I don’t recall a time when I haven’t written in some form or another. I can still remember sitting in my little classroom, at Brown Owl Primary School, writing an eight-page story about The Smurfs. Years later I went back to that school and was handed the story. I still have it. It doesn’t matter that the writing is awful, written in pencil and badly misspelled. What matters it is the first story I can recall writing.
Another snapshot of my childhood is the memories of walking around with one of those mini jumbo jot-pads. You know the ones that are really small, but have endless lined pages on line side and blank on the other. I used to write story after story on those. I also kept a journal. I think I started writing one because my sister had one and it seemed like a grown up thing to do. I’ve had a diary of some form or another since I was 8. Originally I am sure they were filled with non-whimsical nonsense such as went across the road to play with Anna and Michael M, played ball-tag with the Kovacs and just the sort of things that you always write when you are too young to think about the serious stuff. Further along the track they became about lyrics I loved, poetry that meant everything and anything to me and then my own musings.
Without even realizing it, from the time I was 7, I was already moving in the direction of becoming a writer. At one stage I did contemplate becoming a teacher like my Uncle David, simply because it seemed like a cool thing to do and teaching English really appealed to me. I think it was also because I was more than a little in love with words.
Maybe the most telling part of my desire to become a writer came from the fact I used to pretend to be an editor of a magazine. I would cut out Woman’s Day and New Idea articles and add them to my own magazine that I was creating. It’s kind of funny thinking about that now because I’m fairly sure at the age of eight or nine I didn’t really know what an editor actually did. I just decided that I wanted to become one.
Here’s the thing about being a writer. There are different caps you can take on. You can be the Professional Nonfiction Writer – The Journalist or the Fiction Writer- who can come in the form of the poet, the novelist or the scriptwriter and anything else you want to be.
I was in my early teens when I decided that I wanted to be a Journalist. I loved the idea of traveling the world, interviewing and writing stories. It didn’t take me long to realize that my niche was in Music Journalism – it’s still something I am passionate about but it’s not a necessity for me anymore. I really do believe that one of the reasons why it was easy for me to quit Music Journalism a few years back was because while I was passionate about it, I was not in love with it.
I loved writing reviews,interviewing bands and discovering new music but I always felt like there was something missing. While it satisfied me as a lover of all things musical and as a Journalist, it left me unsatisfied as a writer.
I think I always knew that while Journalism was a career choice, it wasn’t as much a calling. I didn't have the motivation and cut-throat tactics to stay a Journalist long-term. I didn’t have the drive. I didn't feel like I completely fitted the mold. When I wasn’t writing reviews, dealing with interviews or features, I was doodling with story ideas.
I always secretly wanted to be a novelist. In my teens, I thought about being a romance writer but kept it to myself mainly because let’s face it most people when they talk about romances do it with a note of derision. Or at least the friends I had in high school did.
Wanting to write a book and actually deciding to do it are two different things. You have to be motivated to push yourself through the waves of self-doubt, derision and sometimes straight out self-loathing. And you have to really, really, really want it. You have to want it enough to have the patience to write, research, edit, rewrite and prepare and accept rejection letters. You have to want it enough to realize that while it’s a very lonely job, it’s one of the most rewarding.
I can’t tell you the exact time I decided I wanted to be a writer because for me it’s always been an inborn ability. It’s just always been who I am. But I can tell you when I realized that I wanted to be a novelist. I was 26 years old, sitting in my apartment in Geelong, working on a creative piece for a Literature assignment. I remember thinking that it felt right writing the short story. That short story turned into a novel called Live and Let Die, the first full-length novel I wrote. It was written for a bunch of friends and never something I took seriously. It was only after I finished all 300 pages of it that I realized that I loved writing it. I still want to pull that novel out, rewrite it and turn it into something worth selling to a publisher.
That short story fuelled my creative juices and a year later I would start writing Nowhere to Run – in a leisurely pace. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago I started writing Nowhere to Run seriously. It hit me that this wasn't just for a lark anymore but a desire inside had been awoken and becoming a published author was now a mission.
It’s taken me a long time to realize that writing fiction is what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s kind of scary to realize that no job will really satisfy me as much as sitting down in front of my laptop and churning out words. Granted, I am still in the baby stages of a writer - working on my first novel (Or at least the one I want published) and hoping to get it finished, edited and rewritten so I can start looking for an agent to help get me published. It’s a scary process. It’s an exciting one. It’s a frustrating one. It makes you doubt everything you believe in and will result in endless rewrites.
I don’t think I ever consciously thought of becoming a writer. I just did it. From the time I was old enough to scribble, I scribbled. If I wasn’t writing, I was reading. One of the most important lessons I have learnt in my life, is that if you want to be a writer, you better damn well read. And don’t just read one genre, read everything.
You could ask me why I wanted to be a writer or the decision I made to become one. I don't think I made that decision so much as I just knew it was something I was born to do.It may seem like a strange answer, but I bet if you ask other writers you will get the same answer or one similar.
The reality is that you can’t become a writer, because you are simply born one.