You’ve lost your hope but you’ve not been idle

“You’ve lost your hope 

but you’ve not been idle.”

I wrote this on a piece of paper from my journal recently. It summed up my experience after graduation (and even before it). It comforted me to express the truth to myself so clearly. But also because I worked something out recently which has given me some hope.

“How did I not think of this before?” It’s simple but often overlooked. To find out what we enjoy and are good at, we have to try many things. This is what we all did in High School and College. My efforts these last months have often lead to dead ends and blocks I forgot to challenge. Through lack of confidence and general bitterness at what it means to be an artist in this society, I forgot to do. That is, I forgot the most essential action in all this, to keep trying occupations and roles. Getting a lot of knock backs and not getting anywhere with my efforts and applications was part of forgetting this. It’s a simple idea, that’s not easy but effective. To re-discover this feels like hope.

Though I have learnt an enormous amount about myself, the industry surrounding artists (writers) and the type of life we face, I’ve been limited in gathering some types of information. I’ve had little exposure to the publishing industry, gallery environments and other areas of the arts sectors. To get a feel for curatorship and the details of publishing a book would give me the real life knowledge that research can not provide. This is the very active doing aspect that had been lacking thus far. I need to throw myself back into pursuing these opportunities. Someone will say yes eventually and I’ll have more than a good idea if I am moving in the right direction.

I have a few directions in mind, which makes picking rather desperately confusing. They all seem correct in that they seem to fit my needs, talents and interests. The first is Editing and Publishing, the others being Interior Decoration, Curatorship or an occupation with feminist (aid/crisis) organisations.

The first is the easiest to consider as I have a preexisting fire to argue about the content of stories and how I see their meanings. I have obviously done a degree which gives me a lot of information about story and the conventions of writing. Editing and Publishing would be building on that knowledge. And, it would be sublime if my Creative Writing degree could be a foundation for specialising in Fiction editing.

I was set on continuing my education at University and found a great Editing program at Melbourne Uni. It has been my dream for numerous years to move there. But if I was to decide to move I wouldn’t be able to do so for at least a year. So I was stuck again. I also foolishly listened to the advice of people who know nothing of the arts industry and turned their noses up at the suggestion that I might get non-award training (not a nationally recognise diploma or program).  It was the awe of discovering that I have to do, not just ponder, that made me reassess my previous judgments. Which has lead to finding great, affordable distance ed programs which will no doubt inform me as to my aptitude and passion for the editing and publishing fields. I actually feel hopeful! Instead of thinking I had to wait for a year and a big move to study this topic, I can study it here and possibly find out now if this field suits me. I can set up a payment program and do it!

What is also exciting is that my partner has recently made the big, inspiring choice to go into Game Design. It’s taken several years, but he’s reaching the point of solidly knowing where his interests and (immense creative) talents intersect. He was previously doing a medical science degree as sussing out a possible career and avenues of retraining. He’s found by doing this where his bigger passions lie. Not only am I happy for him, but this has been an incredible example of exactly what I have been circling around.

I also have a great girl pal who has followed a similar pattern of trying out training and a number of occupations so as to know herself better. She started a teaching career, considered training in being able to take blood and administer injections and is now doing Interior Design at CIT. I’m impressed by her fortitude and that she isn’t deterred by negative attitudes which surround those changing jobs and degrees often.

It sounds so simple but realizing what I have about action, has had a big impact on me. I’ve got some direction back.

The fall out of “Hard for Money”

I’ve been pretty down after I read an article on paying writers: hard for money, in the winter 2014 edition of Overland (here are two other articles on the topic as well). It was upsetting because I have lived a lot of the reality being written about and I have found it depressing to my core to have little to no money given in exchange for the hours, time, craft and skill I put into each article I write. But this was also the exact, hard hitting, TRUTHFUL information I have been looking for, for well over 6 months. So I’ve been in a slump, realising how fucked I am, (having felt that to be true and now having it confirmed). But this just means I have to get another job (in a creative area I enjoy) to be able to live. Which was what I was working towards anyway. Yet I deeply mourn writers lack of rights and proper payment for work.

A few nice things have occurred that have helped me feel less chronic despair though. My memoir piece, which is literally a ripped out, still bloody, piece of my past and soul, is being published on the Feminartsy website this Wednesday. My interview through The Writers Bloc is being finalised and I should be going on air soon. I also got up the courage to ask about internship opportunities at Editia publishing and I’ve got back some very promising correspondence.

The reality of ‘the writing life’ doesn’t go away because of the good moments that bring me a sense of value, nor does the good outweigh the profoundly difficult, but they do enable me to feel hope.

