Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I was older, I’d proudly tell them I wanted to be a doctor. This was a decade ago. Somewhere along the line I realised the thought of not being able to cure everyone who walked through my hospital’s doors was one that would probably haunt me for the rest of my career, so I decided I wanted to be a lawyer instead, specialising in family law. Then it came time to pick a course to study at university and again I realised that being a lawyer doesn’t always entail what TV shows made me think it does. Then I wanted to be a business woman, working in finance, so I studied International Business at Brunel University for a year. I HATED IT. What I’m hoping you’ve done by now is notice something all these careers have in common. You guessed correctly if you picked up on the fact that they are all well-paid, respected jobs.
That’s the dream for everyone, isn’t it? To either be rich or at least well-off. To not have to worry about bills, to not have to struggle with a mortgage. Luckily, on one forty-five minute train ride home, I suddenly decided life was too short to spend the rest of my life in a job I wouldn’t enjoy simply because it paid my bills. The mantra, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life became my adage and a phrase I say to myself when things look rather bleak concerning my now chosen future career. I didn’t want to get to a stage in my life when I would discover that actually, I really didn’t like my job but it was too late to do something different now, that I was too trapped to change career paths. Disclaimer: it’s never too late to change career path but I was younger when I had this rather long train of thought (Pun intended? Lucky accident.) and didn’t know much better.
So, on the train ride home I made some big decisions. My first year at Brunel University studying International Business would be my last year and I asked myself, “Jess? What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to see yourself as one, two, three decades from this day? What job is out there for you that will never make you regret what you’re about to do?” And the only thing I was able to say to myself at that particular moment was, “I like to write.” But even then I couldn’t help remind myself that being an author was not a stable job – at all. I was always the girl with the life plan, the mapped out future that ensured, one way or another, stability. Within three minutes, I threw all of that away.
I bought myself a mini laptop (an expensive purchase for a student) and set about using my forty-five minute journeys to university for my first novel – an MG spy novel highly resembling Ally Carter’s novels. The more I wrote, the quicker I fell in love with the idea of this being a career. A year after came my YA fantasy/romance novel, GIFTED. My greatest achievement so far. Literary agents may not think so (the more you read my blog, the more you’ll understand of that). Authors may tell me to give up and try writing something else. That’s not going to happen. I want to see Gifted published and available in bookshops around the world. Every author wants that for their book, and that’s what I am. An author.