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Nov 08

What Can I Write?

Maybe dressing like this would improve my writing mojo...Kylie Ladd’s recent post at Mama Mia about feeling like she disappeared after her children were born got me thinking about the way I view myself. For me, it wasn’t a case of losing myself once I had children. Even before children came along, I had trouble finding direction and a well-defined sense of purpose. There has always been a rather vague nagging sense that I have been simply marking time rather than fulfilling my potential.

I’ve started a university Arts degree several times, only to postpone studies time after time due to family commitments. I even joined Mensa in an attempt to prove to myself that my brain still worked, even if I didn’t feel like I was using it all that often. Aside from the initial thrill of actually qualifying for membership, all that really got me was the opportunity to buy Meredith at Oh, The Thinks you Can Think a Mensa coffee mug, which she promptly defaced with Shrek stickers. Some people have no sense of respect.

When I started writing, I finally found something about which I was passionate and that I enjoyed. I’ve loved writing as the World Literature Feature Writer for Suite101 and everything that has taught me about writing for the web. I love having books to review and have really enjoyed the opportunity to promote some awesome authors. I’ve also enjoyed blogging and sharing some more personal thoughts and observations.

I felt exceptionally blessed this year when my writing at Suite101 and here at Reading Upside Down led me into a partnership with Sydney author and artist Ursula Kolbe to co-author a book about children’s creativity. Writing this book has really confirmed for me that this is what I want to do. I want to be a writer.

Finally, I have a clear sense of what I want to do, but I’m left with a rather vague sense of the details. If the advice ‘Write what you know’ holds true, what am I actually qualified to write about? I can’t write fiction (trust me, I’ve tried and it wasn’t pretty) and my lack of professional qualifications seems to narrow my writing opportunities somewhat. No university degree, no trade qualifications, no extensive on-the-job experience.

I am, as I’ve mentioned before, a bit of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. I’m a wife and mother of three primary school-aged children, an eclectic and enthusiastic reader, a lapsed Mensan, a passionate advocate of children’s reading and creativity, a maths geek, a board game junkie, a fashion tragic, a chocoholic and tea addict, an ex-medical typist, a Christian, a lover of gadgets and an adamant believer in the power of encouragement. I can research a topic to death and love to play with words.

I’m not sure what all the above qualifies me to write about. What do you think? I’m open to suggestions.

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9 comments

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  1. Juliet Schaffer

    If it is any consolation finishing a degree hasn’t provided me with any greater sense of entitlement when it comes to writing. I finished an Honours degree in Professional Writing and a month later gave birth to my first child. I have the pretty qualification but not the dirty experience. I’m now torn between trying to get on with the quals I have or getting even more quals.
    But aren’t you already doing ‘it’? Your Suite 101 work, your co-authorship and your blog are all examples of your excellent ability to write and analyse.
    Perhaps accepting the eclecticism is the way to go – at least you’ll never be bored.
    Love your blog and keep enjoying it.
    .-= Juliet Schaffer´s last blog ..Elegant sufficiency =-.

    1. Susan

      Thanks for your comments and encouragement, Juliet. I guess I’m wishing that ‘proper’ writing job would come along. Something regular and permanent that my husband might actually consider a ‘real job’ (ie something that earns money). Suite is great and provides some pocket money, but it would be great to have regular paid writing work.

      I guess I’m not looking for qualifications as a writer, but rather an element of expertise in my own knowledge that I could use to promote myself. “Hi. I’m Susan, I know all about (supply subject here) and you should hire me to write for you”. If only it were that easy. 🙂

  2. Katrina Germein

    If I was you I’d write about being a ‘a chocoholic and tea addict’ – just think of the research. Seriously, just trust your creativity that the answer will come and then it will. Works for me anyway.
    .-= Katrina Germein´s last blog ..Illustrator Envy =-.

    1. Susan

      If only I could find someone to sponsor (ie pay) me to write about chocolate and tea, I’d be there with bells on.

      Anyone? Anyone?

      While we’re at it, I’m also open to the possibility of being paid to write about kitchen and general electrical appliances, home furnishings, garden and home renovations, alcohol, exotic holiday destinations, jetsetting in Europe and beauty treatments. (Can’t blame a girl for trying 🙂 )

  3. Juliet Schaffer

    Ah yes the ‘goldie’ – what my husband considers work.
    Difficult to explain that being on the computer, the internet and Twitter IS actually work (or a money earner of some description) for some people.
    That’s the problem with writing – from the outside it just looks like someone sitting on their butt not doing much. But on the inside – furious working going on!
    A ‘proper’ job would be nice – but would you like to be told what to write? Well… actually… sometimes I would.
    Perhaps there needs to be a coffee-table book on chocolate, and one on tea etc etc…
    .-= Juliet Schaffer´s last blog ..Elegant sufficiency =-.

    1. Susan

      Exactly. I love the Burton Rascoe quote: “What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.”

  4. Rachel

    Judith,

    I have two degrees and a third on the way and honestly, they don’t mean all that much. Sure I am proud of my achievement but when it comes to employment, they don’t seem worth the paper they are written on. I can’t get a job in my field, having a degree (although needed) does not help in the sense you think it would.

    As for writing, I don’t think a degree is necessary but do one anyway! 🙂 Do one because I think if you studied world literature or writing you would just love it! and that is what is important.. your own sense of achievement and doing something you love.

    Why don’t you write a book about books? A compendium on world literature? or why not an analysis of all the great works of one of your favourite authors? That would take a lot of writing, research, reading etc. but it would be fun!

    I am not sure how you would go about getting published.. if you find out, blog about it because I would love to write and publish a book one day too. That is my dream job! 🙂

    I just started writing for Suite 101. I am hoping it will give me a little extra cash (not expecting much) and open up some more doors employment wise. I did stumble across the world lit page and saw your picture/name. I had this moment of confusion.. “do I know that person”? ahahaha took me a while to realise it was a fellow book blogger!
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Suite 101 =-.

  5. life in a pink fibro

    There’s no such thing as paid, regular gigs in freelance writing. Not really. You just lurch from one job to another and hope that something comes up. I’d suggest you get some story ideas together – creativity in kids sounds like an awesome starting place – and submit them to relevant publications (Sydney’s Child, Practical Parenting etc come to mind). Or what about a piece on the best ‘book and review’ blogs for one of the newspapers? Think laterally. You know heaps of stuff. Personally, I love the idea of being a lapsed member of Mensa – there’s definitely a piece in that!
    .-= life in a pink fibro´s last blog ..An arresting experience =-.

    1. Susan

      I think my frustration comes from feeling like I’m lurching in 10 different directions at once (or quite possibly 100 different directions). I’ve made the decision overnight to withdraw from my uni studies and I think that this will give me the mental space that I need to be a little bit more focused and less fragmented. That’s the plan, anyway.

      I’ll have to write a blog post about my experiences as a Mensan, lapsed and otherwise. I’ll send you a link. 🙂

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