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Sunday, 22 February 2015

So, Mr Public, you really want to be an author, do you?

Ah, Mr Public, good morning.  Welcome to the job centre.  Now, I hear that the job you want most in life is to be an author, am I right?  So, what qualifications do you have for the job? 
The Authors' Job Centre is somewhat behind the times...
Oh.  You've had a really exciting and interesting life and you're pretty sure that everyone would be really interested in it.... and you really want to write a book one day.  That's fine, if you'd just like to fill out this JB734 form, which enables us to take away your television in order to give you the time to write, and also this NQ76 form, to sign up for a pathetic low-earning job which will barely pay any of your bills, but will give you plenty of time to write, since it's a zero hours contract...

I'm sorry, Mr Public?  You don't really want to give up watching television and you quite like the job you have at present?  Ah, in that case you want form 900213C.  Yes, if you just sign here... this form ensures that you will give up all hobbies, social life and interests outside the home...oh, I see.  You'd like to still be able to go out for the evening occasionally, and you have several demanding hobbies... hmmm...

How are you fixed family-wise, Mr Public?  Is your significant other aware of your desire to become an author?  They are?  Oh, that's good.  Then, if you could make sure that they sign this NJW27 form, because they will need special training on how never to interfere with you, or even speak to you for at least nine months of the year, how to run the house single handed because you won't be able to give much input whilst you are writing, oh, and if they could fill in this bank form 8RF67 - never you mind why, but writing is an expensive business what with the workshops and conferences you may wish to attend, and the various meetings you may want to have with other authors, to say nothing of upgrading your computer and then, of course, you will want to invest in all the latest software won't you?  Ah.  You think you already know enough about writing without attending any workshops?  Fine, fine...

And what about your health, Mr Public?  Writing involves quite a lot of sitting down and I can't help but note that you are a little...ahem, forgive me Mr Public..a little...how should we put it, a little on the well-fed side?  Never mind, eventually living on a writing income should sort that out, but in the meantime perhaps you'd like to invest in some slightly bigger trousers?  And, perhaps, prepare your taste buds for a life of Pot-Noodles and Quavers, these are readily available at the Pound Shop and you can stock up with a year's supply for next to nothing, which is just as well, as per my remarks above about living on a writing income.

I beg your pardon, Mr Public?  Let me get this clear - you don't want to give up watching television or any of your hobbies or your social life.  You don't want to give up your high paying job in order to have more time to write, you seem a little upset at having to spend quite so much time away from your Significant Other, you don't wish to spend out money that you may never get back on workshops, or mixing with other authors, you like proper food, and the thought of being quite sedentary for long periods of time appears to distress you.

What's that, Mr Public?  You thought that being an author meant scribbling down some words which would then be taken on by a publishing house, requiring no further input from yourself?  And that those words would make you millions of pounds, a household name, and probably be turned into a film, possibly starring Jennifer Lawrence or Daniel Radcliffe?  And that you would only have to do this once?

Mr Public, it appears to me that you don't really want to be an author at all.  What you want to be is J K Rowling or Stephen King and I am afraid that those vacancies are already taken.

Have you considered being a lumberjack, at all...?
Where a healthy, outdoor life with barely a single Pot Noodle awaits...

18 comments:

Phillipa said...

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Annie Cooper said...

Classic Jane. When I first read about the survey I said that they didn't want to be authors, they wanted to be J K Rowling or Dan Brown! :)

Wendy's Writing said...

Haha

Chris Stovell said...

Ah yes, the non-living wage reality of being a writer!

Natalie Kleinman said...

So much there that I recognise - except I don't do Pot Noodles. Thank you. I really enjoyed reading this

Jane Lovering said...

Thank you,chaps. It did strike me that the public had possibly not really got much of a handle on what it means to be an author - maybe because they rarely actually see anyone writing. They only see the famous and fortunate being trotted out in the media, not the whole pyramid of those of us who barely make enough to buy a loaf of bread!
Oh, and Natalie - I don't do Pot Noodles either, so I will wrestle you for the Quavers...

jill mansell said...

Love this!

Linda Gillard said...

You tell 'em, Jane!

My own advice to all those people who tell me they'd love to write a novel but they just don't have the time is, give up watching TV & doing housework. I also they tell them they could sleep less.

Natalie Kleinman said...

I'll concede, Jane, as long as I can have Twiglets.

Jillian Dagg said...

Tell it like it really is.
I always say I'm a writer - that's the
work part and keep a couple of nice
outfits in the closet for the rare times I get to be an author. Great Jane.

LizB said...

Hilarious, Jane! Oh, Mr Public, if only you knew!

Elaine Everest said...

They also don't realise that if they do manage to write a book that gets turned into a movie chances are they won't see their name in very large print (if at all) in the credits like JKR or SK!

Victoria Lamb said...

I am an Author and a Pot Noodle addict. Which means the low earnings diet has sadly not had much impact on my weight and I have plenty of bigger trousers that now seem to be smaller. Odd, that.

Jane Lovering said...

I think my main objection to this whole thing is that Mr Public doesn't want to *write*. He doesn't want to *be a writer* he wants to be *AN AUTHOR*. Published and enjoying the fame (huh), but without putting in the hard graft that goes before! Anyone and everyone is a writer, and that's finem but being an author takes that little bit more dedication and hard work - and most people just don't seem to want to put that in!

Sarah Waights said...

Brilliant! Wouldn't be so funny if it weren't completely true. If I had a quid for the number of people who say "You write books? I'd do that if I had the time..." like that's the only reason why they are not, themselves, PD James. One of many moments when I appreciated the brilliance of the RNA was attending a conference seminar called; "Coping with jealousy of other writers in general and J K Rowling in Particular". Genius blog post. x

Sue Barnard said...

Wonderful post, Jane. And so true!

Jo Lambert said...

Brilliant post Jane, it really made me take a step back and think 'Yes, that's what being a proper writer is really like.'

Kirsty Ferry said...

Completely true, but you missed out the bit about dealing effectively with people who constantly say 'oh, you have a book out. You can give up the day job then.'