The “scary” article published

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It happened very fast! One day I heard back from Lip and they were saying they wanted to publish my piece, the next day it was on their website. It was the fasted ‘submission to print’ process I have ever been involved in. Perhaps because I spend an inordinate amount of work on this article, so it needed very little fixing up.

It’s a little bizarre, having happened so fast though. I spent far too long fretting and feeling doubtful about submitting it but it has taken very little to get it published. My worries meant I had it edited by two semi-professionals and I did an immense amount of re-reviewing myself, which contributed to the piece being good. But I am left feeling a little flat. Most of  that anxiety was misplaced. My impression now is that it mostly hindered me.

Take it from me, unless you are going to be paraded around as a genius once you submit your manuscript, short story or poetry, the months/years of doubt won’t necessarily feel like they have been made up for or balanced out. I’m relived and grateful to be published by Lip. It’s been a small dream and goal of mine since 2012. But I might have felt a bigger high about it though, if I had not spent so long procrastinating over the one article.

Submit sooner, I say.

the oblique encouragement of an online quiz

I don’t put a lot of my trust in online quizzes but when one is based on the psychological work of Howard Gardner, I don’t discount it. In my ever craven search for more information on my future job/career path, I found myself drawn to this quiz and to finding the book it was based on.

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory was first published in Howard Gardner’s book, Frames Of Mind (1983), and quickly became established as a classical model by which to understand and teach many aspects of human intelligence, learning style, personality and behaviour – in education and industry. 

I came out as highest in Linguists:

You enjoy saying, hearing, and seeing words. You like telling stories. You are motivated by books, records, dramas, opportunities for writing. Effective techniques of enhancing your learning using your language intelligence include reading aloud, especially plays and poetry. Another idea is to write down reflections on what you’ve read. You may also enjoy exploring and developing your love of words, i.e., meanings of words, origin of words and idioms, names. 

I was also strong with self awareness and spatial skills. This stuck me as true, but also had the unusual effect of encouraging me to further consider retraining/furthering my training within the realms of language, writing, editing: linguists. I’ve still got plenty to consider but taking this awareness to a careers advisor in the future could be useful. It all helps.

Resources:

http://www.literacynet.org

http://www.businessballs.com/howardgardnermultipleintelligences.htm

I did a scary thing…

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I finally submitted an article to Lip magazine. I started writing about a specific issue to do with human sexuality about a year ago. I was encouraged by a great friend who read my ideas on tumblr, to consider publishing. So I fleshed out the ideas and had it looked at by two exceedingly competent editors. I had my friend look at it again too. By that stage he was a lecturer at the University of Canberra and I trusted he could give my work a good polish. That he did! I love a tough but kindly spoken, detailed editor. 

I’ve been re-editing it for far too long. It was the nerves of submitting to a publication I worship that got in my way. But I eventually pushed through that and ended up with a scrupulously scrubbed piece of work. I submitted the article today! I am ridiculously proud of what I have crafted (and hand crafted with care and love, it is). 

I’m feeling positive about how it will be received. But most of all I’m proud that I persisted with this article and through my lack of confidence. 

🙂

you literally lose some and win some..

I applied for Overlands 3 months internship (starting early next year) and by chance, for their editing position as well. I spent a fair amount of time on those applications and suited the selection criteria pretty darn well (which is new and brilliant to me). I didn’t end up getting either.

I’m reminded that this process is slow with plentiful rejections, unanswered emails and dead ends, but there are also breaks. I got an unforeseen email that suggested that someone out there knows my work and thinks I am worthy of their time. I got an email from Duncan Felton about being part of the editing team for Grapple Publishing‘s second annual. It’s a fair compliment to be able to jump the application process and be asked to be a part of this project. This is just the kind of editing opportunity I need too.

I am much flattered and grateful to be offered this placement. It will certainly give me some editing experience and clout. But most of all, it might let me know if I like content editing as much as I think I do. Which is particularly valuable as I am considering a few possible shorter courses or degrees. If editing turns out to be my thing, then with a bit more training and some experience behind me, this could turn into a tangible, paid occupation; the holy grail I am looking for!

That’s a lot of, “if this goes this way, I might” but as any writer and artist will know, we live off the moments that give us even a snifter of direction and encouragement. I still have days where I am nearly in tears explaining how stuck I feel, or I’m being talked out of my relapse into embarrassment that I don’t have a job yet.

