From Lawyer to Author in Lots of Forward, Backward and Side-Steps
by Sheila Agnew
I count myself very lucky to have grown up in Ireland where books are as much a part of the national heritage as pints of Guinness and Niall Horan of One Direction. I can see yet the classroom poster of the poet, William Butler Yeats, forever framed as an earnest, lovesick, young man squinting at us through round Harry Potter type glasses. Like all born writers, books were as much a part of me as my eyes and my limbs; reading and writing as necessary for life as breathing. But when it came time to go to college, I shoved my dream of being a writer deep down in a drawer and locked it away. I though that I had to join the grown-up world of reality. I thought that dreams were reserved for children, and childhood was over.
I became an international lawyer in London where I enjoyed having the opportunity to travel and work in such far-flung cities as Cairo and Accra and Mumbai. Back in London, I partied it up with friends and boyfriends in my flat in Notting Hill. (It’s not as glamorous as it might sound—my flat was over the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Notting Hill Gate). But I had a great life, a privileged, secure, interesting life. There was only one teeny problem—it never felt like my life. It never felt real. I felt like a shadow or an avatar in my own life. So, while still in my twenties, I quit my job to travel around Asia and Australia and write my first novel, a book about the struggles of a group of female political prisoners on hunger strike. My novel wasn’t published. But I learned so much. I still think that the best way to learn how to write a book is to write a book. Continue reading “GUEST POST: From Lawyer to Author by Sheila Agnew”