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According to You Guv, more British people
would like to be a full-time author (60% of those
polled) than any other occupation. By contrast,
‘Hollywood movie star’ polled a mere 31% and
‘astronaut’ came in at a humble 27%. As always
happens with this kind of result, the media has been
speculating on the underlying reasons. Cue the usual
statement-of-the-obvious column inches pointing out
that the reality of the job for most professional
writers is nothing like the daydream fantasy: no
mega TV and film deals, no endless string of
international bestsellers, no red carpet treatment.
All very true – but also perhaps missing the point.
Most people in most occupations, writers included,
get fed up with what they’re doing on occasions and
decide that something else might suit them better.
Some act on the impulse, some don’t. As for me,
I’m with the poll’s 50% of men (and 22% of women)
who still haven’t entirely forgotten their childhood
ambition to be a train driver ...
Like a lot of writers, I don’t like to be interrupted when
I’m working. I put my mobile on silent and leave the
answerphone to deal with the landline. Except when
the recent call from Frank Jacobson came through. I
broke my rules and picked up. It was just coincidence
of course - someone politely trying to sell me
something - and not the fictional detective I’ve known
for a very long time. Unnerving all the same. I’ve no
idea how many characters I’ve invented over seven
books. What if they all start doing it?