Serving The Writer’s Apprenticeship

The writer’s journey is like moving up through the ranks of any profession. Whatever our chosen field, we all need to serve our apprenticeship; to put in the hard yards before we reach our goal… and by the time we do, the desired end result shifts.

With the time it takes us to get to that point, the possibilities have expanded – either because we’ve developed or because there have been new discoveries in the arena in which we operate, or both. Either way, we are drawn in and carried along, just as a well-written story hooks readers and entices them on the journey of discovery with the main character.

Many of us remember our parents’ message that ‘In my day, it didn’t matter if you were the boss’ son, you started at the bottom – sweeping the floor, making coffee, running errands – and you stayed there until it was deemed you were ready to tackle the next rung of the ladder’.

I still remember my father’s eyes, bright with the pride of delivering such a life creed. Back then I wondered if there was a way to circumnavigate the drudgery and take the ladder three steps at a time, but like most people I’ve realised the wisdom in my father’s doctrine.

To become a mother, I first had to be a child, develop through trial and error, learn to learn from my mistakes, and discover my own principles to pass on to my children. Before I became a retailer, I had to learn the mechanics of business management, the pitfalls and pleasures of human resources, how to assess market needs, and cultivate my intuitive approach to customer service. To own the titles of counsellor, therapist and community manager, I had to study, do on-the-job training, volunteer to work in the field and change my world view by integrating the principles.

Each of these threads of my life created further possibilities. Motherhood led to being a grandmother, and more recently a great-grandmother, and in the future there will no doubt be great-great-grandchildren. My retailing experience led to the publication of my knitting pattern designs, improved communication skills, and the management side of community management. The path through the helping professions helped me understand myself and others, deal with personal issues and be effective in the community side of community management.

Against the backdrop of these careers, I’ve been serving my apprenticeship as a writer – gradually building the skills, insights, techniques, experience and writing credits necessary to launch into that longed-for and sought-after goal of recognition as a renowned author.

The benefits of my other careers have enriched this foundation and given me a strong base to leap forward into the next phase. Along the way, I’ve shared my accumulated knowledge and other resources with students and fellow-writers… in the hope of enriching both their work and mine.

I have no doubt that the possibilities will keep coming while ever I continue to strive for that next goal, like the young apprentice of yesteryear who my father so respected – the one who would have experienced every role in the company before he reached the top.

The only difference between my story and the one my father told is that in his world it was ideal to have one job for the duration of your working life, whereas in my world changing careers and doing freelance work allowed me to build on my varied experience and enabled me to expand my writing career.

It’s been tough running two careers in parallel, but that is the sacrifice many of us make so we can indulge our passions… and I do believe that the best way forward is to reach for the next rung on the ladder, learn all elements of the trade, enjoy the journey, and be ready for the next challenge – even if this is sometimes also a complete surprise.

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