I’m jealous of people who’ve always known their calling. I like to imagine they popped out of the womb brandishing a stethoscope or lugging a briefcase, already complaining about the miserable old man in Ward 5 or Sheila in Accounts.
Then there’s me. For a good part of my childhood, I’d reply to every grown-up’s probing into my career plans with a simple “I want to be a vet.” The thing is, though, when you’re eight and practising on a menagerie of soft toys, you don’t think there’s anything more to nursing animals back to health than sticking a plaster around a Beanie Baby’s leg.
After just one whole evening of shadowing a vet at a local surgery as a thirteen-year-old, I had second thoughts about my future: there was only so much of Animal Dignitas I could stomach. But it apparently wasn’t enough to deter me from working with animals, because two years later I would be helping to tug a newborn calf out of a surprisingly placid cow, ankle-deep in mud, while on work experience at a farm.
The whole time, I’d been scribbling these (mis)adventures on the endless supply of surplus reporters’ notepads that my dad hadn’t managed to sell in his shop. Weekends were taken up with writing fantastical tales, entering endless story competitions and designing my own newspapers on Word 2007 that I’d force my poor parents to read in great detail. I thrived on a diet of horse magazines and, I’m ashamed to say, atrocious teenage romance novels, writing fanfiction spin-offs about my favourite characters.
Writing was a hobby, and I never saw it as anything else. Yet if I told my teenage self that in ten years’ time she’d be training to be a journalist, I don’t think she’d be surprised.
For twenty-two weeks I’ll be training for my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism in Manchester, doing all the journalist-y things I could wish for. Follow my journey here!