Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Article and Competition: What's My Ideal Job? by Anne Brooke

I’ve had a lot of different jobs in my time, believe me. I’ve been a cleaner for an architects firm (fun, but totally mad), a helper in an old people’s home (not as frail as you might imagine) and a parish volunteer for my local church attempting to provide some kind of connection between the parishioners and the new vicar. Now, there was a challenge.

In terms of my more permanent work, I’ve been involved in insurance claims, both accident and motor – which was very much being the proverbial square peg in a round hole as, with all the will in the world, I am simply not cut out for anything financial. From there, I managed to escape and end up in the Higher Degree Examinations department in the University of London. I have very fond memories of that job and, so many years on, count one of the women I met there as one of my closest friends. Mind you, with students every day could be different – I remember having to ring a particular professor at 10pm UK time from home whilst he was carrying out research work in a warzone in order to ask him about one of his tutees. I think he was jolly pleased to have a bit of light conversation really, rather than having to dodge bullets. Not only that but one of the other professors who worked along the corridor used to bring his basset-hound in regularly as it helped him to concentrate. Ah those were the days. I’m not sure you’d get away with it now.

After that, I ended up working as Admissions Officer for a local college – which was something of a challenge as the last one had left under a cloud so all the lecturers were very suspicious of me on principle. Can’t say I blame them though – as I’m obviously a very dodgy type. Still, in the end, they warmed to me, I think – though they seemed much happier when I was promoted to be Timetabling Officer and therefore more under their control, bless ’em.

Escaping, temporarily, from the world of education, I spent eight years – the longest I’ve ever been in one job! – working as a secretary for an IT consultancy, where I met another good friend, and perfected my You want it when?!? expression. Always a valuable skill. I also developed a lifelong hatred of quality administration and archiving …

Finally, I ended up where I am now – working as the PA to the Director of Student Support at my local university. It’s taken a while to get to this position (ah, these dizzy heights …), but actually I really enjoy it. It gives free rein to my desire for control (say no more) and for developing my deep technical knowledge of the photocopier (though if anyone does know how to replace the wretched staple cartridges, please do let me know as it remains an unsolved mystery in my life). The other great joy about this job is that it’s part-time for three days a week, so I can work at the university from Monday to Wednesday, and then concentrate on my writing career on Thursday and Friday. For me, that’s the perfect balance, as I don’t think I could work full-time at the university, because all those characters I carry in my head would get even more impatient than they are now; but at the same time, I couldn’t ever be a full-time writer partly because (a) I don’t make nearly enough money to do so; and (b) it would probably drive me mad. I need some kind of realistic grounding to keep me sane. Relatively sane, that is.

However (and – at last! – getting to the point), in the midst of all this, I’d still probably give it all up if someone could wave a magic wand and make me into a ballet dancer. How I long to be that elegant and graceful, and to float across the stage as a swan princess, or any other kind of princess, wearing those wonderful flowing dresses and being part of the fairytale of dance. Oh I wish. Alas, the only time I’ve ever come near to that dream is the ballet lessons I took when I was 5 years old. A career in dance which was sadly brief as I knelt on a splinter in the sixth lesson and cried so much that I wasn’t allowed back into class. Ever. Yes, today I may have the elegance and glamour of an elephant having a bad trunk day but I still think I was robbed. Anyone for a pirouette?

Blurb from The Heart's Greater Silence:

Mark isn’t sure he believes in love, especially when he finds himself torn between two very different men: his reliable boyfriend, Craig, and his illicit lover and priest, Richard.
Mark knows what he should do, but he can’t bring himself to give Richard up. The sex with Richard is unlike anything he’s ever known with Craig, and he hungers for it as much as—if not more than—the truer intimacy he finds in his boyfriend’s arms.
When Craig discovers his betrayal, Mark is forced to look at his life more closely, but the path to self-knowledge is never an easy one. Richard seeks the way back to God, but Mark finds no solace there. Can he ever discover the truth of his own soul, or is he too afraid of what he will—or won’t—find inside his heart?
Read an excerpt and purchase The Hearts Greater Silence here.

Anne's contest and prize rules:
1. I have one contest per stop - with the prize being a backlist ebook giveaway for one commenter.
 2. I also have a cumulative competition throughout the blog tour involving answering 3 questions from HGS - with the prize being 3 backlist ebooks for one commenter from the tour as a whole. The questions are
  • (a) What item of his trade is Richard wearing when Mark sees him in church? 
  • (b) When Craig discovers Mark and Richard together, what does he do just before leaving? 
  • (c) What action does Mark take at the end of the story?
3.  One signed cover flat and magnet for one commenter per stop - with this NOT being the winner of Item 1 (see above)
4. One gift certificate to be drawn at the end of the tour - with this NOT being the winner of Item 2 (see above).

Email address: albrooke@me.com


Anne Brooke said...

Many thanks, Miz! I'm practising my pirouettes even now ... Scary thought!


Aija said...

Hehe, I consider myself a semi-pro of photocopiers, so I do know how to replace staple cartridges, though it took me some time to get the hang of it! :D

japoki at inbox.lv

Anne Brooke said...

Aha, Aija! I know to call on you at the next staple crisis! :))


Val Kovalin said...

Hi, Anne! I love hearing about authors' jobs, which can include just about everything, most of it weird and/or lowly paid. :D

I very much like your idea of balance between a part-time job to keep your foot in the non-writing world, and yet keeping enough time open for your writing.

The weirdest job I ever had was working for an "Indian Trading Post." It was seriously called that. More boring than you might expect because the casinos were attracting away all the tourists that would have come to us.

I remember some very funny exchanges with east coast tourists, though. My accent, especially the way I said "dollar" would send them into fits of laughter, and I never knew why. I mean, accent? I don't have an accent, ha, ha!

Anne Brooke said...

Hello, Val! Wonderful to see you here :)) People laugh at my accent too - something in the way I say "year" is weird apparently. Can't hear it myself ...

And we certainly do some strange jobs, that's for sure - there's definitely a story in that Indian Trading Post one!


Val Kovalin said...

Accents can be really amusing, no question. :D My husband and I are fascinated with New England "Yankee" type accents, i.e., Boston, Maine, New Hampshire. We could listen to them forever -- not that they're pretty exactly, but they have a lot of character and are SO different from the way we speak.

And I love the thought of putting my old job into a story. Hadn't occurred to me until your great suggestion!

Anne Brooke said...

I have my uses, Val! Count me as your 1st customer for your Indian Trading story :))


booklover0226 said...

Hmmm, I wonder if your "You want it when?!?" expression is the same as my "Obviously, you've mistaken me for someone who gives a d***" expression!

I enjoyed the post; it was a fun read.

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Anne Brooke said...

Tee hee, Tracey - yes, I think it's exactly the same!! :))

Glad you enjoyed the post

Hugs galore


Loveless3173 said...

really enjoyed the post.

Wow, it's quite amazing that you've worked at so many different places. haha...

Ooh~ yeah... ballet dancers are quite amazing. Heh, I can't help but laugh at myself a little when I see a ballet performance and find myself crying over the raw emotion they bring out in me. It's just... majestic. That's an awesome career to wish for...


Anne Brooke said...

Many thanks, Judi! When I rule the world (ha!) you and I will definitely be the dancers :))