Life beyond Radford

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Last updated 19.05.2017

Janet Manley

Class of 1999
OCCUPATION Editor
Lives New york, United States
Attendance at radford Years 7-12
House Wandoo
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What does life look for you now?

I married an American I met during my skiing years and we now have two kids in Brooklyn, NY. If you can picture a family of four ginger-haired, white people strolling about in Patagonia fleeces, that's pretty much it. Oh, there is even a dog! I work as an editor by day and also toil away as a freelance writer. New York isn't my dream town, but it's undeniably the centre of all things writerly - at least in the U.S., which is exactly as Americentric as you always suspected. The coffee is abhorrent but fussy hipster cafes are slowly rectifying the situation. The shipping container fad survives.

Tell us what you are passionate about?

We spend as much time as we can bushwalking or trail running* on weekends. One of these days my husband is going to buy a goat and there won't be a thing I can do about it. In the meantime, I'm trying to write more letters to people. Small goals.*aspirational

What is your favourite Radford moment?

I loved the outdoor activities trips and taking drama class, even though I was unforgivably bad - #neverforget my portrayal of Claudio in Much Ado. I still look back on senior art as a damn joy - I could have dropped it and only taken five classes, but those were the periods that flew by the fastest. Radford people are good people.

Do you have a particular role model or inspirational figure from Radford or now?

There have been selfless bosses, teachers, coworkers, and coaches along the way who have taken the time to show interest in the younger, sillier me - good people who believe that rookies can bring value. Among the Radford teachers who had a lasting impact on this rebel: leyshon, foulcher, ms hoyne, and ms ward.

How easy was it to decide what to do in life?

Knowing you want to be a writer really isn't enough - I laid out no path whatsoever to get there.

Did your further study or career go exactly as you'd planned?

When faced with the choice of an open-ended arts degree or a more vocational degree, I chose the former. This left possibilities wide open, but I have often wished I had gained hard skills (e.g. Reporting) straight out of the gate. For this reason, I did a masters in creative writing, and even this, if more rigorous and directed, was just a beginning.

What advice do you have for current students?

I was proud of my ability to coast along in high school without ever really trying or doing the work. If this is you, let me just say that you're missing a huge opportunity to try, to fail, and to learn in a forgiving environment - no one cares if you literally fall on your face, which I did repeatedly in the Interschools XC. There were a lot of things I thought I wasn't good enough to put my hand up for in high school, and now, as a three-hundred-year-old sage, I can see that no one is ever ready, and you had best give it your all from the start.

Anything else that you would like to share?

I regret the chunions.

Where are you now?