Derek Neale is an award-winning short story writer. A graduate of UEA’s MA in creative writing, he has recently helped to write and design a whole new generation of Open University courses, producing several practical books and recording interviews with playwrights, novelists, autobiographers and biographers about their approach to the art and craft of writing.


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Derek says – biographies always perplex, because there are so many possible versions. I once taught a class I called ‘The Fiction of CVs’ to inmates in a prison, unsurprisingly confirming my view that life stories could be bleak, bright, boring and inspiring – and invariably unstable and liable to change. It isn’t a question of lying so much as bending the story being told, editing, and starting and ending at different points. I recently had to write up an academic CV, which in effect omitted my life before the age of 40, the fact that I left school and home at 16, and so forth. The interested parties weren’t interested in that part of me. So, to make up for that, and to take account of my life-long intrigue with job ads (where so much reader- imagination is required) – here it is, the ‘fuller’ CV, or a version which includes one or two of the occupations that filled those missing years, some of the jobs supporting the writing, many merely funding its deferral –

A Biography in jobs (no particular order)

Door-to-door charity salesman; postman; fish farmer; itinerant fruit picker (grapes, oranges, apples, olives); grey van driver; copy typist; landscape gardener; Creative Writing teacher; father; charity phone worker; English Language teacher; lorry loader – lentils, flour, nuts and things; drystone waller; youth hostel warden; gardener; muesli mixer (industrial scale); wholefood warehouseman; writing facilitator; wood cutter; dish washer; handyman; sack carrier – brewery; white van driver; researcher; builder’s labourer; fork lift truck driver; student; university academic; decorator; garden centre site manager; maker of peanut butter (again large scale); trainee industrial manager; hand weeder on organic farm; English Literature teacher; hospital porter.

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