response: 'Half the people who walk through my door want the job you do. And you don't want it?' I suspect I'm stuck with it now. I'm probably not qualified to do much else after all this time and independence. But, still...

What would your dream job be? I suppose I could have stayed in academe, but by now I'd just be an expert on one poem, so that would feel dishearteningly narrow. I probably picked the wrong degree subject. If I'd stuck with biology I could have veered into geology and become a paleontologist. But then I'd spend entire days looking at one vertebra. I always thought it would be quite nice to be a shepherd. But the only shepherd I know gave it up to become an academic. That could just be a matter of where I was, though. Perhaps if I'd been a shepherd I'd have met academics who gave it up to be a shepherd. 

As a child I wanted to be either a biologist or a writer. Now I write about biology, so I guess it worked out. What did you always want to be? Was it realistic? Did you do it? Could I do it?

Anne Rooney

Out now
The Dinosaur Book, Lonely Planet, 2021


Paul May said...

I ended up as a Primary school teacher almost by accident, and I always thought it was a temporary thing while I got the writing sorted out. Thirty years on and I retired with a teacher's pension, which writing would never have given me and which I wasn't expecting. My dream job? Being a Primary school teacher before the Education Reform Act of 1987. Those people who think they want to do your job have no idea what your job involves. Making you living from writing books for children is an incredible achievement and something very few people ever manage to do!

Saviour Pirotta said...

I've wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember, or at least since I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe the first time and thought, wow, I'd like to write a story like that. When the going gets tough, as it periodically does, I wonder if I should have stayed on in catering school and become a chef. I have a passion for cooking. I love feeding people and they always compliment my cooking. Still, if I had become a chef in a professional kitchen, I would have turned a relaxing hobby into a nerve-wracking career. So when the tough times turn into good or good-ish times again, I always bless the day I emigrated to the UK to become a writer.

Stroppy Author said...

Yes, Saviour! Exactly! Turning a hobby into a job, especially one as stressful as professional chef, takes the joy out of it. I guess I can spend a day enjoyable stomping through mud and finding a few ammonites because I don't have to have anything to show for it. You're right — best to keep some things for enjoyment. We're very grateful and lucky that you came here and became a writer xx

Stroppy Author said...

Paul - ah, a pension! Not something writers can look forward too. It's a shame you couldn't travel back to pre-1987, but such a worthwhile job nonetheless. Your students have been lucky to have you