Everyone else I asked was like, ‘Gosh, that’s hard, I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have this job’, but I know exactly what I’d be. I’d be an actress in the West End, preferably starring in Guys and Dolls. This is what I used to want to do when I was eight and I would stand in the garden facing west (not sure why it had to be west, seems weird now, the whole thing seems weird when you write it down, in fact), and make a vow with my hands pressed together (again, not sure why) that I would be an actress. Two things happened: one, I’m not very good at acting and two, I’m quite tall. Also I didn’t enjoy it much.
The trouble with being a writer is there isn’t much trouble, it’s a great job to have and I feel very, very lucky. But I suppose if I think about it properly there are two or three jobs I’d love to have a go at if I wasn’t doing this one. First, I’d become an editor again as that’s what I did before I gave up to write full time and I miss it loads. I miss the office and the chats but I miss publishing books and being passionate about other writers instead of just thinking about myself all the time! The other job I’d love to try if I had to go back and start again is teaching. I think to be a teacher who inspires bored teenagers to want to read (or do maths or geography or whatever it is) is the most incredible thing you can do. Imagine the karma you’d get, apart from anything else. ‘He was headed for a life of crime but Miss Evans, his inspirational English teacher, saved him by making him fall in love with Georgette Heyer novels.’
In the realms of fantasy, more than anything what I DO still wish I could be is a singer. I used to do a lot of singing at school and university and I loved it. I still do karaoke but not often enough and I need to join a choir and do some more regular singing. I sing all the time round the house – jazzy stuff, Ella Fitzgerald etc. and classical things too but mostly musicals. It makes me so happy; you can feel the endorphins rushing through you the more you do it. When I lived on my own I used to do routines to myself in my flat and now I have a partner and child it’s hard, let me tell you, to pretend to be Judy Garland hopping on and off an imaginary trolley without people giving you strange looks.
As I say, I absolutely love my job but I’m also proud of myself when I think about it. I am a writer because I desperately wanted to write stories and so I got up in the mornings before my job and worked really hard, and it was bloody scary writing and getting an agent and finding a publisher and all of that. The truth is I’m not a professional singer not because I haven’t been discovered yet but because, while I know I think I’m totally amazing at karaoke after a margarita and when I’m on my own in the house (that’s what I do all day instead of writing), I’m not good enough to do it for a living. I mainly feel glad that I’m not deluding myself about anything because I was a fairly delusional child / young adult. So I suppose I’d better get back to writing an actual book, then. X x x