How do writers discover their love of writing?
Some authors have always been readers and writers. They have grown up surrounded by books and have imagined or written stories all their lives. Others discover, like me, their love of writing by chance.
Follow your dreams
“Write one page on anything you like,” our VCE English teacher said. The other students started to write, but I felt numb, apart from an overwhelming fear that made my hands shake. I knew my children were proof that my body was fertile, but what if my mind was barren? I wrapped my bulky cardigan around me and commenced to scrawl anything, just as long as the paper wasn’t blank.
How many girls were told, “She doesn’t need a higher education. She’ll only get married and have children.” So we tucked our dreams, along with the hand-embroidered linen, into our glory-box.
My life moved on from the frenzied earning and child rearing years. I remember sitting in the Robert Blackwood Hall, witnessing my son receive his university degree and thinking about the difference in our education. At fourteen, I’d left Malvern Girls’ Domestic Arts School to start an apprenticeship. Over the years, in an attempt to self-educate, I’d tried to read the dynamo labelled school books in the bookcase, but they were hard to understand. How could I relate to my two sons? Already they were trying to talk to me in a foreign language of hyperlinks and megabytes. I felt an overwhelming desire for knowledge and decided to go back to school.
Could I cope? What if I failed? My mantra became, ‘one day at a time’, and like a learner swimmer flung into the deep end of the pool I clung to my life buoy of supportive teachers and classmates.
Several weeks later the worst was over and I was part of a triathlon team. We powered forward, exhilarated in heart and mind. With the help of dedicated teachers the code was finally broken to my son’s books and they revealed so many previously hidden biological facts and literary treasures. Acceptance at TAFE, and later Monash, Melbourne and Swinburne Universities, resulted in a joyful ongoing journey of discovery, but the greatest discovery of all was my own innate ability to learn, and most important of all, to write.
These days, the long hours tapping away seem only minutes. I write anything and everything and beside me is a novel, Pickle to Pie. What writer worth her salt hasn’t written The Book? It was with great pleasure, via an acknowledgements page, to formally thank the many supportive and inspiring University lecturers, TAFE teachers, writing friends, the Mordialloc Writing Group, my family and friends who have helped me on my journey. Their kindness and generosity has changed my life and I no longer have a vague feeling of ‘something missing’.
I am no longer at ‘school’, but after finally completing the writing journey from VCE to PhD I want to say to other mature aged women who yearn for knowledge and need the help of others to show them the way, “Don’t be afraid to take the plunge. It is never too late to follow your dreams.”