I’ve always considered myself to be creative, but until 2019, I never considered becoming a creative professional. And it wasn’t until 2021 that I began investing in the education relevant to supporting this endeavour. I’ve applied my creative skills in landscape gardening, bicycle and home repairs, and teaching English as a second language, but somehow I’ve always avoided considering my creative abilities as the foundation for a career.
Since I was a child, I always gravitated toward painting and I enjoyed Lego: I began with building what was on the box, but by the time I was about 8, I only built what was in my mind. Four-wheel steering? Yes. Improved crash resistance? Of course. I always enjoyed anything creative with my hands such as pottery and sculpture, and visual arts such as painting and drawing. While I did well at perspectives, I find myself unable to draw something that someone else can see. My style is very abstract.
I first realised I should write a book when I was at university in the early 90s. It was like a deep surge within me but, just as with my then chosen profession of psychology, I knew I was too young and naive. I knew I wasn’t ready yet. Over the years, I began writing more and eventually created a website. I took the plunge in 2019 and began a few online courses but soon realised I needed something much more structured and sufficient.
2020 saw the end of my dreams and my life. I had packed up and was ready to move to Canada to be with my love, but borders closed and I was left with a choice: restart in Japan or return to Australia. I chose the latter. By May the writing was on the wall with my love and by August I had resigned myself to maybe being stuck in Australia permanently. In October, I repeated past decisions and did the sensible thing: study at university to help me help others. Writing never occurred to me.
February 2021 was the change-point: the course coordinator at UNE dropped the ball and told all the students to come back in June. This gross incompetency triggered me: if this is academic professionalism in Australia, then I can’t fall far from ‘untrained’. I figuratively threw up my hands and within four days had enrolled at USQ for creative and critical writing.
Not. So. Fast!
8 weeks later, the coordinator informed the students that, apparently, ‘creative writing’ at USQ means any form of written output. My attempts to inject exercises with creative writing, as per its generally accepted meaning, were met with thick criticism if not thinly veiled disparagement. After battling through a plethora of academic research activities and articles, I began to look elsewhere for my professional education.
I discovered Film Courage on YouTube, although not quite what I needed, and began researching different narrative forms. I also joined a MeetUp group for writers. Astonishingly, most websites and books have detailed descriptions of what ‘deep POV’ vs ‘omniscient third person POV’ constitute, and ‘show, don’t tell’ is a mantra oft quoted, yet very few bother with sufficient examples, if any are included at all.
My profession in Japan was as an educator, and ensuring my students developed their skills and knowledge by the end of each lesson, if not each activity, was my standard operating procedure. Bringing this to bear on creative writing educational content, I am sorely tempted to write a book exemplifying the differences of narrative style and tone as opposed to endless explanations.
So this is where I have arrived in my adventure into the world of creative writing skills acquisition as of December 2021. Two failure universities and a swathe of courses, websites and umpteen videos watched, and still I’m struggling to format my stories coherently with any confidence.
In November I was accepted into QUT for fine arts in creative writing and that begins next February. I’m Zooming with a writer coach tomorrow morning after which I move house for the fourth time this year.
Psychologically, I still have one foot firmly planted in the educator realm, and I still have an earnest desire to continue helping others. But my other foot is gaining a lot of traction in the creative realm and is leading me thusly.
I was cascading down in an avalanche over the past two years but the avalanche stopped about two months ago. I’m digging myself out and am almost free of the chaos.