Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Autobiographical Musings: Ambition, the Arts and Literary Leanings.

When I started this blog it was intended to be an outlet for my thoughts and experiences relating to artistic matters, yet because of changed personal circumstances it has evolved into something entirely different

Most of my spare time over the past few years has revolved around our move from Sydney to the country and the very slow establishment of the garden. I enjoy the productive side of gardening: seeing things come to life and being able to harvest fresh food from the backyard, but I miss some of my other interests that have been put on hold and pushed aside

Some times it’s necessary to step back and take stock; to re-evaluate where I am and where I want to go.

I suppose when I moved to the country it seemed like the perfect escape from a stress and work-dominated life in Sydney. And the emphasis was on the “escape FROM” instead of an escaping TO. What would happen once we left the city and how we would create a viable lifestyle was not given enough consideration. We were caught up in the romanticism of the move, trusting in many impractical ways of supporting ourselves.

After an almost idyllic first year, reality returned and I now find myself working full time hours in yet another admin job, not too different from others I’ve done. No matter how many times I’ve tried to change direction I eventually end up back where I started.

Have you ever had those interviews and performance reviews in which you are questioned about your ambitions and where you see yourself in five years time? I always thought that my presence in those interviews was a sign of my LACK OF ambition. I wouldn’t have remained in those admin/clerical positions if I was driven by the desire to climb the corporate ladder. My sense of purpose has NEVER been connected to career and employment. Spending most of your life working in an unfulfilling job merely to support a barely existent “life-style” doesn’t seem like a very good investment of time, but what could I do about it?

Part of my most recent attempt to escape this rut has been documented on this blog, but this is not the first failed attempt.

In the early 90s I left full time employment to study at University. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Creative arts course to study creative writing.
Earlier I touched on my lack of ambition – but that lack has only related to the business world in which I’d become trapped. Looking back throughout my life I started to remember my childhood desire to be a writer and realised that writing was the only ambition I could recall having.

Throughout primary and early high school years I would write stories and especially plays. For a time I had some very encouraging and tolerant teachers who made way for my creativity, allowing performances of my plays in class. Often these little dramas would be nothing more than a rewriting of recently seen movies or TV shows, but occasionally I’d come up with an original story and have the thrill of having a work of my own imagination performed in class.

I suspect things changed when my family moved from England to a new life in Australia. I was thrown into a very different educational system with very different people. With all of that came a loss of confidence as I tried to adjust to so many new things at the same time as I was entering puberty. My creative output became limited to set school assignments and writing for pleasure became a rare activity.

Fast forward 10 years.
In my mid twenties I decided to put pen to paper again. I started writing a mixture of articles and stories and submitted several to magazines and newspapers. While nothing was accepted I received enough positive feedback to keep me going. I also attended a couple of writing courses held by local colleges. Eventually all of this led to the gamble I took when I gave up my job of ten years to enter the academic world.

Within the first weeks of the course I changed my focus from Creative Arts to a normal Arts degree, majoring in English Literature. I was still able to do all of the writing subjects I wanted, but was no longer under any obligation to include art subjects that didn’t seem relevant. In their place I had more opportunity to study the literary topics that took my interest.

After three years I graduated with very pleasing results and I spent a year applying for work in fields that would utilise my writing skills – with no success.
One employer replied to my application with the suggestion that I seek employment in heavy industry and manufacturing because that was more suited to my previous work experience.

Again my writing started to take a back seat – or more accurately it was banished to another vehicle entirely, until I discovered the internet world of the forum and the blog. And perhaps that brings me back to the present.

My writing in its current stage has been focused on two main areas of interest divided between two blogs. This blog in recent years has been mostly about my garden and the move to the country. The other blog “The Onesimus Files” has been an outlet for thoughts on theological topics.

I am now considering a third blog that may put me back on the literary path. The seed of this idea perhaps started to germinate when I came across the website of one of my former lecturers. He is now a successful full time author and his site contains interesting and useful information and links that have helped to rekindle my desire to explore some literary possibilities.

I will probably stick with “blogger”. It is a familiar format and I don’t have the time or the will to play around with something else. I can also keep all of my blogs connected and easily accessible by sticking with what I know.

After making this decision I have already run into the first obstacle – what do I call it? Coming up with suitable names is not something I find easy – as can be seen from the name I gave THIS blog.

The first two names that I came up with have already been taken – either the world is far smaller than I realised, or my talent for original thought is severely lacking. Clearly that is not a good omen at the start of a new creative journey…


Jamie said...


Always read your blog, and good on you.

As a professional writer one thing I can say is that blogging is freedom. In my blog I don't have to care about a target audience, popularity, readership, sales, or anything else. I'm free to write what I like. And that's the beauty of blogging. You're free, if you want to be free. As soon as you want to be popular, or have an audience, you lose a bit of your freedom.

However, one practical tip if you're interested in being published in something as low-brow as a magazine: magazines are a visual medium. So, if you can supply good photos, your story is immensely more appealing to editors, who spend hours trying to find good photos to illustrate stories. All writing can be massaged and edited into good shape, but photos are harder to fix, or to find. So think about the visual images which might accompany your magazine writings and the marketability of your contributions will be improved. Magazine editors are often lazy buggers, and if they get an article landing on their desk with great writing and beaut photos they'll often say 'beauty'.

Sorry, I don't have any suggestions re a blog name, though. I've never like my blog name – it was just a spur of the moment mistake from a blogging newbie – and I often think of starting up a new one with a better name. So all I can suggest is don't rush into a new blog until you really like the new name!

All the best - Jamie.

Onesimus said...

Thanks for the encouragement and advice Jamie.

Many years ago (pre-digital cameras) I did an interview with the singer of a band and submitted it to a suitable publication with the offer of photographs. Although I was very pleased with the photo quality, the publication thought they would not scan well enough for their paper and therefore could not use them.

That was the one and only time that I had the thought of submitting photos along with an article; in those days the available technology didn’t make such a thing practical for an amateur photographer like me. Photography cost a lot and you had to wait too long to see the results. The situation today is far different with the introduction of digital photography: even so I’m not sure that I would have thought of offering photos with an article, so I appreciate the tip.

As for the blog name I’m going with one of my original choices even though someone else has used it. The other person has done nothing with his blog apart from create it almost 5 years ago.

The title I am going with is “Out of Shadows”. A link is available via my profile, but at the moment I’m still playing around with ideas for the first post. I’ve written a brief intro but I’ll probably delete that when it can be replaced by something more appropriate.