This is a guest post by Sophie Rogers — English grad, budding writer and reluctant bacteria boffin.
At Word Nerds, we’re keen to support fellow writers (especially those from sunny Staffordshire!) and have happily advised, assisted and encouraged Sophie since she got in touch a few months ago.
In this post, Sophie tells us what writing means to her, why making a living as a writer is her dream job and shares her journey so far . You can contact Sophie via LinkedIn.
The Little Writer Who Should: A Tale of Ambition
It all started when I couldn’t stop. I was in middle school, and the task was to write a short story that was “no longer than two pages”. My eyes widened and my grin grew at the prospect – this isn’t homework, this is a treat! As it happens, every short story I submitted for middle school homework never quite ended up that way, and was duly returned to me with raging red pen feedback of ‘no more than 2 pages!’ with the exception of one teacher, who apparently had too much heart to discourage me.
Of course, I elected to study English at University – they give you a much bigger Word Count, and I dreamt of that golden day on which one can decide exactly what to write about in their dissertation. During university, I wrote all the time. I wrote poems, stories, thoughts, and a eulogy for my dead hamster. If I didn’t have paper, I wrote romances in my head about the strangers next to me on the train. It gave me life.
The reason that writing gives me the energy that nothing else can is simple. My writing is me. There’s nothing remarkable about the spreadsheets I produce in my day job that differentiate them from anyone else’s, and besides a potential minor disagreement on column width, nobody is going to hate them. Writing takes something out from inside of you in the same way any creative platform does and then says “no one else would have done this like me”. Over time, writing was revealing to me its underestimated power: it was someone’s written words that convinced me to see a movie, change my diet, read a new author’s work, and it was my writing which could make someone decide whether to ‘check out this restaurant’ or even invite me to an interview.
Straight out of University and brandishing my First class English degree, I was unsure of the direction in which to take my passion. No one hands you a free manual on what to do next and it seemed that my ideal journey was a little more niche than a careers advisor wanted to hear about. Non-shocking newsflash – I wasn’t about to become Staffordshire’s own Carrie Bradshaw and breaking in to the business of writing was not quite as simple as CV’s and covering letters.
I applied left, right and centre and at 21 I managed to land an unpaid internship for an online travel magazine based in central Birmingham. It was great – I wrote articles and researched luxury travel destinations from nine until five, and they’d stated from the outset that I had what they were looking for to be taken on permanently. I worked hard and the weeks ticked by; I was thrilled each time the editor told me my work was good. However, I started to run out of money for the daily commute and sadly they weren’t prepared for me to work from home, to be paid even an apprentice’s wage, or to work with them part time so that I could fund my travel and keep writing. I was disheartened; and was asking myself if every company of this nature would be this way.
Not long after, though, I began a paid job as a Library Assistant in a University on late evenings. It was delightful – I was surrounded by books and could take home any I fancied, and my manager there would ask me to write funny short stories and complete ‘three minute Limerick challenges’ to amuse us during the ghost town-like holiday period. It wasn’t the writing job I wanted, but it allowed me to still practice my love of words.
Nowadays, I work an office job at a food testing laboratory filled with science graduates. It’s far away from the dream (probably as far as I could’ve got) but in the end, the need for money and money fast dictated that I took something I could do while I continued my search for ‘the one’. I work in Sales, and now know the names of a lot of disgusting bacteria. It has been enjoyable to be around others with such different passions to my own, and fortunately mine don’t go unappreciated – so far I have written personalised poetry for colleagues’ wedding invitations, birthday and leaving cards and now and again for the company’s social media. Those days are my favourite days as I’m getting paid to do a little of what I love, and I am grateful to be given opportunities here and there to do so. As for what comes next, who knows? All I know is that this long lived desire has only increased in its intensity since the middle-school short story days and it is not quite time to give up on the dream.