They told me I should be a librarian or a teacher.
Not a writer or a publisher or a film maker.
I had just two options: librarian or teacher.
Even at the tender age of 16, I suspected this career advice was not all it was cracked up to be.
I went home, ignored it, and spent the next 28 years trying to figure out what the answer was.
It took a while because (a) it requires you to listen to your heart until it’s the only thing you can hear (tricky), and (b) there are no job specs for ‘children’s writer’. Just as there are none for ‘inventor’, ‘salsa photographer’, ‘shark expert’ or ‘wine taster’.
It’s OK if you want to be an Accountant, a Store Manager (yes, I did this once), or even a Zoo Keeper. But you are well and truly flambéed if you want to do something different to the norm.
Maybe things are better now? This is, after all, several decades ago. Maybe they have more adventurous career advice these days? I hope so. These things are life or death to the soul.
I once read about a girl who couldn’t sit still. She was hyper and anxious and jumpy all the time. She was tested for ADHD and all sorts. Her parents were so worried they took her to see a psychologist, who duly diagnosed the problem.
Was she unhinged? Did she need drugs? Did she need intensive therapy for the next 5 years?
Nope, she simply needed to move. The tension and jumpiness were all symptoms of a body which craved movement. And expression. And beauty. That’s it.
The second she entered a dance studio, she knew she had ‘come home’.
She grew up to become an international ballet dancer.
But of course, when she was younger, no one knew that. They just thought she was abnormal.
That’s why I say stuff the career advice. Make it up yourself.