My next guest is a young woman who wears so many hats that I’m certain a diamond tiara is lurking in her closet as well, judging by her occupation. Not only does she have one of the most exotic jobs I have ever come across–no I won’t tell you now, you’ll have to read the interview–her side lines are REALLY COOL, too. This year alone she is the official blog writer for the Dublin Writers Festival 2009 and the Dublin Theatre Festival 2009! (If you’re a theatre fan this festival is a must see, at least once in your life.)
But wait until you read what Elizabeth studied at University…
Kristi: Welcome Elizabeth, please tell us what do you do?
Elizabeth: I write about poker for a living. I’m the lead writer for one of the world’s biggest (definitely the coolest) online poker companies. It’s pretty varied – I write everything from articles, press releases, web copy, advertorials, blogs to direct marketing and updates on our sponsored pros.
Kristi: That’s so COOL. (See? I told you!) How long have you done this?
Elizabeth: This particular job, 8 months. Prior to that I was communications manager for another gaming company. I also worked as a trainer, a freelance writer and I used to be a special needs teacher.
Kristi: What is your favourite aspect to your work?
Elizabeth: Getting paid to write every day.
Elizabeth: The people are cool and fun, the work varied and it hones my writing skills which helps with my creative writing and editing abilities. its also an art form – what I write has to be very specific and make money. I like the challenges that my job brings.
Kristi: What quality, skill or both do you feel makes you particularly suited to Poker Writing?
Elizabeth: You have to have a passion for writing and for poker. You also need to be flexible, organised and not precious about your writing. It’s like writing jigsaw puzzles daily – you have to be aware of your audience and be able to adapt to fit their expectations and needs.
Kristi: Is this rather twisted ability to write ‘jigsaw puzzles’ something you developed on the job? Or did you have any previous experience?
Elizabeth: I’ve always been extremely organised, and writing has always been part of my life. I used to say I wanted to be a poet when I was a child, when everyone else wanted to be a nurse or have babies.
Kristi: OK, I see where this is going.
Elizabeth: What does that mean?
Kristi: You’re a natural mental contortionist.
Elizabeth: What? I like anything mentally and physically challenging, if that’s what you mean.
Kristi: Ah! So can we add physical contortionist to the mix, as well?
Elizabeth: Uh, no. Let’s just say my innate skills suit the job perfectly. Web writing is an art form though, which requires constant development, needing to be continually honed. I’m not happy if I’m not learning.
Kristi: Where did you work immediately before your current position?
Elizabeth: I was working in Spain and Gibraltar with other gaming companies. I’ve worked in gaming for 5 years now. I love travelling, which the gaming industry enables. It’s also an industry where you move around to progress. It’s all very dynamic and exciting really.
Elizabeth: Not to work.
Kristi: Just checking.
Elizabeth: It’s very exciting but it does have its downside, instabilities due to profit downturns or laws passed. I’ve been made redundant twice but I just see it as a great opportunity to move in a new direction. My ultimate goal is to become a novelist.
Kristi: What other memorable jobs stand out from your past?
Elizabeth: Working as a special needs teacher definitely stood out. I worked with moderate learning difficulties, severe learning difficulties and emotional/behavioural difficulties, in three different counties in England, and 3 different schools. It was hard work and rewarding but you truly didn’t have an outside life. I realised I wasn’t painting or writing or doing anything other than work, gym and drink wine. I enjoyed it but I much prefer gaming. I don’t have much respect for the way special needs teaching is going in the UK, and couldn’t be part of something I don’t agree with. I think all schools and education authorities should look at Reggio Emilia schools. Now that is an education.
Other jobs that stood out were during University. I worked full time and studied full time. Hard slog but so very worth it. I would clean offices at 5 a.m. with a guy named Pat. We’d dash round to get it out of the way, then sit and practise Latin together.
Elizabeth: I was studying it at degree level and Pat was doing it for fun.
Kristi: I can’t decide which is more bizarre.
Elizabeth: I also worked for a Bookie at weekends and evenings when night racing was on, or else I’d work in a bistro. Sometimes I’d be the salad/starter chef and although I love cooking, I preferred to do the washing up. It let me switch off and daydream, or practise Latin verbs or just think about people. It was very peaceful.
Kristi: If I understand you correctly, you were a Latin studying, office cleaning, Bookie assisting, Bistro chef, who preferred washing dishes so she could think, type?
Kristi: I’m almost afraid to ask this, but what, prey tell, life experiences have you gained from your various endeavours?
Elizabeth: I think we gain valuable lessons and experiences in everything we do. I’m a very sensual person and believe in living life to the fullest. So everything should be sensory and enjoyable, from food, to exercise to work.
Everyone we meet teaches us something about ourselves – we just have to be open to accepting that and using it to our advantage. Some teach us all they have to offer in an instant – others can continue to teach us for a lifetime. The people I respect and admire are those that teach me something about the world. What it is to be a good person. They are the people I choose as friends. I guess it’s the same with jobs. You make the best of everything. If you go in thinking, ‘I’m going to have a bad day and not learn anything’, then that’s exactly what you’ll get. I’ve learnt lots from every job. I might not remember it all, but it’s certainly helped to shape me. I’m happy with that.
Kristi: Thank you for sharing not only your life experiences but your thoughtful outlook, Elizabeth. And as always thanks for playing along!