A big moment for me…Posted: August 21, 2013
Many years ago, I did professional writing at university. I landed there because in year twelve I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, and a very lazy career adviser said, “Well, what classes do you enjoy?” and I said, “Um, English?”
I also enjoyed computing, so if the career adviser had asked a slightly different question or if I’d mentioned the other class first I might be a highly paid IT nerd right now. I’d still be writing, regardless, but maybe not quite as well. (Much love to any IT nerds reading this. My boyfriend is one; I mean no disrespect.)
As it was, I got a degree that was broadly applicable to every job I had — I draft a mean minute — but only became specifically applicable in the last five years when I landed my precious editing job, and started writing again.
The head of the course — let’s call her Janey — was a huge fan of literary, feminist fiction. Genre fiction fans like me didn’t get a lot of credit from her, and the male genre fiction fans in the class got even less. She also believed in what she probably would’ve called tough love, but what I secretly believed was her way of trying to scare us all into not bothering to write so that she had a better shot at getting her own Great Australian Novel published.
I remember one lecture where Janey was talking about the Australian publishing industry. She told us there were maybe half a dozen Australian fiction writers who could make a living off their work, that they all wrote literary or mainstream commercial fiction (ie they were Bryce Courtenay), and that we should all give up any hope of ever being successful enough to pay a mortgage.
Especially us genre fiction writers.
(Note: Her advice is both good and very crappy. Kids, don’t give up your day job to write unless you are independently wealthy or you’re already earning enough from your existing royalties to pay the bills and save for your superannuation. But don’t believe it’s not possible to achieve the latter with a lot of hard work and persistence, either.)
Anyway, a few years later I discovered Kate Forsyth.
Kate is a Sydney writer. She writes speculative fiction. She is very good at her job, and she makes a living from it. When I read her high fantasy series The Witches of Eileanan, I loved the story — but who Kate was and what she was doing was, simply put, a revelation.
And yesterday I got to interview her over at Aussie Owned and Read.
Take that, Janey.