My dream job – by Tabitha

7 Feb

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.


8 Responses to “My dream job – by Tabitha”

  1. Beth February 7, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Bravo! Standing ovation.

    “She’s nailed it this time” they cry from the stalls!

    But just in case, if you ever need us to, we can draw your attention to this post, because some lessons are just so good we have to keep on learning them over and over. I should know because I have many lessons learned and learned again.

    I showed your blog to a colleague the other day who’s travelling to Vietnam on hols soon, and she called me pissing herself laughing and said it had made her day. You got the gift girlfriend.

    I want to read a long-form thing by you Tabitha Carvan. I would even read fiction if you wrote it (BIG call from me).

    To be continued…

  2. Karen February 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm #


    I was actually thinking the other day that you might also consider stand-up comedy (BIG call from me).

  3. Tabitha February 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Maybe I will do a long-form fictional stand-up comedy routine.

    • Karen February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      that would be supreme!

  4. Justyna February 12, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    Basically I want a book from you. A nice, good book I can read before I go to bed. You’ve always wanted to write one. So just get it done. After all the Hanoi writing subsides and you’re in Canberra and the venetian blinds are driving you mental, you will open your laptop and will start writing a book. I know it. For fun. And because you’ve always wanted to. And because it will get published and I will have a copy to show off to my other friends who never do anything cool or creative. Done.

  5. Lani February 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Thanks Tabs. I am having the same mental dilemma myself and I like your perspective that it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

    Can’t wait to read your blog on the joys of living in Canberra and all those clever quips you’ll come up with.

    • Tabitha February 22, 2012 at 7:04 am #

      Glad to be of service! And I refuse to accept that there’s nothing interesting to write about in Canberra. Feel free to remind me of that in a year or so.

  6. Suzysiu April 29, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I would also buy your book. But I’m terribly impressed about your current presence in the National Library.

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