When I was 8-years-old I declared I would write stories when I grew up. But as I didn’t know any authors, I suspected they might be mythical creatures, who lived in faraway lands. In any case, they definitely didn’t live in the suburbs of Adelaide.
Instead I followed the advice of well-meaning parents and carved out a career in journalism and then later as a media advisor. It has taken me decades to realise my initial dream.
I was baffled in the first year of my Bachelor of Arts Journalism degree. I had been a star writer at school and couldn’t understand why my story assignments were coming back scored with red-penned comments like: “Get rid of the adverbs!”
The penny dropped when our lecturer declared writing was not an art, rather a craft – much like woodwork – that needed constant, daily attention to refine and master.
To this day I continue to follow the process of writing, editing and re-writing.
My first job was as a news reporter cadet with Channel Nine in Adelaide. I was 20-years-old , and according to the Journalism Union, the youngest on-camera reporter in Australia, also the lowest paid. However, I loved my job so much I would have done it for free.
I was fortunate enough to be a journalist in the decades before the industry’s disruption. I’ve been a reporter, producer and presenter in the UK, Australia and Switzerland. I’ve worked in television, radio and in print, as well in commercial and public media.
In 2007, I inched closer to my dream. I interviewed people about their experiences of IVF, and wrote Making Babies – Personal IVF Stories (published by Scribe). It was well reviewed, (see media reviews below) but it still didn’t satisfy my desire to write fiction.
Nine years later, I finally wrote Dream Traitors - a novel about three people and their interconnected lives: a successful PR spin-doctor, his infertile wife and his TV celebrity lover.
The first few years I tried to figure out how to actually write a novel. I did a workshop in Bali, several courses at the Writers Studio, trekked through Nepal with author, Beth Yahp and her literary disciples and then wound up at the Writers’ Centre in the Six-Month-Novel-Writing Course.
I am proud to say my manuscript is now in the hands of an agent and several publishers and will, with any luck, be published next year.
I have applied to do a Masters of Creative Writing at UTS next year, to give me further tools and the confidence to write my next novel, fingers crossed, in at least half the time of Dream Traitors.
I look forward to the collective wisdom of the group, and in particular learning from experienced authors, such as Debra Adelaide, Delia Falconer and Gabrielle Carey. I’m a fan of Carey’s writing and once skived off work to finish reading Just Us.
Besides exploring and studying new genres, I’m looking forward to being stretched and challenged. I’d like my writing to be wilder and more daring.
I enjoy group feedback, as well as encouraging others. I’d jump at the chance to be part of the editorial team involved in publishing the students’ annual anthology.
It’s sometimes hard being a writer and enduring long stretches of time working alone. That’s why writing with and alongside others appeals to me.
Creative Writing is perhaps the course I should have done instead of a Bachelor of Journalism, all those years ago. But life, like writing is a journey and the side-trips we take add to the richness of both.