Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On Purpose

I know this blog has been dead for a while, but I feel now's a good time to revive it. I promise I'll do my best to keep this updated more regularly than I have been.

For those who haven't been keeping tabs on me of late, it has been a little over 12 months since I stopped seeing my psychologist. I'm now living in Brisbane, between jobs, and up until recently have had zero idea what direction my life was going to take.

For those who have followed a path similar to mine, walking away from a degree you thought was certain to give you a stable career that you enjoyed is a really big deal. When I first went to Charles Sturt University to begin my teaching degree in 2007, I thought that at the end of my four years I'd end up working as a teacher of some description, that I would continue to do until I found something related that I would then enjoy to avoid burning myself out. However, the events of 2009 left me completely burned out, with the spark of teaching thoroughly extinguished. Since then, I have been left to figure out what path I should take.

For those mature-aged students who had the drive to chug themselves back through uni to get another degree, I tip my hat to you. It takes a pretty big pair of balls to drag yourself through that.

Personally, I could not put myself back through uni in the foreseeable future. I tried doing a subject this semester, but I hit a wall after the fourth week and couldn't commit myself to it. I'm not 100% certain what's stopping me, but even working with my psychologist we couldn't break it.

Since then, I've tried to get myself back on my feet, find a stable job and get myself to the point where I can find what I'm happy doing, and then go at it like a bull in a china shop.

Enter NaNoWriMo.

For those unfamiliar with it, National Novel Writing Month is four weeks of nothing but writing badly, giggling incessantly over cups of coffee, and having a great amount of fun and frustration at trying to put 50000 words down in a coherent fashion. This year I decided to tackle it for the first time. During my teenage years I had started a number of novels covering a broad range of genres (fantasy, speculative fiction, mystery), but have always lost motivation once the story gets going. I signed up for NaNo on the premise that I would find the motivation and support to drive a novel in full. Have I been successful thus far? Not exactly. However, what I have gained from the exercise (even though I'm only 9 days into it) has been of far greater benefit to myself than anything else in my memory.

Over the years, writing has been a mainstay of my life, usually floating somewhere just beyond the edge of my periphery. Up until year 11, there were points in my life where my writing ability shone through, but it wasn't ever something I seriously considered becoming involved in. In hindsight, I have no idea why. After one auspicious creative writing task in year 11 that had my high school's English department commending me on how far my writing had come, I began to consider myself as half-decent writer. Mostly, my writing has been very narrow in scope - dark speculative fiction in first-person POV that more often than not involves less-than-sane characters and nonexistent plot lines.

Having started (and restarted) my NaNo novel, I've discovered that I find it challenging to weave plots and create scenes for extended periods of time before my imagination gets the better of me (for those who've seen me write in progress, it usually involves lots of getting up and walking around randomly like a complete wanker). However, I am more or less completely comfortable with being able to just knock back words on a page (like this very blog post!). I think...that my challenge is to find a style of writing that suits my way of thinking, and build on it to the point where I can make the most use of it. I could happily spend the rest of my days writing I think if I can manage this.

If I want to write for a career, there are a few options that I can see myself safely doing:

1. Children's Literature Teaching/Workshops/Textbook Writing

Realisticly, this would best line up with my current education. To achieve this, I would need to first become a published author and/or complete my degree (although shift my subjects to a greater emphasis on English teaching). Once I achieve that, then I can start working with kids on their writing.

Would these be immensely rewarding? Yes. Would I be happy doing it for a very long time? Absolutely. Would I be able to get into it? Maybe. For me to complete my degree, I need to overcome whatever block is preventing me from doing my studies and go whole hog at completing it (preferably whist writing alongside it). From there, I should be able to find somewhere in the field I can snuggle myself into.

2. Video Game Scriptwriting

For those that don't know, I'm a massive geek. That's all you need to know. :P

On a more serious note though, being a huge gamer this would be one field that I would be very, very interested in. I feel strongly that the gaming industry is more concerned about pushing out a compelling story in favor of pretty graphics (something that I'm sure I"ll be writing a lot more about in the future), and I know that I can write a compelling story. Considering that scriptwriting is primarily about dialogue, this is one area I have a keen interest in.

It is the getting into the industry however, that is difficult. Australia doesn't have many game developers, and the biggest ones are hotly contested. I would need to seriously work on my skills in order to get myself with a company that would take me seriously. From there, I feel I could do well if I dedicated myself completely to the craft.

3. Technical Writing

This is one that has only recently shown up on my radar, courtesy of one of the wonderful ladies that I've met NaNoing (for those who NaNo, she's one of my Municipal Liaisons). Writing documentation and the like is something I know I can develop skills in (I've done stuff related to it in other endeavours), but the biggest question hanging over it is whether I have the skills initially to get myself off the ground. I can't say my last job was exactly spectacular for giving me self-confidence in my ability to pick up skills, but I'm at least willing to give it a solid go.

This one I'll probably mull over in-depth, as I want to be sure that I'm not going to flounder like a fish in water if I do decide to go for it.

4. Full-Time Author

This would be the...stereotypical path. Could I do it? Absolutely. Contrary to what some people believe I actually have a lot to say, and I could easily fill up the next X years doing nothing but write. To get there, I would first need to write something amazing (which is easy, right? :P), find an agent/editor to tell me it's not crap, and then successfully pitch it to a publisher. There may or may not be a hell of a lot more behind it, as this is an area I only have just started to lift the lid on.

However, this path would also be challenging for me (at least initially). I'm not someone who can simply sit and write thousands of lines every day of the year - I need some time to just chill out from my thoughts sometimes. I would need to jigger my way of thinking (and writing) to make sure I could sustain what I would need to do to be successful in this area. That being said, once I start getting published there are a range of other things I could jump into, but depends on me being able to get that book published.

So, what do I do?

The honest answer - I don't know. There's a lot to mull over, and a lot of avenues to explore. However, what I do know is that for the first time in god knows how long I have some direction in where I would like to end up.

And for that, I know that I can find a sense of purpose for myself again.

Also, any comments would be greatly appreciated. I like comments <3

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Roo! Always good to have options. :D

    Can't help much with option 1, but I heard a talk on 2 recently and might have some info that would be of use to you. It's on my list of (many) blog posts I want to write soon. You know you're welcome to pick my brains about 3 anytime. ;)

    As for 4, my advice would be a) get a day job you're happy with, it might take a while, and b) don't give up! :)

    Good luck, whatever you decide!

    (uh, that livejournal is way old and unused - it was just an ID I could use to comment here!)