Tell it Anyhow
I always dreamed of being a writer.
When I discovered Enid Blyton’s, The Enchanted Wood, as a very young girl, I was immediately hooked and began to eagerly devour every EB book I could get my hands on. As Enid’s magical tales and stories quickly faded into the background for most children upon reaching early adolescence, I couldn’t let go. Instead, those “beastly” girls of Malory Towers, with their midnight feasts and robust lacrosse matches, accompanied me into my early teens. As if this wasn’t tragic enough, I kicked off my official entry into adulthood with an Enid-Blyton-themed 21st birthday. Thankfully, everyone indulged me by dressing up, and my boyfriend’s Williamstown backyard was transformed into a magical, if somewhat frightening, spectacle; a colourful array of pixies, Moonface’s and Noddy’s.
I was around eleven when I made my first attempt at writing my own book, using orange cardboard for the cover, a few too many staples and carefully ruler-lined pages. Heavily inspired by The Famous Five, “Bath Murder” told the story of three girl detectives who solve a case that the dim-witted police are incapable of figuring out, and it was pretty terrible, even for an eleven-year-old.
But I loved writing and was convinced that this was the path my career would take once I was done with school. However, along the way I got distracted, as often happens, and as my passion for acting caught up with my passion for words, I turned my attention towards performing in theatre productions, some of which I had written, as well as TV shows. I spent five years performing and writing on sketch comedy shows for various TV networks, and shared the screen with some of Australia’s finest actors on stellar programs like The Beautiful Lie and Tangle. I loved performing and writing dialogue, and enthusiastically embraced scriptwriting with every fibre of my being.
A few years later, during an out-of-work patch, someone suggested that I enrol in the Professional Writing and Editing course at RMIT in Melbourne. I did and my passion for prose was reignited. However, it would be a long time before I’d walk into a bookshop and see my name amongst so many others on the shelves, but when it did, it was magical. A moment worthy of story by Enid herself. I love the diversity that goes hand in hand with acting and scriptwriting in what can be an unforgiving and altogether crazy industry, but finally adding “Author” to my resume was a dream come true.
My career has been riddled with “waiting”. (I put quotation marks around that word because when you work in the arts, waiting often means working extremely hard on a variety of deeply satisfying projects that deliver no financial or professional reward whatsoever) However, the past few years have proved to be a very different beast, and I feel as if the myriad projects I’ve worked on, and all the varied skills I’ve deliberately and inadvertently developed over the years, are suddenly being employed at once.
My biggest personal revelation over this time has been that the advice I’ve been given for so long – that you should focus on one form of writing and one only – is not only not good advice; it’s just not true.
I’ve gone back and forth between many different forms of writing in my career and, in the process, have learnt truckloads from each one. I also find myself frequently applying skills from one form to another as I dip in and out of the various writing projects I have on the go at any one time. It’s a constant juggle, but juggling is a simple combination of difficulty and fun. As anyone who knows me will gladly tell you, I’m as persistent as I am stubborn, and that seems to have served me well.
All in all, my career crossovers haven’t been too giant a leap because ultimately, everything I do is some form of storytelling. And stories can be told a thousand different ways.
That’s why my advice to anyone wanting to be writer would be to not just scratch the surface. Go get a jackhammer and do some serious excavation.
- Fiona is the author of over eighteen kids and adult books and provides services for book coaching, content strategy, career development coaching, ghostwriting and more. More information here: https://www.fionaharris.com
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