2016 In Review: Part One (Writing and Reading)

Well… I’ve done it again.

I’ve let my poor, long-suffering blog sit gathering dust and cobwebs – this time, for almost an entire year.

I’m pretty disappointed in myself for taking such a long hiatus. But hey – it’s the first week of 2017 now, and I’m ready to forgive myself and start fresh!

To kick things back off, I’m doing a round-up of 2016 in two parts: Writing and Reading, and Life, Health and Happiness. I’m starting with the straight-up stuff here, all about the things I wrote and read in 2016, and in a few days, I’ll follow up with a bit more of a personal post about what’s been going on with me.

Then, I’ll be aiming to post at least monthly, recapping what’s been going on in my bookish and writerly life throughout the year. This was my intention last year as well, but come March, my life had gotten so hectic that I just couldn’t commit to one more thing… So off the blogging bandwagon I fell once again. But anyway, more about that in Part Two.

For now, let’s get stuck into the fun stuff… Writing and reading!

Image via freestocks.orgImage via freestocks.org

Writing

2016 was a bit of a mixed year for me when it came to writing, mainly because I don’t really feel like I did very much of it. I mean, sure, I wrote thousands upon thousands of words for work, but creatively? Not so much. But it wasn’t all bad, and besides, looking back on things now makes me even more determined to write loads more in 2017.

Here’s a round-up of writing bits and pieces from 2016:

My novel

Ahh, yes… The fantasy novel. That thing I started back in November 2015 and still haven’t finished. About that…

Well, after vowing to get back to writing my draft in early 2016, I embarked upon a self-imposed ‘NaNoWriMarch’ with the lovely Helen. But while Helen blazed ahead like the writing Wonderwoman she is, I only managed a mere 7,000 words before my NaNoWriMarch reverted back into plain old Regular March.

This wasn’t for lack of trying, though. Truth was, I’d simply taken on too much at this point in time (notice how March was also when my blog dropped off the face of the earth again?). I was working three part-time jobs, completing two internships, and trying to keep up with life and writing on top of all that.

Needless to say, something had to give before I burned out completely. And that something, sadly, was my little novel.

But all isn’t lost! I haven’t given up. The dream is still there, and later last year, I started making concerted efforts to rekindle it again.

I asked Nate to get me Scrivener for my birthday. I started reading research books about perfumery. I did yet more plotting and planning. I even actually wrote a few snippets in some of our Writer’s Edit Twitter word sprints (which will be starting back up sometime this year – keep an eye out and join us!).

To be honest, I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. I feel like there’s still SO much I need to work out about the characters and the story and the concepts before I can dive properly back into writing.

But this year, I’m determined to finally finish my draft. I want to be able to give it to my favourite writerly ladies, the amazing Helen and Kyra, so they can help me fix what will undoubtedly be a bit of a hot mess. I want to create intriguing characters and make magic and tell a good story and build a world all of my own.

In short, I want 2017 to be the year I really live up to the title of ‘writer’.

I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

paperback-bird-2Image via Unsplash

Newcastle Short Story Award

In my last (very long-ago) post, I mentioned that I’d submitted an eleventh-hour entry to the Newcastle Short Story Award. Well, it turned out that I was lucky enough to be shortlisted, and my story, ‘The Land of Always Living’, was published in the 2016 anthology!

This was super exciting for me – I’d never been shortlisted for an award like this before. So needless to say, I was stoked to be able to attend the awards ceremony, drink a celebratory glass of bubbles with my lovely friend Mat, and see my little story in print.

I’m in wonderful company in this anthology. I was so inspired reading all the amazing stories from the winners and other shortlisted entrants. I’ll definitely be flicking through it again for inspiration and motivation as I prepare my entry for the 2017 competition!

newcastle-short-story-award

Writer’s Edit

I wrote a bunch of articles for Writer’s Edit last year, and loved every minute of it. I learn so much myself every time I sit down to research these writing advice pieces. It’s my absolute favourite sort of article to write, and I love the feeling that I’m contributing in some small way to the amazing collection of resources for writers we have over at Writer’s Edit.

