Thursday, 12 March 2009

Day Jobs

Mention of Andrew Garve and Cyril Hare naturally leads me to a subject of great personal interest – crime writers who combine their fiction with a day job. To illustrate my other life, you may be amused to read my legal reminiscences as an employment tribunal advocate on the BBC website, or even to watch my less than George Clooney like performance when they filmed me the other week. Or you may conclude you’d rather not know!

Apart from journalists and lawyers, police officers often turn to fictional crime. Maurice Procter was probably the first noteworthy example in the UK, and he has had many successors. Those whose main source of income was not obviously criminal include the man who wrote as George Bellairs, who was a bank manager. (On second thoughts, perhaps we do think of bankers as criminally inclined these days.)

At the CWA Daggers Dinner last year, I had the pleasure of meeting, and sitting next to, Elizabeth Corley, a successful businesswoman. Janet Neel shuttles between high finance and crime writing. Michelle Spring is an academic, and so is Christine Poulson. For as long as one can juggle two careers, it’s a fascinating thing to do.


Jane said...

Martin, I would be interested to know if you would you prefer to be a full-time writer or do you think your day job enhances your writing?

Martin Edwards said...

A good question, which isn't too easy to answer simply. Perhaps the subject for a separate post. But briefly, the theory of being a full-time writer is very attractive, especially when time is so short. But the more full-time writers I've met, the more I've realised the pressures they are under. So I do recognise I'm lucky to have two things to do that I enjoy.

Juliet said...

Hey, great peformance! (Presumably merely a trailer for the feature-length version?)

I never rated that Clooney fellow, anyway.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi, Juliet. Alas, I'm not sure Redundancy, The Movie, is really great box office! The filming was a slightly surreal experience, because it was done in the middle of a shopping centre and I was just asked to talk, with no indication of how long for....I'm sure Robert Peston gets a bit more guidance, but it was fun and made a change from the office.

crimeficreader said...

Martin, you are quite right in what you say. I have a friend now on a four day week and I'm sure you will have read of the Toyota plant's plans in north Wales: another cutback for all, in an attempt to preserve the workforce for when the economy takes off again, at a plant that is producing for the modern and more green economy and hence, leading edge. We cannot afford to lose this asset on the global stage.

What we are experiencing now is worse than in the early 90s, but it's to see more creative thought (leading to potential preservation for employment) and longer-term thinking. Back then, it was mainly "bust" or "not bust", and "bust" hit quickly as it mainly in the property and associated sectors that we had a problem. The banks were affected, but since then and following a recovery they have become more creative with their products, leading to a massive problem today. (I feel my descriptive narrative is understated on the last part! ;-) )

I just thank God that some companies are keeping a longer-term vision and I hope that as a society we can all help one another out, as we are faced with all sorts of demands to keep going. It's more than flexibility; it's also about being creative in thinking about what you can do next to continue your income. I have one neighbour working away on the other side of the country. In seeking work, I have also opened up my geographic area quite widely, as yet, to no result. It's a very hard market and employers seek very strictly defined criteria because they can; in a pool of resource not seen before.

People with jobs need to know this. A reduction in income for a period - to be determined in most cases - is better than no job at all. For them and for our economy. And come to that, for our part in the global economy. Once those shutter RORO doors were opened, the flood started. And so many suppliers in the UK are not even UK owned. Thus, if there is a unique selling point and source of diversification and contemporary development, as has been reported for Toyota in the UK, it needs to be preserved.

And better to have a job at 80% thrust than no job at all. And as soon as redundancy is first mooted, it's better to take advice as you say, and to start looking for something else, immediately. In today's climate, it's like searching for or being the needle in the haystack. Finding the "result" can take a long time.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Rhian, you're absolutely right, and I do hope your job search is soon successful.