The Prequel to my Career
I’ve occasionally written on this blog that I am a writer – or at least an aspiring one – but as I reach the final few weeks of my university career I have to decide what I actually my full-time career to be.
I’m currently in my final semester at University, studying for a History and Creative Writing degree, and I seem to be doing rather well. I’m hoping to get at least a high 2:1 by the end of the year. If I really push myself I might even be able to get a first – but I’ll be happy with a 2:1 regardless.
Nonetheless, my university time is coming to an end and I need to set stock for the future.
One of my assignments this semester – rather ridiculously I think – is to write a 1000 word (marked) essay on what I want to do with my life.
Bear in mind that most of the responses my classmates gave, when asked to stand up and tell everyone what they wanted to do, was mostly: I don’t know.
I’m pleased to say: I do know. At least I know what I would like to do.
1. Work in Publishing as an Editor/Publicist/Literary Agent (eventually)
2. Be a Writer
It’s as simple as that.
However, my career aims have been incredibly widespread over the last few years. I didn’t choose this career for myself when I was younger – although I wrote my first ever story at the age of 6 – you would have thought it was obvious. But it was not.
Obviously, from 3-6 years old I wanted to be everything from a movie star, to a singer, to a veterinarian, teacher, and finally an archaeologist.
From the ages of 7-13 I was convinced that I was going to become a General Practitioner (a doctor). This fascination was based on my love for Casualty and Holby City.
However, in Year 9 I had to write a similar essay to the one above, explaining why I wanted to be a GP, and I realised I didn’t. I don’t like blood, I’m afraid of hospitals, people can really get on my nerves and I require a lot of sleep to function.
Then, from the ages of 13-18 onwards I was going to be: an actress, screenwriter, dancer, director, drama teacher… Anything and everything to do with performing, acting and drama. I loved it.
However, while I did have some successes at school and was part of a three-year course with the Royal Shakespeare Company, it never went further than that. But it didn’t stop me from trying to convince my parents that it was what I wanted to do. So when I went to University I enrolled not only in History and Creative Writing, but also in an Acting & Screen Performance module.
Acting at University – not Drama School – is not all it is cracked up to be.
No one is training you for a career, they are simply training you in the method and history of acting, with some performance to analyse your understanding of it all.
That was the first mistake.
And the second mistake was the module. The tutor was a bully, who scared the living daylights out of me and my class (there were 12 of us compared to the 200 in my History class!). He chose a horrible play for us to analyse and perform. And my first ever role was as a dying prostitute in the 1700s called Shitty Meg.
I had to wear very little clothing – which was a miracle since he suggested nudity initially! I was just 18 and I didn’t know anyone at university, let alone felt comfortable with my class and going to such lengths for a grade!
With a lot of stress I passed the module, but I began to hate acting.
In my second module I took a step back and stayed behind the camera rather than in front of it. Later I dropped the course in favour of more Creative Writing modules.
Needless to say, my love of acting was diminished. But I’m not terribly upset that I wasted a year on the course. I realised during that time that the reason I had enjoyed acting so much in the first place wasn’t because of the thrill of performing, but rather the thrill of telling a story.
With that in mind, I knew that what I actually wanted to do – under all of the bluff of costumes, line-learning, and adrenaline – was in fact write.
At the end of my first year, with acting out of my mind, I sent out my first ever piece of writing to a local competition. And I won.
So I wrote some more.
I’ve since been published twice more, in print and online. Plus I got another short story being published in April.
I’ve had a non-fiction article published and was shortlisted in a national writing competition held by the Daily Express. And I’m up for 2 awards for my poetry/prose, also in April.
Clearly, writing is something I’m good at.
I have since rediscovered my life of acting – for fun – by performing twice with my University’s Drama Society.
This semester – my final semester in drama and likely my final chance to perform at all – I have written five plays for my society to perform. Some of which I’m directing and performing in. Basically, this was the experience that I wanted all along.
After this semester, which I’ve got to pass as well as enjoy, I’m going to go out into the big wide world. Oh, yippee.
I’ve by no means discovered ‘who I am’ or ‘what I want to do with my life’. But at least I have a steady dream, a slight aim and I’ve fulfilled some of my childhood wishes.
So far so good.