...and mistress of some of them, I hope. For trades, read writing.
When I'm introduced to someone new and tell them I'm a writer the inevitable question is 'What do you write?'
Well.....all sorts is the answer.
My first ever published piece was a little poem which I sent to People's Friend. It was about my then 8 year old son going to Cub Scout camp and was a cross between a Limerick and doggerel. But PF liked it and they illustrated it cartoon style. They paid me £10 for it which was quite a sum way back then for just twelve lines.
But looking at it now I can see it was truly awful so you'll all be relieved to know that's the end of my career in writing poetry!
My foray into short story writing came about because of my increasing deafness (fairly well-documented here and elsewhere). For this blog post I looked up my old records. Some months I would send out ten or so stories and sometimes none of those would sell at all. Another month might see five or six sales, then a fallow period. So in the fallow periods I decided to have a shot at writing articles.
My Weekly liked a couple of ideas - a feature about my cochlear implant and another about the threat of plastic bags on the invironment. they paid me very nicely for those along with some high res photos. I had similar pieces in local newspapers but nothing in the nationals. Yet!
My daughter-in-law, Elisabeth Hadley, is a sculptor. Like all artists, she was having a fallow period, too, just as short story sales dried up a bit for me. She asked if I would write something about her and her work for Devon Life. Well, I'd never written a feature on an artist in my life but I bought a copy of the publication and wrote something to what was obviously Devon Life's house style. My son lugged about half a dozen of Elisabeth's nude bronzes down to the beach and took some very arty photos of them with little frilly waves creeping up to their toes. I decided to be cheeky and I offered the article and photos to Devon Life for nowt if they liked it. Well, don't we all like a freebie? Devon Life was no exception. After that article was published two artists got in touch with me to ask if I would do the same for them. Not for free I wouldn't. So again, I got cheeky and asked Devon Life if they would pay me for these two art features. They would. And so began a couple of very happy years going around to art exhibitions and going to artists' houses and studios to interview them. I racked up about 70 features for Devon Life, Cornwall Life, Somerset Life and Dorset Life. I even interviewed a glass blower/engraver who made all the glassware for the first Harry Potter film.
I began to get commissions to write beauty and lifestyle features.I got sent to gyms and health spas and had my feet and my nails and my body primped to within an inch of its life for said features. But while they were fun, I'm a soap and water, shampoo, a slap of Olay on my cheeks, and a dab of lipstick sort of woman really.
And then the recession hit and Archant Life (which owns all these Life publications) stopped taking work from freelance writers and did it all in-house.
But that was all right because short stories started taking off again. I gained some new markets in Scandinavia and Australia and that kept me busy - and still does.
Why not write a novel? more than a few asked me. So I had a go at that - well, seven goes actually before Choc Lit took me on. All has been heavily documented here and elsewhere...:)
So, that's a few writing things that I do. Then there are guest blogs. And my own blog. And this blog. Some reviewers interviewed not me but the characters in TO TURN FULL CIRCLE (see, I've managed to name-drop at last!). Do Facebook messages count as writing? I could argue that they do because don't we all try and spell things correctly and put in the correct punctuation and make those post interesting and fun or very informative? Ditto Twitter where we have to hone the thing right down to 140 characters or whatever.
So, enough about me......but I think if we write we can write all sorts.
What does anyone esle do to pay the bills?
And to sign off here's a picture of Elisabeth's beautiful mermaid statue.