I was a student at the Queensland University of Technology 2003-2004. I graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Creative Writing). Having knocked off a year of electives from previous study at Griffith University I went from kind of a ‘first year’ mode in 2003 to ‘shit we’re about to graduate mode’ in 2004. I was not a good student but in my last semester I tried to seek out some opportunities, I did a work elective where I wrote the newspaper for the Brisbane Writer’s Festival with a small group of fellow students, I submitted a short story to be published in a book of student’s collections ( I was rejected and received feedback that included “a patchwork of movie cheese”), I volunteered at the Brisbane International Film Festival and submitted reviews to a film website that were rejected, and I submitted a film review to the student guild magazine Utopia.
Coming out of a lecture one day with one of my friends we walked past a tray of the latest Utopia. As I was leafing through it, he mentioned “I’m in it, you’re in it too.” I became very excited, repeating back to him “I’m in it?!”. I couldn’t tell if he was taking the piss or not as I scrambled to find where. I’ll never forget when I saw my byline. It just looked so damn beautiful. I hadn’t been notified by the Utopia staff. I confirmed later you got paid for submissions. In my last year I was over at Kelvin Grove campus but the offices for the magazine were over at Gardens Point. After the semester had ended I finally went into Gardens Point and picked up a cheque for $15.00. I was a university student then and while it wouldn’t go far every $15.00 helped. I never cashed the cheque. I wanted it as a memory of the first time somebody paid me for my writing. This in my mind made me a writer. It certainly is one of those things in life where only you can take what it means to you, away from you.
I submitted another story to Utopia but they didn’t publish it. The following year I walked around to every film studio and producer in Brisbane and dropped off my resume. I only heard back from two to say they weren’t hiring but wished me the best of luck. I had one interview with one film production company which I really enjoyed but I didn’t get the job. In 2006 I went back to university. In 2007 I was a gopher on a film set and in 2008 I met my wife. Life got away but I started blogging, and more so when I did my Graduate Certificate in 2015, and buoyed by the community I found online and engaged with I submitted reviews to film websites I followed. Only a couple and I never heard back.
I decided to try somewhere more local last year and submitted to Scenestr which had been Scene magazine when I was at university. The editor there liked my review and on the 23rd of February, 2017 my review for Hidden Figures was published on their website and they put me on the e-mail list of their freelance contributors. In the year since I’ve become a regular contributor to Scenestr (44 – 15 interviews, 13 film reviews, 13 theatre reviews, 3 stand-up reviews), Heavy (22), Buzz (8) and X-Press (5). I’ve also had one of my reviews published with FilmInk. That’s 80 published pieces in the past year. It is not how I make my living, that I must be clear about, but it allows me to pretend I’m a writer, film critic, an interviewer. Because for small pockets of time it is what I do and I work hard at it and I do get compensated for it. So I guess I’m a writer no matter how much money I make. I’m a writer again just like I was when that film review got published in the guild magazine over a decade ago and I’m very grateful to be able to say that. 81 and counting.