Here’s a round-up of everything I’ve put together for W.E. since my last blog post here in February:

There’ll be plenty more where those came from in 2017!

paperback-bird-3Image via Pixabay

Reading

2016 was a good reading year for me. I read 62 books in total, 22 more than my original goal of 40 and almost double my 2015 total of 35. This was largely due to the five hours I spent on the train every Wednesday while I was an intern at the NSW Writers’ Centre, which helped me knock over more than a book a week!

In my reading wrap-up for 2015, I mentioned that I wanted to read more non-fiction. Well, after spending 2016 thinking I’d been reading loads more non-fiction books than usual, it turned out that I had read… less than ten. Awkward. But in my defence, there’s just SO MUCH amazing fiction out there, and there’s nothing like finding an incredible new series to lose yourself in (which I did many a time last year!).

Anyway, I want to try again this year and really give non-fiction a proper go. So I’ve decided to aim for, at the very least, 15 non-fiction titles, making up a quarter of my total reading goal of 60 books. (To this end, I’ve gone on an over-enthusiastic reserving spree at the library and put a stack of non-fiction books on hold all at once. Wish me luck when they’re all due at the same time and I have like three weeks to read every single one.)

I also said I’d make an effort to read more Australian authors in 2016, which I did: 17 Aussie-authored books compared with a mere four in 2015. I’d like to up this again in 2017, if possible.

Finally, while we’re talking stats, just out of interest, check out the girl power in my 2016 author breakdown below. Ladies be writing some AMAZING stuff, especially in my beloved fantasy genre.

Anyway, here’s a round-up of everything I read in 2016:

Fiction

  • Half a King – Joe Abercrombie
  • Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
  • Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
  • Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake
  • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  • The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury
  • People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks
  • Truthwitch – Susan Dennard
  • The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

crows-kingdom

  • Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton
  • The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
  • In the Quiet – Eliza Henry-Jones
  • The Fate of the Tearling – Erika Johansen
  • Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • The Eye of the Sheep – Sofie Laguna
  • A Man Made Entirely of Bats – Patrick Lenton
  • Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas
  • Heir of Fire – Sarah J. Maas
  • Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas
  • Empire of Storms – Sarah J. Maas
  • The Assassin’s Blade – Sarah J. Maas
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas
  • A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas

acotar-acomaf

  • Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta
  • Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil – Melina Marchetta
  • Nutshell – Ian McEwan
  • Newcastle Short Story Award Anthology 2016
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Iain Reid
  • The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Patrick Rothfuss
  • Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling (reread, Jim Kay illustrated edition)
  • Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling (reread, Jim Kay illustrated edition)
  • The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski
  • The Winner’s Crime – Marie Rutkoski
  • The Winner’s Kiss – Marie Rutkoski

winners-trilogy

  • A Darker Shade of Magic – V. E. Schwab
  • A Gathering of Shadows – V. E. Schwab
  • This Savage Song – V. E. Schwab
  • Vicious – V. E. Schwab
  • Try Not to Breathe – Holly Seddon
  • The Paper House – Anna Spargo-Ryan
  • An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  • The Secret History – Donna Tartt

darker-shades-series

  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
  • Days of Blood and Starlight – Laini Taylor
  • Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
  • Welcome to Orphancorp – Marlee Jane Ward
  • And I Darken – Kiersten White
  • The Natural Way of Things – Charlotte Wood
  • All the Birds, Singing – Evie Wyld

daughter-of-smoke-and-bone-series

Non-fiction

  • The Diary of a Nose – Jean-Claude Ellena
  • Fight Like a Girl – Clementine Ford
  • Joe Cinque’s Consolation – Helen Garner
  • This House of Grief – Helen Garner
  • Givaudan: An Odyssey of Flavours and Fragrances – Annick Le Guérer
  • A Murder Without Motive: The Killing of Rebecca Ryle – Martin McKenzie-Murray
  • Alex & Me – Irene M. Pepperberg

helen-garner

Author breakdown

  • Books by female authors: 47
  • Books by male authors: 15
  • Books by Australian authors: 17

Genre breakdown

  • Fantasy/speculative fiction: 39
  • Literary/general fiction: 14
  • Short story collections: 2
  • Non-fiction: 7

***

Well, that concludes Part One of my 2016 round-up. Part Two: Life, Health and Happiness is forthcoming, so put the kettle on… I’ll be back soon (and I mean it this time!).

