‘The Huntingfield Paintress’ is being published on the 2nd May 2016 by Urbane Publications. The author, Pamela Holmes has written a guest post which I am very happy to be able to share on my blog. There is also a chance to win copies of her book at the end.
Don’t Ask Them
I probably did many things wrong when raising our two boys. But one mistake I did not make was to ask: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I winced when a friend or relative, seeking to find something to say to awkward teens, posed that most dreaded of questions. Why my dislike? Because I know there is no answer. What we want to be and to do changes as we go along, and that is to be applauded. For our lives and our wishes and even our skills change as we age. I have always feared that a child or teenager, keen to provide a polite answer to a polite question, may settle with equanimity, even relief, on an automatic reply, putting in place an assumption about what they ‘will be’ or ‘will do’ that he or she never re-visits. How many lawyers and bankers and dentists have wandered into those professions because their mother or father did that job? Or worse, felt pushed to follow in the family business or job, having never asked themselves what they wanted?
Behind the question is an assumption that there is only one answer. But these days more of us are living longer, healthier lives so why should we settle to one profession or job or work type? Due to finances, health, caring responsibilities, even boredom – the prompts are myriad – many of us will change what we do and do so happily. I have worked as a farmhand, nurse, journalist, TV presenter, campaigner and dementia trainer. I am now embarking on a career as a novelist. My first book, The Huntingfield Paintress, comes out in May when I will be 61 years old. It is based on a true story, a Suffolk Victorian vicar’s wife who created a medieval ceiling, a fresco of angels and saints, in her parish church over a six year period starting just before she turned 50. As Mildred Holland worked from 1859 onwards, she would have been considered bonkers to risk life and limb painting up a ladder at this age.
Of course many people start writing in later life, and thank goodness for it. Diana Athill, Penelope Fitzgerald and Frank McCourt are examples of three people who, after employment or child-rearing or teaching, embarked on highly successful careers. Martin Amis may have argued that writers lose their edge once they reach old age (although I do not understand how he can deny that Tolstoy, Goethe, Yeats wrote with virtuosity as they aged) but he cannot challenge the fact that increasing numbers of people begin successful writing careers in later life.
Writing is not the only imaginative endeavour which marinates with experience and understanding. Many of us in the UK are engaged in creative activities but I wonder how many would have predicted in earlier years that this would be the case? So don’t ask the young what they want to be when they grow up. It assumes that we human beings stop developing and changing and growing as we go along. I don’t want to do that. Do you?
‘The Huntingfield Paintress’ is available as an eBook from Urbane Publications and the paperback can be pre-ordered – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-huntingfield-paintress/
Author’s Website – http://www.pamela-holmes.com
Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications is very kindly giving away three copies of ‘The Huntingfield Paintress’. To enter just leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book.
Terms and Conditions
This competition is open worldwide.
The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 9th May 2016.
The winners will be notified of their win within 7 days of the closing date and their details passed on to Matthew Smith who will arrange to have the prizes sent out.
Good luck! 🙂