My mid-life crisis came much earlier than expected. On the surface I was successful: happy home life, loving partner, a solid career after ten years of square pegs, hurdles and burning candles. I was on the fast track to a meltdown. In the midst of a traumatic few months I sat alone in a hotel room and reassessed my life.
Two years of hard saving later, I gave the brick institution that housed my past ambitions the finger and embarked on a new career.
Those hallowed halls (these days plasterboard and commercial carpeting) were no preparation for the pacing and drama of fiction writing. I could string a decent sentence, even cobble the odd brilliant paragraph, but when it came to intriguing the reader I was stumped. For years I had honed the skill of academic argument, make a claim and then produce the evidence to support it. Essentially, this requires the writer to give away the ending. Great for academic argument. Death for the mystery writer.
Within months of embarking on my new career I learned the first lesson of writing – Don’t give up your day job. (Doubly hard to take when that day job had been tenured). Blind optimism caused me to enter the very first short story I wrote into an Australasian-wide competition. That story was Highly Commended. I thought, Wow this gig is easy. Not so. The next few stories got nowhere. Doubt set in with every silent response.
It wasn’t long after that I learned lesson number two – love rejection. I read somewhere that if you’re not getting rejected you’re not working hard enough. After all, you don’t know if you don’t try, right? I mean, Animal Farm, Anne Frank and Harry Potter were rejected numerous times before someone saw their potential. Now I think of rejection as a Pass, much kinder to the flagging ego.
The third rule had been knocking around for a while before I recognized it. In the face of adversity, persevere. Believe Elizabeth George when she says talent and passion aren’t enough, perseverance is essential.
These days my motto is Success equals Perseverance and Blind Optimism. It’s beginning to pay off …
My first novel, Out of the Abyss, was a semi-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
My short stories have been published in the Award Winning Australian Writing Anthology 2011 (forthcoming) and Signatures, Journal of the Wyong Writers.
Other short stories have been shortlisted by the Federation of Australian Writers (Wyong Writers, Eastwood Hills) and the One Book One Burnside competitions, and commended by the Federation of Australian Writers Queensland ‘Lovers of Good Writing’ competition.