00:00:03 My name is Jeremy S and I’m a children’s author. I write books mainly for seven to nine year olds but also for young teenagers. When I was a child, I can remember my father asking me what I wanted to do and at the time, I think I was about five, and my father said, ‘well what do you think you want to be when you grow up?’ And I said, ‘well, I want to be a farmer’, and he said, ‘well, you do realise that farmers have to get up at about four o’clock in the morning?’ So I gave up on that idea pretty quickly.
00:00:36 I also wanted to be a racing car driver but I didn’t have a racing car and I couldn’t drive either. But I was very fortunate when I was about seven-eight or so, I had the same teacher for two years running and her name was Miss Cox. And she was tall and young and slim and beautiful and I instantly fell in love with her and I was going to marry her. And she made me feel that writing was something special and magical and wonderful and extraordinary and she also said some nice things about some of the stories I wrote.
00:01:07 I have brought some of those stories with me, and I was six and a quarter when I wrote it. And I’ll just read you a teeny-weeny bit of it so to give you a little bit of flavour. It just says, ‘there once lived a bloke called Jason and Jason was making a ship to go sailing over the sea. And when they got to their island called the Dangerous Island, there lived a blind bloke and every day, every monster come and took all his food and gave him the scraps. And when Jason got there, they told him not to worry, ‘we will catch them sometime. We will be okay. We will catch them tomorrow’.
00:01:48 As I grew older, it was very difficult to decide what I actually wanted to do with myself because there seemed to be several paths open to me. All that creativity that had existed in the house had meant that I wanted to be an artist, and I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to be a musician as well. As it happens, I took the wrong path to start with and I decided I was going to go down the music path, and within a couple of months or so, I knew I’d made the wrong choice.
00:02:21 And so I was left worrying about what I was going to do about it because I just couldn’t see myself finishing off three years of studying music at university. So fortunately, I was able to switch my university path at that point and I applied to the department for English literature instead, and that was also when I began writing really seriously and actually tying to get published.
00:02:55 All in all, I spent five years writing without getting anything published at all and of course, that was depressing. But of course, the moment you give up, then you don’t have any chance of success whatsoever. So I trained as a teacher, as a primary school teacher and went off to teach junior school children and found them to be a huge source of inspiration for writing children’s stories, a huge source.
00:03:24 And within a couple of years of teaching, I got my first book contract. And of course that changed everything. It changed…it added to my desire to carry on writing.
00:03:41 When you are trying to decide what you want to do with your life, it’s a very difficult problem I think, particularly when you’re a teenager, because quite often there are so many paths open to you and you really don’t know which one to follow. That is something that one doesn’t need to worry about so much because it’s a wonderful world out there. You can change. And I think I mentioned earlier that it’s important not to give up.
00:04:13 Those five years when I was writing and not getting anywhere at all, if I’d given up, I wouldn’t be sitting here.
Jeremy Strong is a children’s author. He’s a successful author now, but he spent five years without getting anything published, so his advice to young people is not to give up. “If I’d given up, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking… Follow your dream as far as you are able.”
More information about Authors, writers and translators
The UK average salary is £28,758
There are 37.5 hours in the average working week
The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male
- Determines subject matter and researches as necessary by interviewing, attending public events, seeking out records, observing etc.;
- Generates and develops creative ideas for literary material;
- Selects material for publication, checks style, grammar and accuracy of content, arranges for any necessary revisions and checks proof copies before printing;
- Negotiates contracts with freelance agents and with buyer on behalf of writer;
- Writes instruction manuals and user guides, technical reports, catalogues and indexes, prepares sales literature and writes technical articles for trade journals;
- Converts documents or spoken statements from original or source language into another language;
- Provides communication support for the hard of hearing or the visually impaired.
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