Career self-portrait, inspired by Agatha Christie
a writing exercise to try
“The name of Lucy Eyelesbarrow had already made itself felt in certain circles…” (A. Christie, 1957)
In fiction we sometimes come across a character who is wildly interesting, confident, and in full possession of themselves. Something in us gets excited because secretly we know there is a role and stage where we would be too.
Take a character like Agatha Christie’s, Lucy Eyelesbarrow from the detective novel “4:50 from Paddington”. Lucy is an Oxford mathematician who could have become a successful academic but becomes housekeeper extraordinaire and ends up helping Miss. Marple solve murders instead.
“…Lucy Eyelesbarrow, in addition to scholarly brilliance, had a core of good sound common sense. She could not fail to observe that a life of academic distinction was singularly ill rewarded. She had no desire whatever to teach and she took pleasure in contacts with minds much less brilliant than her own. In short, she had a taste for people, and all sorts of people – and not the same people the whole time. She also, quite frankly, liked money. To gain money one must exploit shortage.”
“Her success was immediate and assured. By now, after a lapse of some years, she was known all over the British Isles. It was quite customary for wives to say joyfully to husbands, “It will be all right. I can go with you to the States. I’ve got Lucy Eyelesbarrow!”
“The point of Lucy Eyelesbarrow was that once she came into a house, all worry, anxiety and hard work went out of it. Lucy Eyelesbarrow did everything, saw to everything, arranged everything. She was unbelievably competent in every conceivably sphere. She looked after elderly parents, accepted the care of young children, nursed the sickly, cooked divinely, got on well with any old crusted servants there might happen to be (there usually weren’t), was tactful with impossible people, soothed habitual drunkards, was wonderful with dogs. Best of all she never minded what she did. She scrubbed the kitchen floor, dug in the garden, cleaned up dog messes, and carried coals!”
Who are you work wise? What makes you secretly interesting and in what area are you highly skilled? What work could you do that sparks joy and would also serve others?
Try this: write a 1-page ‘career self-portrait’ in third person; just like Agatha Christie does. Talk about yourself on the page as if you were a character out of a novel – don’t hold back on the bragging and make any human weaknesses into something worthy and useful. Don’t forget to use a different name as you write.
Such a story can become a touchstone to understand yourself and keep you on track with what matters to you.
Consider sending me your 1 page portrait via the contact page.
PS: An online “Career Writing” course is starting soon where you get to try more fun stuff like this, with plenty of ideas for how to get started. Get in touch if you’re interested.