Guest blogger: Lisa Ireland
When I grow up I want to be a …
Readers often ask me if I always wanted to be a writer. The answer is yes, but it took me a long time to get here and I had many, many other jobs along the way!
I got my very first job when I was fifteen. It was in the local haberdashery store, which was actually quite hilarious as I could neither knit nor sew! As well as wool and cotton we sold children’s clothing and the shop was also an agent for a dry cleaner and the Commonwealth Bank. I worked in this store every Saturday until I finished high school and I have to say this little job gave me the best grounding for all the jobs to follow. To this day I remain grateful to the store’s owner for giving me my start.
At high school I excelled in English, but getting a job as a full time writer seemed impossible. My parents and teachers were concerned that I would never make a living that way so they encouraged me to choose a different profession. I decided I wanted to b a lawyer. After high school I started an arts/law degree at university. To bolster the funds my parents provided, I applied for a job at the new ‘hypermart’ in our local shopping centre. Super K was a hybrid of Coles and K-Mart (a short-lived business model I might add!) I was given a job in the bakery. This was unequivocally the worst job I have ever had. I hated it and wasn’t particularly good at it either. The lowest point was being yelled at by the manager because the bread display was untidy. He was not amused when I asked if I should instruct the customers to please stop buying the bread so that our display remained intact. Needless to say that job didn’t last long.
The uni course didn’t last long either. I was bored witless by my law subjects and was failing my journalism course. I decided study wasn’t for me and I dropped out to join the ranks of the full-time employed. I got a job as a proof operator in a large bank, which was not fabulous but not terrible either. Maybe I would have stayed on at the bank but fate stepped in when I met a young kindergarten teacher at a leadership course we were both attending. This teacher was so passionate about her work that she inspired me to return to study. After much research I decided to study primary teaching. This time I loved the course and found I was well suited to it. But of course full-time study meant giving up my job at the bank and the income that went with it. To survive I needed to earn money and so I took on a number of part time jobs.
I stated tutoring primary and secondary school students, which I really enjoyed, but I couldn’t make enough money just from tutoring, so I needed other work. I ended up getting a job as the distribution manager of our local newspaper—a title far more glamorous than the role itself. Basically it meant organising the paper deliverers. I loved working for the paper, as the other staff members were young and we had lots of fun together. The editor even published the odd article I’d written.
Finally I graduated from uni and was a fully fledged teacher. I loved my job and worked for many years in schools both here in Australia and also in England. But when my own children came along I wanted to spend more time at home so I took family leave. I worked part time in my family’s industrial packaging business and did some relief teaching to keep the cash coming in. It was during this time that I started to write.
At first writing was just a creative outlet, but soon I began to wonder if I could make a living out of my scribblings. I decided to try! By now I’d left my HR job in the family business and had started my own business as a professional organiser. I enjoyed this work, but we were about to move to a different part of the state and I knew I would lose my entire client base once we left Melbourne. I decided to wind up the business and concentrate on writing full time. I knew this was a risk, but I had to give it a go!
It took two years of full-time writing before I was offered a contract for my first book, Breaking the Drought. I was well into my forties at the time, which just goes to show it’s never too late to pursue your dream job!
I love hearing about other people’s work. Do you have a job you love? Or one you hate? Tell me about it in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy of Last Chance Country. The giveaway will close on 10 July. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Dee.)
Last Chance Country
Dulili is suffering a people drought. Over the years more people have moved away than have arrived to stay in this old New South Wales farming town, and now only a handful of young families and elderly residents are left. The locals put a plan into action to entice newcomers: offering the town’s empty houses to people from anywhere in Australia.
Who could resist renting a beautiful homestead for a dollar a week?
Three people, eager for a new chance at life, take up the challenge.
Adele, newly retrenched and with a daughter in tow, is living on hope; while newly divorced Bea has a point to prove both to herself and her family. For Lachlan, a farmhouse for a buck, a job and a town to call his own seems perfect. But can he keep his secret in such a close-knit community?
Are the newcomers prepared for the revelations, disruptions and distractions of love?
Featuring stories by bestselling authors Jennie Jones, Lisa Ireland and Catherine Evans, Last Chance Country is a collection of small-town dreams, second chances and the healing power of hope.