:)

paperback-birdImage via Unsplash
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Internships, Podcasts and a Shiny New Website

I’m just going to throw it right out there and say that I can’t think of an interesting intro to this month’s update. So, continuing the trend from my last monthly update, here’s a Harry Potter-related picture of the most recent global holiday/occasion.

Valentine's DayHappy Valentine’s <3 Gilderoy. Image via Pottermore.

So festive. Anyway, here’s what’s been happening for me throughout January and the first half of February.

What I’m doing

Freelancing

In all the excitement of putting together a 2015 reading recap in my last post, I forgot to announce that I finally have my very own professional website! Yay! You can find it at www.clairebradshaw.com.au.

It’s full of info about the freelance writing and editing services I offer, as well as the work I’m currently doing and have done in the past. There’s also a link to a little portfolio of my writing, and a handy contact form you can use if you want to work with me. :)

Website

(Side note: I also got some very cute business cards in January. I feel like such a fancy business lady.)

Internships

Ahh, that word: ‘internship’. It comes with all sorts of confusing connotations, especially when you’ve got a head full of worries about making/saving money and being a Real Adult With A Proper Career.

It’s been almost a year since I was flung into the wide open world on my own, and in that time I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that I want to – and can, and should – call myself a writer. I’ve learned that working with words is truly what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve learned that I have the most wonderful, supportive partner in the world, who’ll encourage me when I’m floundering, and who’ll stick by me even when I’m earning next to nothing.

And I’ve learned that if an opportunity through which you’ll gain valuable experience presents itself, you should be brave and consider it – even if it means going out of your way, or making no money from it.

Late last year, two such opportunities did present themselves, in the form of two different internships. I dove right in without a second thought. It couldn’t hurt to apply, I thought; if I never heard back it was no big deal, and if I did – well, I’d work that out when I came to it.

As it turned out, it did come to it, because I was offered both internship positions. After some consideration, I accepted both of them… And so far, I’m really glad I did.

NSW Writers’ Centre

Until the end of June, I’m a one-day-a-week intern at the wonderful New South Wales Writers’ Centre, which offers an amazing range of courses, resources and services to NSW writers.

I’ve been there for almost a month now, and I’ve completely fallen in love with the place. It’s such an amazing atmosphere to work in. I’m surrounded by lovely people who are as passionate about writing and publishing as I am, all within a vibrant hub brimming with opportunities for emerging professionals and creatives. Working there makes me feel like a real part of the Australian writing community, and it’s a very nice feeling indeed.

There is a slight downside to this internship, though, in that the Writers’ Centre is in Lilyfield, Sydney… and I’m in Newcastle, about 170 kilometres away. This means I’m up at 4:30 every Wednesday morning, jumping on a train at 5:30 and arriving in Sydney by 8:00, then catching a bus that just makes it to the Centre before 9:00… And doing it all again come the end of the day.

I stagger in the door around 8:30–9:00 every Wednesday night, my appreciation for Nate reaching an all-time high every time as he welcomes me with a home-cooked dinner and a glass of wine. (Told you he was amazing.) But despite the vague feeling of dread that accompanies setting my alarm on Tuesday nights, despite the long, long days and the travel-weary state I’m in at the end of them, I’ve enjoyed every day I’ve worked at the Centre so far.

It also helps that it’s situated in a lovely historic building in the beautiful, jacaranda-shaded grounds of Callan Park. Nothing like blooms and a breeze to foster creativity…

NSWWCImage via NSWWC.

white magazine

My second internship takes place every Friday at the lovely white magazine. Apart from the fact that it’s an amazingly beautiful publication, perhaps the best thing about white for me is that it’s local – the office is smack in the middle of Newcastle! It’s an absolute dream to have a (now worldwide) publication based so close to home, let alone to be able to work with them myself.

To call white a wedding magazine would be to do it a disservice, because it’s much more than that. Unlike many other bridal magazines, white focuses not only on the big day, but all the days that come after it. The mag and its online component are full of all the usual beautiful real wedding galleries and styled shoots, but white also makes a point of delving into the love story behind each couple they feature. It makes for really beautiful, meaningful, moving reading alongside all the gorgeous imagery.

