I am a fair weather “getter up.”  As in I don’t mind getting up at dawn, or even before dawn, in the summer, when the weather is warm.  In the winter, however, it is a whole different ball game.  I gather cats close and snuggle deep down under the duvet.

“All very interesting but what’s the point?” I hear you say.

The point is that at some point in the next 18 months, I will be undergoing a complete career change.  I dream of being a full time writer, publishing a new best seller every three months or so, living off the royalties and winning a Man Booker prize.  Whilst I do not think that is an impossible dream (well, maybe the Man Booker might be) I have to be realistic.  I need something to put food on the table and pay the mortgage from day one.  Getting recognised and paid as a writer takes time and effort. And even fabulously paid writers cannot sit at their desks all day, every day.  Not unless they want to get very lardy.  And stop getting inspiration.

For most of us writers, inspiration comes in the form of interactions with other human beings.  So I considered becoming a postman.


Benefits: early start so you finish early, in time to get back to the computer and write for a few hours (I’m writing this in Evernote, on the tube on t he easy to work).  A bit of exercise, fresh air. Meet a few people, and few barking dogs.

Disbenefits: early starts in the winter won’t suit me. Not sure how many people I will actually get to speak to, apart from saying

“Good morning, here’s your parcel.”

Benefits: disbenefits ratios are not numerical.  Becoming a postman is not at the top of the list.

What about becoming a dog walker?  This has definite possibilities.  I live close to a park, I like dogs, it’s good exercise and people always talk to dog walkers.  I can picture myself in the park, sipping coffee whilst I let my charges off their leads for a while.  And I can choose my jobs so don’t need to take any that I insist I walk Fang at zero five hundred hours every day.  I could get writing inspiration and still have time to write.  This has potential. why limit myself? What about zookeeper or landscape gardener? Fresh air, at least for the gardener, but I fear it would ruin my manicure. And what if the zoo put me in charge of insects? No, that wouldn’t work.

Then I moved onto some of the more prosaic jobs.  How about becoming a barmaid?  I’ve done it before, I can do it again.  But wait… Yes, I’ll get the human interaction but will the shifts give me enough free time (is writing time)?  Do I want to be travelling home late at night on a regulate basis?  Will it pay enough?


The amount I’d get paid makes me think that I was pushing my luck with dog walker and postman. I know how much I need to maintain my lifestyle.

Of course, then there is want to be earnings. In my ideal world, I’d be earning more than I earn now, raking it in from a number of different sources. That would give me the opportunity to get inspiration from a number of different places too.

I could do so much with big earnings. I would love to be in a position to say to some friends,

“How much do you need to pay your mortgage off?”

My friend, Angela, and I discussed this years ago. She always said that she would only ever loan people the money to repay their mortgages, but at a really low interest rate. That way they wouldn’t feel beholden or feel that they’d been bought. I think she had a point. Giving someone a gift of £2000 or paying for an expensive meal when you earn hundreds of thousands a year, is not a big deal. But to pay off someone’s mortgage, knowing it’s maybe a year’s or half year’s salary is quite different.

And then there is being able to give money to your favourite charity, or even set up a charity that your really feel passionate about. And that’s without the holidays, the jewellery, the clothes… The possibilities are endless.

I do have serious plans about my future, some will involve some re-training, and some will involve doing more of what I’m doing now.

So what’s your ideal job? What would you like to do if pay was no issue?


© Susan Shirley 2015


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