My wonderful man has finished up uni for the semester, smashing his way through his final exams. We get the results next week, but to be honest, I doubt I could be prouder of him than I already am. Like a lot of us, he’s struggled with working out what he wants to do with his life and his career. He finally got the idea of getting into the law, tossed up between being a cop or a lawyer and went with what I think suits him perfectly – lawyer. He didn’t stop there though. He enrolled, he took the entrance test and then he picked up that first scarily large text book and got started. And kept going. I have every faith in him that he will keep going until he graduates and gets a job that will bring him fulfillment and interest every day. Not everyone can say that!
Including me. I’ve struggled for 10 years to work out what I wanted to do/be. I originally also wanted to be a lawyer, and we have tossed around the idea of me joining him and doing the same course, but as I, in a very un-feminist moment said – who would run the household? Urgh, I hate that those words came out of my mouth. I never wanted to be that person, the one that put their dreams on hold because life ‘got in the way’. And it does get in the way. There are so many things to fit into such a short time – work, food, housework, amazing tv shows (I’ve just started watching Mad Men – there’s a whole series of feminist blog posts right there!), online games, craft, friends, family, pets, boyfriends, lazy Sunday mornings in bed. It’s so easy to just let the days slip by and suddenly wake up 60 not having done what you thought you would. I took a year off from life about 4 or so years ago, mainly because I was on the point of having a full nervous breakdown, but also because I had a book that needed to be written and I wanted to get it out before I had life commitments and lost the moment youth offered me.
I guess that’s always been my life long dream, to be a published author. I used to fill exercise books and journals with little tales and attempts at fantasy epics when I was a child. When I was a teen, I managed to become the ‘Youth Affairs Reporter’ for the regional newspaper after doing some work experience there and accidentally starting a little war between two local pollies. Puffed up on the success of that, I sailed glibly off to uni to study ‘Professional Writing’ and media comm, a course that very nearly killed my creative heart. The internship in my third year certainly killed any plans of becoming a world renowned journalist – the politics and hazing of the office and the way advertising took precedence over the real stories horrified me. So I lost my way. I’ve dabbled with the idea of ‘becoming a writer’ ever since, as I’m sure most of us on here have. I’m starting to feel like it may be like being a waitress in LA – always waiting for your big break, for someone to stumble upon you and go ‘yes, you are who I am looking for’. I’m realising now that is highly unlikely to happen.
My illusions about the whole career as a writer dream were given a good ol’ rattling the other week when I came across this article on the Australian ABC news website: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-18/anna-funder-hits-out-at-media-companies/5032444
Even well known or paid writers are being asked or are assumed to be willing to work without pay. What chance do we, as ‘amateurs’, have of making something of ourselves and our writing? The part that depressed me most of all was the line “Writers’ incomes have halved in the last decade, from a peak of $23,000 per year in 2001.” Halved from $23k? My god. That was what they were earning in the year I became a Youth reporter and felt I had my whole literary career ahead of me? Times are tough for the creative out there, it seems. Oh how I wish for the days of rich benefactors who would put you up in a loft so you could churn out your next brilliant novel or poem.
The rise of the internet has made it both easier and harder to ‘be a writer’. We’re a dime a dozen but also a strong community. We all put our words out there, for whatever reason. I think my reason has to switch back from waiting to be ‘discovered’ to the joy and contentment I had as a child pouring the worlds that are in my head onto the paper. Or in the case of this blog, the world I actually live in, onto the screen. Because despite the niggling feeling that I should be doing something more with my life, I am very happy with how things are going. Living with Simon is a lot of fun, and he’s a wonderful boyfriend. I think next year when he goes back to uni, I will write a new book. Not to make money, not to go to a publisher, but just because I have a story I want to tell. I might even publish it myself as an e-book. To hell with trying to make the measly $11.5k we’re all apparently going to average. It’s about practicing a craft and the pure fun of putting words on paper/screen. In the meantime, I’m going to let life ‘get in the way’ and enjoy the holiday from Simon’s studying!