‘ “It was a dark and stormy night…” The cliché line was written in font reminiscent of a typewriter’s singular offering, with a deliberate smudge of the printed words for added authenticity. The otherwise blank sheet of paper was wrapped around the platen of the typewriter cake* from the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, with pastel icing of sage green and peachy creme, mint slice platen knobs, liquorice typebars, a musk stick space bar and keys of multi-coloured smarties. The aspiring author blew the candles and made her usual wish of publication before slicing through the cake as party guests whooped and cheered. That was me, Mek, 80s tragic, birthday cake baker, engineer, and increasingly, adopter of the label ‘writer’ as one of the many facets of my identity…’
That was a snippet of my 500-word statement that formed part of my application for a university course that has been on my radar for quite a while. Time and just the right amount of courage, trust in the universe and suspension of too much thought inspired me into a flurry of activity a few weeks before the submission date late last year. I spoke to others who had done the course, confirmed to myself it was really what I wanted to do (sheer excitement and energy at the thought of it was enough confirmation), and knuckled down to do the best I could in the written submission.
I faced IT hurdles, the mind-bending challenge of a verbal and quantitative reasoning test which turns out I probably didn’t need to do but aced regardless, and the necessity to truly back myself in presenting my writing for scrutiny.
One of the greatest challenges I have faced in pursuing my love of writing is the at times crippling imposter syndrome which is heightened by my very wobbly grasp of English grammar and the fact that a lot of the writing rules and conventions in my tool kit are those I picked up from reading and a feeling in my waters, rather than a formal education in these areas; and don’t get me started on my insecurities around pronunciations of words (minutiae? minushee? minuteeyay?). A further symptom of the insidious syndrome has been the niggling voice that brings to question why I write, what I could possibly give a reader in the way that books have given so much to me and other crap in that vein. Thanks in large part to blogging and having a space to practice and fumble and sometimes watch in wonder as something far greater than me brings words to life through me, symptoms of imposter syndrome have been alleviated, that niggling voice has been quietened and my writing voice has emerged.
In the early weeks of new motherhood in 2014 when I started this blog, I chose the tagline ‘a place to practice the craft’ and my experience of blogging has lived up to that. I am grateful for the safe and welcoming space it has been (and still is, but limited by my infrequent visits to my own and other blogs in the last year or so), and for finding a writing community that has enriched not only my writing but my life. I have made a lot of friends through blogging, some of whom have crossed communication platforms from WordPress to Instagram to Viber to text messaging and in the case of one friend, occasional lunches (in real life!) after having established that we not only both work in Melbourne but in fact on the same street (and at one time indirectly for the same employer).
Well, this is my rambling way of saying thank you to all who have helped me along this journey, both online and off and to celebrate the fact that 5 and a half years on from starting this blog, that baby who sometimes slept in my arms while I tapped away on my computer is days away from starting school and his mamma is about to go back to university, undertaking the Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT!
If you’d like to read more, here are samples of writing I pulled off this blog for my application: