Sunday Mail Column for Sunday 28 February 2010
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be the blonde woman out of ABBA, an actress, a teacher, Mrs Donny Osmond, Mrs Vinnie Del Tito and Jaclyn Smith in Charlie’s Angels. I was pretty serious about the Charlie’s Angels gig to the point I spent much of my childhood in Chapel Hill running around our garden armed with a supersoaker, wearing swimmers and mum’s cork platform heels. (You’ll be relieved to know I arrested our dog Mac about 834 times).
Notice that “author” doesn’t get a mention in my list. I think that’s because when I was growing up in the 70s writers were as scarce in Brisbane as a decent coffee. I didn’t actually met a writer until I was twenty and went to the launch of one of David McRobbie’s books. Today things are different. Primary school kids have often met authors like Morris Gleitzman and Jacki French numerous times. High school kids have done writing camps with Markus Zusak and James Roy and Kim Wilkins. Writers are accessible and writing is suddenly seen as a legitimate career choice.
That said, I recommend students initially aim to be full time writers rather than full time novelists. The former is easier to achieve and is less likely to have your parents going into complete meltdown. (The average first time writer sells about 3000 copies of their novel which often earns them not much more than $6000. Try selling that career to your dad.). But life as a full time writer? That’s definitely do-able.
Just a few weeks ago I was at a school reminding the students that if you can write, you have a talent which most of the population do not possess. If you can write you can work for newspapers and magazines, you can write advertising copy for TV commercials and radio ads and print ads. You can write newsletters, speeches, brochures, website content, instruction manuals, computer games, TV scripts, film scripts and, of course, books.
Add the fact you can work for yourself, from home in your pyjamas and it makes for a pretty great career. Look at me. I’ve been a travel writer and a television publicist. I’ve written radio and TV commercials, feature articles, magazine columns, websites, brochures, speeches, newsletters, books and just last year, I wrote some TV scripts.
When Di Fitzgerald, Executive Producer of kids TV show, The Shak, invited me to pen a few episodes of her popular kids TV show, I jumped at the chance. I’d always wanted to work in children’s TV and it was a bit of a dream come true.
My episodes are on this week, if you’re keen to check them out. Meanwhile I’m launching my new book “Find Your Tribe (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school)” on Tuesday 9 March at 6.15pm at Mary Ryan’s Milton. Ring the store if you’d like to come along!
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.