As the mag’s mission statement itself says:

We are a catalyst for positive change in the culture of marriage and relationships… We bring together stories of love and life – personal narratives of laughter, romance, oftentimes tragedy, but always hope. We hold marriage up to the light, and use our pages to venture into honest, clever and meaningful conversations about all the unglamorous parts of marital (mis)adventure.”

I’m loving the people and the work at white so far, and I’m looking forward to getting as involved as I can with the upcoming production of their next issue.

White MagazineImage via white mag.

What I’m writing

Writer’s Edit

My latest article for Writer’s Edit, 9 Simple Ways to Sharpen Your Manuscript, pretty much does what it says on the label.  If you’ve finished your manuscript, firstly, I bow down to you, because since NaNoWriMo I’ve added a total of 700 words to mine (BLAH); and secondly… I hate to tell you, but the work’s not over yet.

There’s more to be done before you think about sending out your book, even if you’ve perfected the plot and tidied the writing (and bewitched the mind and ensnared the senses…). I’ve done a stack of research and put together a checklist of nine little things you can do to make your manuscript at least 900 times better.

(While you’re over at Writer’s Edit, have a think about submitting to our third and final Kindling anthology, Kindling Volume III! We’re looking for short fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and writing advice, and submissions are open ’til March 1st, so get on it.)

Writer's EditImage via Writer’s Edit.

Fiction

I recently spent a lovely Sunday writing all day to finish an entry for the Newcastle Short Story Award. One of my writing goals for this year is to try to get more work out there, whether by submitting to publications or entering competitions (or both). Run by my local Hunter Writers’ Centre, the Newcastle Short Story Award seemed the perfect choice for my first submission of the year.

I’m not sure if my piece will do well (that’s what you get for leaving things to the last minute), but I’m really pleased to have entered, and to be honest, writing the story was a joy.

On the topic of fiction… Remember how I mentioned above that I’ve done basically nothing on my fantasy WIP since NaNoWriMo concluded? Well, I thought it was high time I kicked myself back into gear and really got back into this project.

To that end, the lovely Helen Scheuerer and I have agreed to do a self-imposed NaNoWriMo next month! We’ve dubbed it NaNoWriMarch, and we’re both spending the rest of February plotting and planning and preparing. I’m hoping to go into this one feeling a LOT more ready than I did before November’s NaNoWriMo – stay tuned to see how that goes…

To doThe poor To Do list is getting a workout as March approaches… Image via Kaboompics.

What I’m reading/listening to

Books

I recently signed up to Goodreads, where I’ll be tracking all the books I read this year.

So far this year, I’ve read six books:

  • The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Patrick Rothfuss’ and Sarah J. Maas’ books have had me fangirling pretty hard. I love fantasy fiction SO much. Burial Rites was great too, my first Australian read of the year; and I read The Girl on the Train in a single day, over two train trips, so that was pretty cool. (Another good thing about my NSWWC internship: five hours of uninterrupted reading time on the train every week.)

At the moment I have multiple books on the go, which is something I rarely do, but THERE’S JUST SO MUCH TO READ AND I WANT IT ALL. I’ve set myself a modest 40 books in the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, but my ‘Want to Read’ list long surpasses that…

Goodreads

Podcasts

How did it take me so long to get into podcasts?!

Nate’s been a fan of them for a long time, but since he mainly listens to sports podcasts, I automatically dismissed them as boring and irrelevant to me. It wasn’t until he showed me the non-sports program he listens to that I became interested, then completely hooked.

The most wondrous thing about podcasts is that they make boring activities WAY less boring! Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, driving 40 minutes to my parents’ house – these are all humdrum activities that I now actually look forward to, because I can listen to podcasts while I do them. (‘Looking forward’ to cleaning the house might be an overstatement, but you get what I mean.)

The coveted title of Claire’s Favourite Podcast has to be split between two shows: Stuff You Should Know, from HowStuffWorks.com, and So You Want To Be A Writer, from the Australian Writers’ Centre.

SYSK is amazing. The hosts, Chuck and Josh, are so easy to listen to – they’re funny and genuine and a little bit daggy, which I love. They cover this ridiculously wide range of topics, from the broad to the obscure, and the way they deliver the show makes for interesting listening, even on the most dull-sounding subjects.

One of the best things about SYSK is their regular scheduling: you know you’ll get a new episode every Wednesday and Friday (Australian time). I’m particularly grateful for the Wednesday eps – they really brighten up the last leg of my long morning commute! Plus, Nate and I listen to episodes together when we can, whenever we have a long drive or want to drift off to sleep listening to something. It’s great.