So I turn every opportunity and rejection into meaningful information about my direction if I can. I likely didn’t have enough editing experience or training to get the Overland jobs. That’s ok! Knowing this and being part of the smart Grapple editing group might help me get the next opportunity.

It all counts and has value.

 

I’ll keep you posted on the Grapple experience.

What do you do with a writing degree?

It might be better to not get career advise a few days before graduating. It wasn’t exactly doom to hear that my options are to re-train, learn to do admin or do honors. But not exactly uplifting either. I felt, that afternoon, a bit ripped off and despondent. That feeling continued into my graduation day.

I have a few options though: the first is to get involved with the industry that surrounds writing; publishing. The second is teaching. As I refuse to even think of teaching anyone under 18 years of age, I would have to enter at least four years (full time) of further study (getting a PhD and all). It’s not a bad option, I could see myself relishing teaching gender and literary studies, but its daunting to think of undertaking more study. I could also totally re-train and go into an artistic pursuit that I have a preexisting interest and talent in- interior design.

I don’t think I will be going horribly wrong if I go in any of the directions. But that doesn’t mean the path is obvious to me. I could also see myself being fulfilled if I got involved in a feminist/equality driven organisation (that promotes some area of women’s protection/rights/issues). I wish I had pursued the internships I was considering months back. I would surely have more of an idea of my direction, if I had. I just have to make sure I do it now.

None of these paths would exclude me from a life of writing or pursuing freelance writing, which is still my plan. But would give me a steady income from my supplementarity passions.

This is a bemusing process and the things I am discovering are not always inspiring, but though I was somewhat upset to hear what I did in the careers advisory office, it did give me a tangible direction. I am not the only one craving this. I overheard other graduates after the ceremony asking each other how they were going finding a job. They were having no luck, and some of them were chipper about this, and others more grim.
“What do you do with a writing degree? Go into publishing.” I heard a graduate answer for herself in the foyer.
She was right.

I forgot I could do anything

“You can do anything you want sweetie.” most of us were told that by our parents. If we were fortunate we were told that. They leave out the bits about classism, racism, sexism and the glass ceiling, but it’s an inspiring sentiment regardless. And it’s more than sentiment, however naive it may feel, surely it is better to live with a feeling of possibility than assuming few opportunities can be had?

At some point I forgot that I could shape my life to the direction I wanted it to be. School and parents guide us and sometimes cripple our abilities to think for ourselves. But again, I forgot it was up to me how I wanted to live. The prescriptive narrative is both temping and depressing. I don’t think I’ll be escaping the rat race entirely and living in Barbados with my sudden millions, but I could live in a commune under a dormant volcano near the border of Queensland. And why don’t I?

I was reminded that I had more control over the shape of things by something that is intangible to me now. But the idea has been emboldened by a recent encounter with a brilliantly strange woman. As she says, she may have paranoid schizophrenia, but this doesn’t cancel out that she’s living an authentic life; living off her art and wits. She is doing what I feel the Romantics and old bohemians did with cunning and some approximation to nobility; living off their art and accepting lack of toothpaste and expensive lingerie when it arrives in tumultuous spurts.

I have also recently met a new person, who’s exuberant past shows a courage to take risks for relationships and a colourful path to knowing his truest self. I do compare it to my own past, even though comparison is rarely useful. And I don’t come up badly, but I do see a fearful influence that might be called “stability” but may also be called “cowardice” and lack of imagination.

The point is not to bejewel oneself for the sole reason of a marvelous life tale or to impress on some level, but I do wish I went looking for a few more daring opportunities. The sort of daring that is daring to me; that challenges my fear and limitations I place on my spirit. My fears may not cause others discomfort, which brings me back to the idea that my life direction must be for myself and for the impressing of myself.

I don’t know what manifestation of action this concept will take me, but that shall be revealed in the future. For now I have the idea and I want to let it change me.

two reminders

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While looking for a new header image for my Twitter account I found this picture from a year or so ago, when I lived in Downer. I created a studio from the unused, but lined shed in the backyard. I dreamt up what each corner what look like once transformed and I made it so as best I could. I made zines and wrote in that shed madly and frequently. I had a space to go to that was away from the noise of the house and which was devoted to the act of creating. 

I also found a blurry photo of what my room used to look like. I was astonished at the amount of paper on the walls, magazines, books and colours. I had a lot of inspiring things around me that no doubt kept me creatively alive. 

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I had forgotten about these aspects of my past. Just as I often forget what I have achieved and my confidence in creating.   These two images are nice reminders of who have been. They bring me a little more faith in my creative narrative and the overall consistency of myself.