A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Writing (almost) Full Time by Emma Carroll

Since dropping more teaching hours this academic year, I’m now writing almost full time. I say ‘almost’, because I still teach one day a week in school, and that one day is a godsend. No, I haven’t had a late career epiphany. I haven’t gone slowly mad from working at home, either, nor do I crave that day for its contact with the outside world. It’s a money thing, that’s all.

Most writers know writing alone doesn’t pay the bills. I’m not talking ‘new car, new kitchen, foreign holiday’ type bills- I’m talking the basics like heat and light. For 20 years now, I’ve done a job (teaching) that has a regular income, paid holiday, sick pay, a pension. My parents, public sector workers all their lives, found it hard to understand why I’d want to give all this up. Writing doesn’t offer these things.

Nor does writing have an ‘off’ button.  If I added up the hours I’ve put into writing this year, it would be a more than full-time job by a WHOPPING COUNTRY MILE! Family and friends often tell me to take a break. Colleagues at work came back after Xmas and ask if I’d had a good holiday? What holiday? I thought, I had edits to do!

This is not a moan.

Despite the long hours and small income, I LOVE my new ‘job’. So much it doesn’t really feel like work, not the type I’ve been used to. I’ve done a day job that’s exhausting, bureaucratic, punishing, and sometimes, quite frankly, depressing. Not because of the students- never because of the students- but because I love English as a subject, and can’t bear to see the joy sucked out of it.

Writing IS that joy.

It’s about freedom, creativity, danger, peace. It’s about waking up when you want to and working the hours that suit you. It’s being able to do things in term time without losing a day’s pay. I can write all day in bed if I want to, or stay up all night.

This year I’ve got two books coming out. I’m busy now: it’s going to get busier. Bring it on! I wouldn’t swap my  new ‘job’ for the world.


When she isn’t writing, Emma Carroll teaches English part-time at a secondary school in Devon. She has also worked as a news reporter, an avocado picker and the person who punches holes into filofax paper. She recently graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing For Young People. ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ is Emma’s debut novel for Faber. Told in the distinctive voice of Tilly Higgins, it was inspired by a winter’s day from Emma’s childhood. Currently, Emma is working on her second novel. It is set in a Victorian circus. In another life she wishes she’d written ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier. Emma lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and two terriers.

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2015 by and tagged , , .

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