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What do I do for a living?

On holiday in Italy, sharing a table with strangers, the conversation inevitably turned to what we all do for a living. Two of my dinner companions were retired but keen to discuss their previous occupations while I listened, part intrigued and part anxious about what I would say when it was my turn.

Finally I confessed, ‘I’m a writer but I also do a bit of teaching because the writing doesn’t pay the bills...yet.’ It was the first time that I’d put writer before teacher when explaining what I do for a living, and it felt really liberating. For the past eighteen months I’ve felt like I’m feeling my way into my new career, gradually telling colleagues that I’m a writer and that yes, I am published. It still feels a bit unreal.

Ironically, one of the other people at the table had a lot of teaching experience and was much more interested in that side of my working life so I didn’t get a chance to talk about my books. I’m not sure whether I was disappointed or relieved.

After the publication of my first novel, 'Forgotten', I was really shy about letting people know that I was finally, officially, in print. When Bloodhound Books accepted 'Fracture' I decided that I should increase my social media presence, I set up my own website and I started blogging. But I think I still saw myself as a 'hobby' writer. That’s all changed with the publication of 'Closer to Home'. It is adapted from some notes and ideas that have been on my computer for a few years but, this time, I approached the writing as a job. I was disciplined, I had a plan and I had a story to tell. Nine months later (I never think of my books as babies but couldn’t help but smile at the length of time it took to write) I was ready to submit my manuscript to my publisher.

The whole process felt like work – not in a bad sense, more like suddenly having the best job in the world! My attitude to my writing has changed. I’ve always loved making up stories and now I’m starting to believe that here are people out there who enjoy reading them. Maybe in a few years when a stranger asks me what I do for a living I’ll not even bother to mention the teaching bit!

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