So You Want To Be A Writer is equally wonderful. Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait are two go-getting Australian writing ladies who I really admire, and the amount of advice, insight and industry info their podcast offers is incredible. Every week they cover news, trending topics and writing tips, as well as conducting an interview with a successful writer.

Just listening to this podcast makes me feel more like a ‘real writer’, and I feel myself learning and absorbing and growing more passionate with every episode. I especially love hearing about established writers’ routines and experiences, both via the interviews and from Allison and Valerie themselves. And, of course, the plethora of writing tips and advice is truly invaluable!

An honourable mention must go to another podcast I subscribe to: Serial, from This American Life. The first season, which covers the infamous Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee murder case, was such addictive listening that I smashed out the second half all in one day.

The current season isn’t quite as mysterious and gripping – it tells the story of Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army soldier who walked off his base and was held captive for five years by the Taliban – but I still find myself fascinated by it. Military stories definitely aren’t one of my foremost points of interest, but the way this story is delivered has me really invested, always curious about what the next episode will bring.

Podcasts

***

Well, this was a way longer post than I originally anticipated! It’s made me realise that I do have a lot going on at the moment, but also that that’s exactly the way I like it.

Hopefully next month’s update will be centred around the amazing leaps and bounds of progress I’ve made with my book… ‘Hopefully’ is definitely the operative word there. But at the moment I’m feeling motivated and optimistic, and that alone makes me really happy.

What I Read Last Year & What I’ll Read This Year

I would begin this post with ‘Happy New Year’, but:

  1. It’s been 2016 for almost two weeks, and
  2. David Bowie died today, so ‘happy’ isn’t the right word at the moment. :( Rest in peace, Starman.

David Bowie

Ziggy himself would know best that the show must go on, though, so let’s continue with today’s scheduled programming.

As with most of my posts here, this is slightly late, but I wanted to take a look back at all the books I read in 2015. My total count was 33 – a little less than I’d hoped, but hey, that’s what 2016 reading resolutions are for, right?!

So here’s my list (organised alphabetically by author, of course).

Books read in 2015

  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  • Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood
  • Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  • The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
  • MaddAddam – Margaret Atwood

MaddAddam

  • Sunset Park – Paul Auster
  • A Fall of Moondust – Arthur C. Clarke
  • Room – Emma Donoghue
  • Pieces of Sky – Trinity Doyle
  • Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith

Pieces of Sky

  • Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  • Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
  • The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
  • The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen
  • The Invasion of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

Queen of the Tearling

  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • Into the Wild – Jon Krakaeur
  • Into Thin Air – Jon Krakaeur
  • Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
  • The Children Act – Ian McEwan

On Writing

  • The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman – Haruki Murakami
  • South of the Border, West of the Sun – Haruki Murakami
  • Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami
  • Underground – Haruki Murakami

Blind Willow Sleeping Woman

  • Rowan of Rin – Emily Rodda
  • Rowan and the Travellers – Emily Rodda
  • Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal – Emily Rodda
  • The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
  • Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Name of the Wind

Kindling

***

Here’s some stats about my list…

Female authors: 15 (Robert Galbraith, of course, counts as a woman!)
Male authors: 16

Fiction (total): 27
Non-fiction: 4
Mixed anthology: 2

Speculative fiction: 13
‘Regular’ fiction: 12
Short story collections: 2
Crime: 1

As you can see, things were fairly even in terms of author gender and types of fiction, but rather shameful in the ratio of fiction to non-fiction! I am a fiction reader first and foremost, but this year I really want to increase the amount of non-fiction on my list.

I’m also going to make a concerted effort to read more from Australian authors. I was a little sad to realise only two authors on my list were Australian (although both Kindling anthologies are primarily made up of works by Australian writers). It’s so important to support the local industry, and as I become more involved in and passionate about writing and publishing, the more I want to make an effort to do just that.

So more non-fiction, more Australian authors… And what else? Well, I’m finding it a little hard to narrow down the rest of my reading goals for 2016, because there’s SO much more I want to read. More fantasy, more women writers, more YA, more big hitters of literary fiction, more books about writing itself…

In light of all that, you know what? I think I might make the simplest reader’s resolution of all for 2016…

MORE BOOKS.

