Writing is not something that comes easy to me or, up until a year ago, even naturally. Every time I sit down to write my guts wrench and tie up in knots, words start running through my head. Not the quality coherent sentences of a now qualified journalist, but a jumble of meaningless drivel. But I do enjoy writing. Once I get past the initial, “No Mum PLEASE I don’t want to go and write today, please don’t make me,” I do truly like it.
I’m not really sure how to write about writing, I’ve never done it before. In fact, until last year, I didn’t even know I could write. So I guess there have been and will be a lot of firsts for me on the writing front. The inception of my writing career has everything to do with my brother and his perseverance that, yes I could write if a just gave it a go. I knew he was lying. He had started a writers club and was desperate for me to attend. He convinced me by saying that I didn’t actually have to write anything, it’s just that he appreciated my opinion so much he thought it would be helpful to have me along to critique other peoples work. I was defenceless against the flattery.
I was adamant that as soon as I showed up to this writers club all his ‘writer’ friends would take one look as me and hiss me out of the room, like little vampires, knowing I was an impostor. As you can probably guess (as I accept you are intelligent human beings that can put one and two together) I was not hissed and booed at. In fact, I knew most of the people in attendance, they weren’t the writer wankers I was expecting. They were Sam’s friends that I had met at one time or another. The encouragement I received for my exercise that night led me to flesh it out in the car on the way home and then sit down for two hours and manically write what would be my first short story, one which, for everyone who has read it, has been very quiet after doing so.
I guess it was a little dark. A white and black snapshot of the way I was living my life at the time. Raw and honest, that’s all I knew how to do. However, the feedback for it was undeniably good.
Though the piece felt gratifying to write and I’ve now entered it into my first writers competition (I told you there would be a lot of firsts) it seemed I much preferred to help people improve their work (I think I only wrote one more story for Sam’s writers club). I was regularly critiquing my brother’s stories, reading loads of feature pieces in magazines and reading one particular blog by Jack Marx, a cynical bastard and a journalist. He was the catalyst into my foray as career writer.
Jack Marx wrote one particular blog about the unfairness of sub-editors not being recognised for their work at annual awards. I didn’t know what a sub-editor was so I researched it. From what read it it was ‘someone who read other people’s work and told them how they thought it could be better’. I had a “holy shit!” moment and realised that at 24, after years of meandering around the work force, there was a job that was exactly what I like doing. I had never considered journalism before, not realising the many, many feature articles I devoured were a part of that world, only seeing the hard news and thinking that is not a job for the soft hearted i.e. me.
If you haven’t already worked out I’m big on research and when I decided to study journalism I did do a lot of it, but it was a friend of mine, who had completed a one year course the year before and received one of the coveted cadetships with The Courier Mail, who convinced me that JSchool was my best chance at a getting my foot into the door of this very competitive world. I’m glad a took his advice. I’ve gone from writing noob to (fairly) confident writer in less than a year. I’ve had news stories published and was able to intern with the likes of Trent Dalton and Frances Whiting, so in a little plug for JSchool, if you are considering studying Journalism and you are willing to work hard there’s no better place to go.
I should probably speak a little about how I write. Mostly I do it inside my head (haha, I just realised so does everyone else), while I’m driving or while I’m trying to get to sleep. I now leave a note book or my computer beside my bed because some of my best writing is done just before I nod off and if I don’t write it down it’s lost forever. Another trick I discovered the other day was to use my voice recorder on my phone. It felt a little weird at first, in fact I felt like a complete wanker. It felt like I was on CSI doing an autopsy. But like I said I do some of my best writing while I’m driving and as much as I’d like to write it (and yes I’ve tried) it’s a dangerous past time to do while driving. So for the first time I verbally wrote something, a review about the movie Bridesmaids, on my voice recorder. It worked quite well actually.
I guess what I’m getting at is that writing, the best kind, often comes at the most inconvenient times. This means you should always be prepared. I now carry a note book, several pens (in case six of the seven decide not to work), a digital recorder, my ipod touch which has a voice recorder, my iphone which has a voice recorder and a camera. Preparation for pretending to know what your doing is key to people thinking you know what your doing and I think most of us all feel like pretenders most of the time, but for me all of the time.