First work out what you want to do, and then ignore it. During your secondary education, completely forget that you enjoy writing stories and reading books and develop an irrational mistrust of structured education.
Take up emceeing to Drum n Bass but fail to realise that composing lyrics is a form of writing. Rhyme maximum with platinum. Retain the belief that a record label executive will introduce himself to you while you are performing. Slowly work out that this will be unlikely at a sixteen year-old’s birthday party. Completely give up on your ‘music’ career by eighteen.
Leave school at sixteen. Become a full-time student for three months, then an office junior. Move on to trainee website designer for a bit, but get made redundant and end up an administrator in a college. Convince yourself that designing forms and writing generic covering letters is creative. Learn that it should always go coffee-milk-water and teabag-water-milk. Also learn that tone is not easily conveyed over email. Note that senior management tend to be a shifty bunch. Decide teenage you was right to be suspicious of authority figures.
After five years attempt to escape. Fail miserably. Get headhunted by another college but have the offer retracted when it is revealed that you have no formal experience of management.
Suddenly remember that you hold an interest in writing. Decide on a whim to apply to the same university as your other half when you notice they do a creative writing course.
Upon arrival at university, realise that two thirds of the course is English Literature and resolve to do your research more thoroughly next time. Your first creative writing assignment is to write a modernised retelling of a fairytale. Introduce yourself to your classmates by writing a version of Hansel and Gretel that features a house made of drugs and a paedophile. Receive polite and positive feedback from your peers but note that the following week they sit on the other side of the seminar room.
In your classes meet many interesting people. Many of them seem smarter than you, but you soon realise that you’ve been mistaking pretension for intelligence. You avoid sterile, formulaic, overly descriptive prose and experiment with unreliable narrators. Or do you?
During your writing for radio seminars discover you enjoy dialogue-based writing and the freedom to let your imagination run wild. Write a play about a bloke who is given a pen that stops time by a tramp who may or may not be Satan. It receives good marks so you decide to focus your attention on radio drama and dialogue-led pieces in the future.
Following your degree, start a blog. Write posts where you rant about Facebook status updates and the nature of large organisations that are possibly a little too sweary but get high praise from the seventeen year-olds you are supervising at work. Keep ranting about anything you can think of on a semi-regular basis.
After starting your MA, build a website and continue developing your blog. Check your blog stats a little too regularly. Become perplexed that you have attracted readers from India, Russia, Panama and the USA yet none of your close friends seem to even realise you have a website.
Grimace but maintain polite silence while confronted with how quickly a good idea can be ruined by crowdsourcing. Feel validated by the sharp words of the first person your blog angered enough to comment. Continue to target your blog posts at this person’s outrage.
Reject the idea of studying business writing in favour of novels and non-fiction. Come up with an idea for a book with a target audience of people who don’t buy or read books. Run with it anyway and write about overzealous expectations awarded to an air rifle leading to multiple failed attempts to catch game. Record how to cook bacon on a car engine instead and produce ‘prison wine’ in a bin bag using bread, raisins and fruit juice. Make your housemates drink it.
Meet grown men that can be just as petulant as small children, learn how subjective the concept of personal space is and worry that all this time by the seaside is turning you soft. All right; softer. Discover a talent for narrative prose and disregard the radio drama ideas for the time being. Develop a dislike of using ‘said’ to denote who’s speaking and acknowledge that readers have brains by avoiding adverbs and too many hads. Read the greatest, most longwinded description for what could only be described as a table…
Have your Cornish experience unceremoniously cut short and end up sharing a house in North Wales with ALL the spiders while you write your dissertation. Smash it out in a fortnight, between breaks to watch seagulls mug tourists on the promenade. Figure you could do with a new insecurity so head to a barber’s and have a hairdresser point out how thin your hair is getting.
Attend the Port Eliot festival and spend most of your time eating hog roast. Don’t notice when everyone else runs off and be rewarded with hosting duties for a day of readings and dreary folk singers. Smile politely for six hours before rewarding yourself with cocktails and bourbon and smoking. Watch the sunrise to a soundtrack of several hundred people snoring. Visit hometown just in time to watch historic stores burn to the ground while fielding concerned calls and recording the extreme reactions of associates on social networks.
Hand in your dissertation and realise that unless someone will pay you to do a doctorate in stories, you may have to look for work. Sign on for the first time.
Get some unpaid work in a digital marketing agency and shine, writing about everything from holiday travel, computer parts and broadband to marketing, social media and chess. Show initiative and get asked to stay on.
Keep writing the novel whenever you get a chance and start adding the occasional blog post that actually imparts knowledge in amongst the angry opinions and foul language. Realise that Twitter is a great source for writing tips and morons.
Experience what happens when corporate and creative collide. Grin and bear it. Be the slackest line manager in the history of employment but still get things done. Realise that “learning curve”, said in a Bristolian accent, is one of the most entertaining things in the known universe.
Write a course about social media for small business and rock your first training day. Feel less confident after the next one but plow on regardless. Start to hate Powerpoint.