Tuesday, 15 May 2012

When I grow up I want to a be a professional writer

I guess the use of the word "professional" implies you get paid for writing. Yeah, that's what I'd like.

Sunday last I was huddled in the boat shed down on the Yarra, watching the rain come down so hard it bounced off the pavement, and shivering. And regretting agreeing to being in a regatta as that meant I was obliged to turn up to practice with the rest of my crew, there being four of us in the boat.  And pondering exactly how long it would take before I was soaked through. (This paragraph right here may be the reason I'm not a professional writer.)

Three of us were there waiting on our fourth; let's call her Ernestina. (I'm currently reading The French Lieutenant's Woman.) Anastasia- yep - made that one up too - was muttering something about killing Ernestina if she didn't turn up, I was mentally agreeing while chomping down on my Strepsils and feeling sorry for myself. 

As we waited the discussion turned to professions. Our coach revealed that he was a professional writer, as if he didn't already have enough cachet being an experienced rower. 

It's at this part of the conversation I always start to feel slightly jealous of everyone else's profession. 'English teacher' just has no glamour attached to it at all. I mean, I can (sometimes) corral 30 students and keep them captivated while teaching them the basics of dialogue, but it's not the same as writing scripts for a living.  I decided to leave the first part of that teaching description out and revealed, "I'm an English teacher, apostrophes are one of my skills." It almost sounds good when you say it like that, doesn't it?  

I was immediately gratified when Anastasia (a research fellow in Psychology - sigh, I'm so easily impressed) asked for clarification on an apostrophe point. But still . . . an English teacher. Maybe I want to be a professional writer too, wonder how I do that?

So I asked a friend. OK, actually, I was having a bit of a whinge but she pointed out you go and do some research and do some courses and get qualified etc. Yep, she's write (get it?) I pondered, so I went and did some research.

This looks very interesting, and promising, I thought discovering you can do something called a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing. Ooh, I'd enjoy doing that. Oh, it's $18,000. That would involve a fair bit of emergency teaching to be able to fund that.  I wouldn't enjoy that so much.

Plus, well, let's face it I'm not that motivated to write, am I? I've done lots of short creative writing courses and enjoyed them, plus started my first best-selling novel What's a Nice Girl Like Me Doing in a Place Like This? but 'started' is the key word here. And I'm only blogging sporadically these days, the wild enthusiasm I had when I first started speaking up has dwindled. 

Maybe what I need is a writing buddy? We could write a chapter each, young adult fiction, I think. How hard can it be? Have you read Harry Potter? Really? That, and all the subsequent books were best sellers. And made into movies. All of them. And let's not even talk about that Twilight Series - it's just an overly long, anti-feminist, updated version of Romeo and Juliet, complete with sulky teenage sighs.  

Surely I could do better and let the female have a brain and a mind of her own. And, yet all three books were turned into films. Even better, three books turned into four films! And if you thought the books were bad you could only be aghast at how bad the films turned out to be. 

So who wants to write a book with me? We don't have to call the characters Ernestina or Emmeline, promise. 

Stella x

Josie would be a good name though, wouldn't it? ;-)


  1. I so hear you, Stella! I actually had some of my anecdotal stuff - not unlike the stuff I write on my blog - published in The Age(!!)in the '80s, and got paid for it. Received more accolades for that than I ever did for all those years of blood,sweat and tears in the classroom!

    I'm full of ideas for YA and A fiction, and even make starts that sound promising. Big problem for me is my lack of commitment to sitting down and doing it.

    My sister has recently completed a YA novel that she will possibly get published - if she gets on with her editing. She's had a good mentor in Scot Gardner too. She just committed to writing 2000 words a week and let the story tell her what would come next. It was terrific to witness! She's also an English teacher by day.

    Think the trick is to just do it.

    1. OK, will get motivated and committed . . . or not. Er, when I say committed I mean to writing. . .obviously. Or I'll just lie on the couch some more and read. One or the other for sure.

  2. My favorite teachers were always English teachers. They were the ones who taught me how to be a better writer. My guess is that you're inspiring your students to write, as you flirt with the idea of going pro yourself.

  3. alone, I like your constant affirmation of English teachers. Thanks. I'm betting you were a favourite student too- not that us English teachers are ever unprofessional enough to have favourites . . .

  4. The most positively influential adults in my life, were teachers... and television characters ;) Seriously. Take away Television, and take away teachers, and I'd have had no positive role models. - You matter to hundreds of future adults who will remember you for the rest of their lives.

    As for writing, I say enter some contests. Search on the web. Some give prizes.

    If you really like a story of yours, choose to write instead of watching TV for a week or so. I often write instead of tv. Two stories I wrote were started *because* there was nothing on tv and I wanted a decent show to watch, so I wrote one! lol! - Only for myself, though. I don't desire to be a professional writer. Writing is a distraction for me. Something to do when I'm bored and no better entertainment is available :)

    1. I hope so. Sometimes I get disheartened as a teacher because I really feel not only am I not making a difference, I'm not even having any influence.

      So I have to admit I was chuffed when a student I taught first term came by while I was in study hall and gave me a little hug! She's the one who lent me the Hunger Games series.

      Oh come on, let's write a novel together! It'd be fun!

  5. With you never online and me never online I'm sure we could churn one out in 20 years or so ;)

  6. Well, true but still. . .