I remember deciding, when I was 12 years old, that I wanted to be an author. Things were different back then, in the ’70s. A teenaged girl in my home town did not simply say she wanted to be an author and expect to be taken seriously. We were expected to work in shops or type letters until such time as we found a husband – so my education was hardly nurturing. Or enlightening. But no bitter old school ma’am was strong enough to make a dent in my dreams, and I recall that during the summer break between grades 10 and 11, I sat in the corner window seat of my grandmother’s go-to cafe and splurged the rest of my wages on a pack of cheap cigarettes and a mug of black coffee. Because that’s what writers do, of course. I was all of 15 years old, and fancied myself as looking very intelligent and deep and edgy to those who might look through the window on their way past. If I’d had a beret, no doubt I’d have worn it that day. Sadly, although my new nicotine and caffeine affectations made me feel a little grotty, they did not make me a writer.
To be fair though, I also said I wanted to be a singer and an actor… It surprised everyone (including myself) when I packed up my 1963 Volkswagon the minute I turned 18, and drove all the way to Sydney on my newly minted provisional driver’s license, to explore the beckoning world of Performing Arts. Working in that industry was awesome, in so many ways – but it did not make me a writer.
Actually, the whole of my first three decades were pretty adventurous – but I did not become a writer.
So many roles. Some, I’ve rocked. Others, I’ve flopped. But the secret to keeping on keepin’ on is knowing that you’re not defined by one, two, or even ten less-than-stellar performances. You do the best you can in whatever roles you’re given and keep watch for that perfect part still being written for you.
– Bert Fulks (https://bertfulks.com/2017/01/19/why-you-dont-suck/)
So I turned up for different types adventures, and even found myself as a late-onset academic. I published a couple of academic papers, because that was part of the job. The university assigned me an Author site to record my performance, soon followed by various Author identification numbers/codes so that my work could be indexed, tracked and ranked at external websites. But at the time, I did not even notice they’d labelled me an ‘author’. I started and struggled through a doctorate, because that really should have been finished before I was hired. It was a horribly isolating experience, and a true test of my faith in my own thinking – and it took FOREVER to do on top of a full-time job. But it was not so difficult to write down. The best part of the whole thing is that, when asked my topic, I can say I have a PhD in bullshit detection. True story. That topic is the best thing I ever thought up!
Actually no. The best part is that a written thesis is actually a book. That means I’ve written (and finished) a whole book. Woot!
When it was finally over, I started my first true annual leave in a decade. But at the end of the first week I discovered that I’d spent six days straight at the computer, and had free-written 73 pages of a new book. Fiction: My first true love. It was totally spontaneous. I sat back and thought about that for a while… There must be something seriously wrong with me! Why not just watch tv? Or sleep?
But then it made sense. Finally having opportunity to pause and take stock of all that had happened in recent years, I realised that this was what I’d been hanging out for all that time: To finish one book and start another… over and over and over.
And then, strangely enough, all the widely disparate experiences of my rather odd life suddenly lined up. They worked together, each adding value that I could use. Other memories reminded me that I had in fact been a writer all my life, making so many notes, that were all relegated to wait for one day when…
But not any more. Why would I be a multi-identity metric-analysed Author when I have opportunity to be a Writer on my own terms? To write for the right reasons?
So I quit my job. There’s no way I can fail at this ultimate adventure because I’ve already got what I always wanted, even if I never make a cent from it. It’s time to own this.
I have literally thousands of notes and ramblings, scribbled down over a period of almost 50 years, waiting for this moment. They are immersed in everything I own: Inside old books, in boxes unopened since we moved here sixteen years ago, in drawers, USB drives, among the many piles of materials in my still-unmoved-out-of work office, and even on manky old floppy disks that I don’t have a hope of reopening.
I am a writer, and I always have been. This is my place. I like the neighbors too, in this alive and vibrant blogging community – their work is interesting, intelligent and thoughtful; but just as importantly, their interactions are inclusive and welcoming. It really does feel like I’ve finally come home.
Welcome to my site. I hope that you will visit from time to time, and follow along with this, my forever-journey.