In 2005 I finished a science degree that set me up for boring jobs. I was a logical thinker and studying set me up for a logical job with a logical salary. But I still wasn’t satisfied. I researched for years after completing that degree in search of a course that would sharpen my skills to provide work that would be interesting. Studying science taught me to be analytical thinker. That was good, I suppose. It occasionally has me feeling lucky when somebody wants to appreciate a bit of knowledge about the body. The rewards are limited.
When I started writing I never referred to myself as a “writer”. I felt that every Tom, Dick or Harry could take up writing then say “I’m a writer.” I travelled to New York at one point and found myself sitting in bars with next to every second person I met telling me, “I’m a writer.”
Am I really one of these guys? I thought.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was doing the same, at least not at the time. I suppose there was something inside me that questioned, what makes you think you can write?
I found a short story writing course that was a module contributing to the postgraduate diploma in professional writing at Deakin University in Australia after time. I eventually finished a Master of Arts (writing and literature) and I suppose that gave me a few feathers to support, “I’m a writer”.
My family weren’t the wealthiest growing up. They were middle class and in many ways calling yourself a writer to the middle class in Australia was like coming out and saying, “I’m gay.” I’ve never crossed that bridge, but that’s how I imagine it’d to feel.
Now I tell people, “I’m a writer.” That feels ok for a moment, they glow a little after I tell them, then I dim the light: “But it doesn’t pay.”
Gaston Cavalleri is a travel writer, author and screenwriter from Australia.