LibraryArtist’s representation of what my house will look like by the end of 2016. Alllll of the books!

Surviving The Dark World Of Job Hunting

At the start of this year, my boy and I moved into a cute little apartment in the beautiful suburb of Merewether, Newcastle. It’s all been so exciting: leaving home for the first time (for me), being actual proper grown-ups (kind of), starting our own little life together. Nathan got a job at a pub that’s a thirty-second walk around the corner; we made a new friend who lives just a few streets away; we took the ten-minute walk to the beach nearly every day; we had people over for housewarming celebrations. It began, very quickly, to feel like home.

Except for one thing. It’s only a little thing, and it probably won’t seem like much to you. But for me, it put a ten-month damper on my otherwise wonderful new life. It’s the fact that I was stuck in my job: a retail position (which I’d held since I started working at age 15) at a large chain store in Maitland – 45 minutes away from Merewether. Now, this job was not really a bad job. I was paid a fair hourly rate, I didn’t have absurd working hours (most of the time), and I worked with a lot of people I really love.

But.

I’d been there for seven straight years – my whole working life. My job often involved tasks that got boring or irritating after seven minutes; after seven YEARS, you can understand how mind-meltingly menial and eternally frustrating everything became. On top of that, I was stuck in the car for a total of an hour and a half every time I had to work, often driving all that way for a measly three-hour shift. I felt like I was living half my life back in Maitland – like I couldn’t truly call my new place home – and I hated it.

Now, I’m aware that the degree I completed (a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and Writing) is far from a one-way ticket to Job Land. I won’t get into the ridiculous stigma attached to humanities degrees here, though – that’s for another time and another blog post. All I’ll say about my choice of Bachelor’s degree is that it was a necessary stepping stone to the career in publishing I am pursuing, and that I enjoyed every minute of it. What I want to make especially clear is that I didn’t expect to find a relevant job floating around and flashing my name in neon as soon as I finished my degree; all I wanted was a different job – one that was actually in my new hometown, one that I could take up while pursuing other relevant jobs and further study, and one that I might actually enjoy.

Putting this out there is pretty uncomfortable for me, because obviously the first reaction most people will have is ‘well, why couldn’t you get another job? Are you such a bad worker/so stupid/that much of a failure as a human being in general that NOBODY would hire you?’ The answer to these is actually ‘no’. I am a good worker, and I’m good at my job; I’m not stupid – I graduated from uni with an overall Distinction grade; and, apart from my weakness for Doritos and my total lack of physical grace and coordination, I am not a complete fiasco of a person. My failure to escape my old job wasn’t for lack of trying, either; I’d completed dozens of cold-call resume drops, applied for countless advertised positions, and made it through to interviews, all to no avail.

But.

Just when I thought things were never going to change and that I was going to be stuck wrapping laybys and listening to the words ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ for the rest of my miserable days, I’ve managed to land myself not one, but two new jobs – and they are actually relevant to my career path and interests! One is at a cute little bookshop in Newcastle, and the other is a writing position, in which I create monthly newsletters and business documentation content for a Lake Macquarie company.

Can you believe it?! After all this time, I have finally escaped my chain-store prison and can now work with the two things I love most – books and words – while I complete postgraduate study in those very same areas! I consider it the final step in the establishment of my new little life. While before I loved everything about my life except my job, I feel like work is now going to be one of the things in my life I enjoy the most.

To sum up what has become a very long post, I simply want to extol the virtues of patience and fortitude when it comes to getting out of a job you hate. If you’re desperately applying for jobs you don’t even want and sinking into a depression when you don’t get them, know that you’re not alone. If you find yourself crying into your locker or eating fifteen cookies on your lunch break to get you through the day – don’t worry; others have been there. I’ve done it; thousands of other people have also done it; and guess what? We got through it. There is always something on the horizon, a bright little gold spot hidden among the shitty dishwater-grey – and, as living proof, I promise you: one day soon, the little gold spot will finally catch your eye.

What every day has the potential to look like in my sunny home suburb of Merewether. :)

Me as a happy little 2012 graduate. Bring on the rest of my study!
(P.S. Yes, that is a ridiculous photobombing boyfriend you see in the background…sigh.)