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Guest blogger: Lisa Ireland

26 June 2016

Lisa IrelandWhen 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.)


You can find Lisa here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Last Chance CountryLast 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.

  1. 29 June 2016 8:26 pm

    Hi Lisa, loved your blog and the way you finally had the courage to give writing a full time go, successfully. ‘Breaking the Drought’ was great. Have had a few different, positions over a long working life. After working during school holidays at a local bakery(snap) and haberdashery(snap) I became a nurse doing an enrolled nursing course and registration, then state registered nurse for most of my life. along the way I held a position as a bar manager at a tavern and we bought a business, two, a laundrette and a 24hour, seven-day-a-week, bakery,cum gourmet deli,cum coffee house/restaurant and caterers. After four years at that we were exhausted.We spent a long time time on our wheat and sheep farm before going to the city to educate our five girls and now we are retired.I write for a hobby and spend a lot of time reading and playing with my grandchildren.

    • 30 June 2016 10:16 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words. We certainly have had a few of the same jobs/similar experiences. what an interesting assortment of jobs you’ve had. Hope you are enjoying your retirement. xx

  2. 26 June 2016 8:50 pm

    Hi Lisa. Thanks for sharing. I’ve had a rich dabbling of careers myself – Jill of all trades, master of none! After 3rd caesarean I ended up on disability pension with wrecked back for last 17 years. I’ve learned over this time what I can and can’t do and decided to bite the bullet a year ago and applied for local library relief officer. Our town library is my hangout anyway, attending Writing group there, running book club and book chat, and so I slotted right in when they employed me. I love my job so much – but trust me, no time to actually read there! I confess, I would do this job for no pay I love it so much. I have value, I have skill, I have passion to share abundantly in our small community. So grateful for this. Best wishes, Jay.

  3. Krystle Chalmers permalink
    26 June 2016 12:15 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    Your everyday life of growing up and finding balance with “what you’ll be” is a good and inspirational one, proving we can all reach for dreams and be spun about in the process before getting there – and i personally am glad you made it cause I just loved Breaking the Drought!!

    Ive been working since I was 12 or 13, started helping my mum with Homecare magazines walking about the different suburbs handing them out, recollecting and placing orders. That went in for a year or so then nothing until I was about 15, when my cousin rang me one day and said “you free? Come into The Warehouse at Logan Central and start working by setting uo the store” so i did and worked there for just over 10 years, all while working my way up – had my good and bad moments there and also worked part time jobs in my spare time doing waitressing as xmas casual, in a bakery for 1yr; which i really enjoyed, much more than tour experience i bet 😝 And one of my favourite jobs i did was at night in Civic Video!

    Now however Im a stay at home mum to 3 darling kids (4, 3 & 4mths) For past 4 years ive been helping my husband with his business by doing the accounting and admin and as of a hear and a half ago we’ve been living too far out for me to find a suitable job so i focus on my passion of event planning running my own small business called Krystle Clear Events, give writing stories a go in my quiet time when I’m not reading and just recently started house cleaning for locals near me to earn extra coin and begun being a Tupperware consultant (yes i can take your orders, hit me up on FB hehe)
    Pretty busy life at the moment with it all but as you got there in the end Im hoping I will too!!

    • 26 June 2016 2:47 pm

      You are a dynamo, Krystle! I’m exhausted just reading about all your different roles. I will definitely let you know when I need new Tupperware!n L x

  4. 26 June 2016 10:58 am

    Hi Lisa

    Loved the post and good on you for doing it and getting that first book published (which I loved) I have your other books calling to me and I am looking forward to them

    When I finished 4th form as it was then I worked for a 3 weeks at the David Jones mail order dept getting Christmas orders ready for mostly the big sheep and cattle stations in the outback, then January I started work in a bank and I loved it I did a lot of jobs there from encoding clerk to teller and assistant overseas officer but I left to start a family and was a stay at home Mum for 10 years then got the opportunity to wash dishes in a club dining room hard work but so much fun I worked my way up from dishwasher to working in the coffee shop then onto gaming and finally with diploma in hand I ran the cash office loved it at first but times changed and I got over my job and now I love what I do stay at Grandmother and career for my Hubby and there is still not enough time to read all the books I want to 🙂

    But over the years of working I did meet and make a lot of friends and learnt a lot as well

    Have Fun

    • 26 June 2016 2:50 pm

      I started as an encoding clerk too, Helen, so there’s a job we have in common! sounds like you’ve a rich and rewarding work life. Glad you are now enjoying some well earned time to relax (a little) and enjoy your beautiful grandchildren!

  5. 26 June 2016 10:11 am

    Thanks for sharing, Lisa. Your description of the bakery manager yelling at you took me right back to my first job at McDonalds where the store manager yelled at me in front of the entire store for something petty. I still have nightmares about having to work there *shudder*

    I’m so glad you were eventually able to make writing your full-time gig.

    • 26 June 2016 2:53 pm

      Thank goodness you didn’t have to stay working there forever, Lauren. Sounds like that manager was awful! I’m very lucky to have a job I love now. It’s taken a while to get here but it’s definitely been worth the wait.

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