So, I’m back, and more married than ever.
Thank you to all the other flingers for their contribution to this great marital happiness. You are all very dear friends to me.
But let’s get back to business.
I am currently doing what I’ve always thought was my Dream Job right now, and it pleased me greatly to put it on my marriage certificate: writer. Nathan wrote “project officer”. Pffft. I’m already winning at this marriage.
I have wanted to be a writer for a long time. When I was in Year 6 I wrote a book about a killer shark entirely in rhyming verse, which my teacher deemed so awesome that it was put into the school library, with a library card and everything, so that people could borrow it, which I’m sure absolutely no-one did. But it was a motherf*cking legacy, yo.
A few years later I had another book with my name on it in the library. This time it was the National Library, and the publication was my Britpop fanzine Chester (it’s still there!). There must be some poor sod at the NLA who has to collect and document every publication produced in the country, even those ones made by fifteen year-olds and sold at Red Eye Records. Why didn’t he find my rhyming shark book too, eh? Slack.
At this point in my life, my illustrious writing career ebbed. Was it a coincidence that this happened during my Bachelor of Media (Print Media)? No, it was not. That degree taught me two things: 1) Writing about things you’re not interested in, because you have to is really, really boring, and 2) Writing is a very poorly-paid career with limited opportunities in Australia. I didn’t want to be a writer anymore.
But in every one of the ten years following graduation, during which time I loved pretty much all my jobs and even ended up with a “career” somehow, it was always there, that niggling thought that writing is the thing I should have been doing. I scored another entry in the database of the National Library thanks to Nosey In Newtown, which was selected for preservation for its heritage value, but whatevs, every man and his dog has a blog, right? It doesn’t make you a writer.
This brings me to the last year or so of my life, which has been about eradicating once and for all that big “what if” and doing exactly what I should. I have written every day, I have maintained two published columns, as well as an online column, and a blog, and this blog too for a while now. I have published articles and been paid enough to cover the rent. I’ve been working away at my own bits and bobs. About six months in, I stopped writing “Housewife” on my Customs declaration form, and started writing “Writer”. Unashamedly.
It’s been a truly satisfying and exciting experience. To actually enact the answer to the question “what would you do if you didn’t have to work for a year?” is a rare and luxurious thing, and I’m proud of what I’ve done with that opportunity. I’m thrilled to bits every time someone comments or emails or stops me in the grocery store to tell me that I’ve made them laugh. Sounds like a dream job, right?
Well, for me, no. Because I’ve learned two lessons: 1) Writing about things you’re not interested in, because you have to is really, really boring, and 2) Writing is a very poorly-paid career with limited opportunities in Australia.
Oh, make that three lessons: 3) I’m a slow learner.
It turns out I was right ten years ago. Writing is what I’m best at, and it should be what I’m doing, but not for work: just for fun.
It’s been awesome while it’s lasted, especially in this country where every paltry dollar earned goes so much further, but do I want to return to Australia and scrounge around for work writing things I’m not interested in for the NRMA Open Road magazine, just so I can call myself a writer? Hell, no.
Instead, I’m going to go back into one of those jobs I’ve always enjoyed before, for both the work and the pay, and – I hope – I’m going to continue being a writer on the side. And unlike before, I’m not going to beat myself up about that. It might have taken me ten years to rediscover what I already knew about writing, but I think I finally understand an important point I missed before: you can have a “dream” and you can have a “job” co-existing as two separate aspects to your life, and that’s just as worthy an aspiration as finding the two combined in one.