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Words of Hannah Kay

Where words come to life.

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Meeting The Editor of the UK Cosmopolitan Magazine

Today is Wednesday and I’m at sixth form, which means that today is a day of catching up on any work whilst trying not to procrastinate. Wednesdays are also the days when guest visitors come to visit and talk to us about a variety of things.

Previous guest speakers have included the BBC, who came in to encourage us to pursue a job in the creative industry; a professor from an arts specialist university to tell us about foley, the technique of making sounds from typical, everyday objects whilst telling us about the FDA course that was being offered (sound design for stage and screen); a woman came in to talk to us about gothic literature on the week of Halloween 2018.

However, today’s guest speaker was by far my favourite.

Today I met Farrah Storr, editor of the UK Cosmopolitan magazine.

The talk lasted just short of half an hour, but within that time period, something clicked within me, a lightbulb turned – that I was determined I will make it as a writer.

Farrah began by telling us how her father told her that she could only follow one of the two career paths: become a doctor or become a lawyer. She never told him that she wanted neither of those career paths. She wanted to be a writer, a journalist that writes for a magazine – just like me. She told us that her older sister entered a competition to go on a date with a male model. She won the competition; as an additional part of the prize, she also won a free trip down to London to the magazine’s headquarters. When she returned, her older sister told them how amazed she was that there were people actually getting paid to write, that there were actual jobs available in this sector.

And so, Farrah Storr began her climb, her evolution into the journalist that she always wished she was, to the journalist and chief editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine that she is today.

We were told that if we wanted wealth as a result from our careers, journalism is certainly not the right path and we would be better suited to something else. Though if we wanted an interesting career that we would fall in love with, then the wild road of writing awaited us.

To become a journalist, you have to start off small – just like you would have to do in any other jobs in the creative industry. As a freelance writer you get paid per word: for beginners, who have yet to establish themselves, get paid around £0.30 per word; those with experience get paid around £0.50 to £0.70 per word. There are even some – the extremely recognised journalists – that get paid around £2.00 per word; it is very rare that you would be paid this amount, so very few are, even with the vast amounts of experience written in their CVs. Getting paid £0.30 per word does not seem that much, initially. However, if someone writes a two thousand word article and gets paid £0.30 per word, they would actually earn £600 just from that one piece of writing. This, of course, swiftly builds up the more you write in your pieces and the more frequently you write. I’ll let you do the rest of the maths.

I thought that in order to become a successful journalist, I would have to move to London, the capital of my country. I would be too many miles away from home and earning nowhere near as much as I should be. At Cosmopolitan, a beginner journalist/intern would be paid about £22,000 per year. This is not enough if one wants to live sustainably in London (despite this, I wouldn’t be earning enough to start paying my student finances off so I wouldn’t have that to worry about). As expected, living in London is expensive – just like living is any capital city would be.

But then she told us about something called ‘Cosmo Houses’.

The people of Cosmopolitan Magazine heard our cries and seen our tears and so have created affordable housing. I know, it sounds too good to be true. But it isn’t. Cosmo Houses are for the people who do abide in the capital but need to move to London in order to take the next step in their career.

That’s amazing! But how to I myself into a position where in order to advance I need to move myself and everything that I have built to London?

I need experience.

Unfortunately, my local Waterstones does not take work experience (I have already asked several times) so this meant that I would have to find work experience elsewhere, which is quite hard when the place you live is quite small compared to other parts of the country.

She suggested creating a blog, keeping a diary, anything that showed passion for writing. This blog and everything that I had ever written is proof of that. So, as of the twenty-seventh of February 2019 (the day which I am writing this), I am making a promise to myself: I am going to read more and to write much more than I do now, I am going to venture into other categories of fiction that I wouldn’t normally look into.

What you read and write plays a major part in your interview with Cosmo, as well. Farrah told us that when employing someone new, they don’t necessarily look at what A Levels or degree or whatever qualifications you have; they want to see if you’re passionate about the job, about writing. That’s why one of the interview questions asked are “Who are your favourite writers?”. Farrah then continued to tell us that from the answer of that single question, they can determine if the interviewee’s ardour is like the embers of a dying light or if it roars like the flames of a raging forest fire, famished for more. It is a simple question, but holds so much importance. After all, you cannot be a writer if you do not read.

Although the session was cut short as the director of our sixth form interrupted with news that their taxi awaited them, I thoroughly enjoyed the talk. The first time I saw her was most likely when she appeared on an episode in season ten of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model as a guest judge and now I, an aspiring writer, was in the same, small classroom, as her. I enjoyed being in her presence: she reminded me of an English Isabelle Lightwood with a love for writing and producing content (just, minus the shadowhunter part). She reassured me and everyone else in the room that I did not have to complete a degree in journalism in order to become a journalist, which was a blessing to hear. She did a degree French and told us she doesn’t the knowledge she learned. Though as long as I have a clear passion for writing, then that is the main component for success in this industry.


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Hi, I'm Hannah. This is my blog.

Adventuring into fictional universes is always something that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Now, as an aspiring author, I get to create them too.