Many people dream of giving up the day job to become a writer. I remember clearly the day I decided to take the leap. The backed-up traffic on the North Circular might have swung it. The knowledge that come six o’clock I’d be in the same gridlock of exhausted commuters definitely made the risk seem more palatable. My then husband was ambivalent about it. He rather liked the idea of my being at home with our children, but he worried, and rightly, that I’d be giving up a sure thing with a pension for a high wire with no promises.
Anyway, I did it, on the strength of one modestly successful book, and I have no regrets. Even when the wolf has been at the door it’s been better than the North Circular at 8am. All that said, it may surprise those who fantasise about a writing life to learn that writers too fantasise about other careers. I don’t mean teaching writing, or freelance copy-editing, or website building because when you boil it down those are still writing jobs. I mean wanting to do something completely different. Not many of us do anything about it.
I’ve just stumbled, belatedly, on a writer who did. Polly Hope describes herself as a jobbing artist. But in the 1960s, as Maryann Forrest, she published three novels. I’m currently reading one of them – Here, Away From it All – and I commend it to you. Then she stopped writing novels and began making things rather than stories, which was what she truly wanted to do. Her career path (you can read about it here) has been varied, fearless and quite enviable. It strikes all kinds of chords with me because I’ve discovered quite far on in life that I’m never happier than when I’m making things. The difference between myself and Polly Hope is that she has the skill to make things people might buy. Still and all, her curriculum vitae has cheered me up enormously.
Meanwhile, at the weekend workbench, I’m slightly missing working on Violet the Cow now I’ve delivered her to the panto wardrobe. I need a new project. I wonder what it’ll be? Mixed news from the kitchen. The blackcurrant vodka is superb, the sea buckthorn vodka is going to be flushed down the dunny. Might as well. It tastes okay-ish but it looks like a very bad urine sample.