No two writers seem to have the same path to their career, but one thing they all seem to have in common, is an unquenching desire to write, no matter what. Here’s the story of how I discovered that in me.
At 16 years old, I was sitting on an aluminium bench seat, with a couple of high school friends, overlooking the sports field. It was a warm sunny day, and I remember flicking through the liner notes of a Nine Inch Nails cassette for The Downward Spiral, (which had just been released that year) and I was in awe at the depth and beauty of Trent Reznor’s lyrics. I said to my friend, Jody, “How amazing would it be, to be able to write like Trent Reznor?”
She said, “Well, have you even tried?”
I hadn’t. I then had an epiphany of epic proportions. I went home and that night wrote my first poem. It was in an A4 Spirax spiralled notebook with a yellow cover and ruled pages and I wrote across the page for dramatic effect. My first poems were written in pencil and I wrote four more poems that night. What started as an expression of ideas, soon became an obsession.
I spent most of my classes writing about every conceivable topic I could think of, from rain to love, from alcohol to tea. A tap had been switched on, and what started as a drip, soon became a flood. It wasn’t long before school seemed like an interruption to my writing (which may explain my end of school results, with the exception of Geography).
I spent most classes writing poetry. Some of the classrooms had little balcony’s, and occaisionally a teacher would allow us to move our table and chair out onto the balcony to work. Out of the classroom, in the sunshine, overlooking Blackwattle Bay with the Sydney CBD reflected in the water, those moments were some of my fondest memories of high school, because I wrote dozens of poems.
Every writer needs a good pen, and once I’d moved beyond pencils, my pen of choice became the Pilot V-Ball 0.5 Black. I don’t think they make them anymore, but they were whispy-smooth to write with and the words flowed easily. The lid also made a satisfying click when it was snapped on. I received a box of them one year for my birthday and it was one of the most exciting gifts I’d received. So many words came from that one box. Eventually settling with a ceramic space-pen (not as smooth as the pilot pen but always works, never leaks) that was a gift for shooting a friends wedding.
For Christmas in 1995, I received a nylon-stringed Yamaha acoustic guitar, and I taught myself to play everything from U2’s With or without you to The Cure’s Lullaby; music brought my poetry to life. By now I had filled about half-a-dozen or so notebooks with poems, songs and had even started a couple of movie scripts.
At one point, I remember declaring that I was quitting writing (I have no idea why) and bundled up all my notebooks in a plastic envelope and sealed it with wax (so dramatic) and locked them away in the bottom drawer of my desk.
A couple of days, later, the desire to write was too powerful and I ripped the envelope open; writing with such fury and passion, it was near illegible.
Maybe it was getting all the teen angst out of my head, perhaps it was the process of keeping my brain busy, or maybe it was discovering my purpose, but from that moment, I knew writing was all I wanted to do, forevermore. I didn’t care if anyone read it, I didn’t care if anyone else thought it was good or not, I had much to say, and only one lifetime in which to say it.
It wasn’t till many years later, that I realised that writing (in particular poetry) releases a rush of endorphins (for me); hence my addiction to it. It’s what keeps me sane, happy and joyful in life. There have been bursts of melancholia (usually just a broken heart haha); always fixed by an intense period of writing. My closest friends now know, if ever I’m in a sour mood, to tell me, “Jade, you need to write, to get out of this funk.”
The problem with wanting a career in writing, was everyone kept telling me there’s no money to be made, you’ll always be poor, (this was before books became blockbuster movies and made millions). My other drive in life was travel.
So travel became my career; which allowed me to travel often and cheaply but I was always looking for any opportunity to include writing in any travel job I was in. I started creating newsletters and articles for the company I was working with, 2UK (which also eventuated into podcasting).
Like many writers I had started many projects, but hadn’t finished them. In 2007 I was determined to start a project and finish it and whilst walking down Blues Point Road in North Sydney, to catch the ferry back to Balmain, I had another moment of enlightenment. I would write a play. So I did. Every morning I’d get up at 5am, write for a few hours before work, every lunch-time I’d write some more and then every evening I’d type it all up. After nine months, Compass was completed.
I printed off a dozen copies and had a reading with a couple of friends on a Sunday afternoon over a barbeque. It was incredible to hear my words, being spoken and best of all, it all made sense. The script then sat, on my laptop, gathering dust.
I moved to Wellington, New Zealand at the begining of 2009 where I taught travel and tourism. On top of teaching everyday, I re-wrote textbooks including one on Australia. I tried to convince myself that I was writing about travel and therefore I had found a dream job. It wasn’t.
In early 2013, my parents house burnt down in Australia and we lost everything; clothes, furniture, photos, books and twenty years worth of notebooks of my writings. Lost forevermore. I tried visualising words, sentences, surely if I wrote them I could remember them. But it wasn’t to be.
A few weeks after the fire, I was tidying up my apartment in Island Bay (Wellington) and found a couple of my Pilot V-Ball 0.5 pens and a torn page from a hand-made notebook I had bought from markets, years ago.
I yelled out “the notebooks!” I had hand-written my favourite 100 poems into a couple of notebooks and given them to my closest friends when I was eighteen. I could have kissed my eighteen year old self. Of course, I now barely spoke to any of those friends, but I emailed them all and one friend, Emma, still had her copy, and despite moving several times, it was sitting on her bookshelf.
She posted it to me and I remember when I first touched the rough-recycled paper, saw the red star on the front of the book, it’s corrugated cardboard cover with cotton stitching. I shook with nervous excitement. As soon as I flicked through it, and saw my handwriting, my words, the smell of thick recycled paper, High School memories came flooding back. I cringed at some of the terrible poems and cried at the beautiful ones.
Regardless, it was encouraging to know not all was lost. That weekend I typed up all my poems and saved them in multiple places, including the cloud so they would never be lost again. It then prompted me to dig out my play, Compass and self-publish it. It took three months of editing and formatting and in April 2014, my play was published on iBooks, Amazon Kindle, Google Play and Kobo. It was the proudest moment of my life.
Once the excitement wore off, I started my first novel, a complicated travel-love story which is currently in the editing phase. It’s coming together, slowly and it has had many working titles, most commonly The Backwards Poem and the Thunder Storm, aka The BPATT but it’s latest working title is The Red Sands of Wildness.
Moving back to Australia in 2015, I started writing for Weekend Notes. A website about stuff to do, which has presented some wonderful opportunities including interviewing celebrities, reviewing movies and plays and honing my writing skills.
ten eleven fifteen novels, currently sitting under my ‘novels’ tag, awaiting completion, I have a lot of writing to get done in the near future. Writing articles provides a (sort of) means of income, but really my focus should be on finishing my novel, so I can enter the world of published authors, and spend my days finishing all the stories that are currently in my head.
If you would like to support an independant writer, you can:
- Read my Travel articles, or blog.
- Purchase a copy of Compass,
- Book me as a photographer
- Purchase images either as digital downloads or prints (coming soon)
- Subscribe and listen to my podcast, Travelosophy then head to the Support my Podcast page.