I have effed about a lot over the years, when it comes to career. I mean, seriously. I’ve been a carnie, I’ve worked in a ball bearing factory, I’ve even worked as a bikini girl in a dunking machine (not lately, obviously).
But now, here I am, and I am just so happy with my career, I cannot believe I am finally here (not that it’s a destination – I have MUCH more to do yet!). I’m launching something pretty cool to help others get there too, but more about that in a minute.
When I finished school in Queensland in 1990, we measured our performance with something called a TE score. The best you could get was 990. I got 790. That score was so low, I didn’t qualify to get into ANY uni courses in greater Brisbane. My confidence was at a seriously low ebb and I had no idea what I wanted to do.
I always wanted to be a writer but I came from a working class background where those kinds of careers were nice-to-haves – and you couldn’t rely on them to pay your rent. So I had loads of uninspiring jobs while I figured myself out.
It wasn’t until after I travelled overseas and I met people from all kinds of backgrounds doing all kinds of interesting things that my confidence started to grow. I decided to move back home and apply to go to uni.
I was accepted into arts, where I started on a journalism major, before I realised I could never be any good at the ‘ambulance chasing’ aspect, so I dropped journalism and majored in politics and Indigenous studies, because they fascinated me. When I finished, I realised I had no particular career prospects, but what I did have was the confidence to finally go after what I wanted.
The professional writing degree I applied for at Deakin University was hard to get into, but my grades from my first degree were excellent, and so I was accepted into my dream degree. I packed my bags and moved to Melbourne. I was 28.
That decision changed my life. I worked hard, I met people who could help me, I gained experience, and I started down the path of a successful freelance writing career that has seen me publish my work in the Sydney Morning Herald, Women’s Health, Dumbo Feather, The Big Issue, Practical Parenting, and loads more.
I’ve worked as an editor on a bunch of publications, including magazines, books, websites and literary journals. I’ve started this blog, which has helped me find a brilliant group of women and change my world in the most amazing and wonderful ways, and I’ve started my second blog Freelance Writers Cartel, where I write articles about being a freelance writer, and get to meet other writers, learn from their careers and hear their stories.
This makes me happy beyond anything I could have imagined when I opened that envelope in 1990 and saw that terrible score that I thought meant the end of my writing dreams.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Thank goodness.
And now I get to help others who want to make that leap into freelance writing. It can be a scary and mysterious career when you’re first starting out, so I’m going to help people who would like to start pitching and selling their stories to websites and magazines.
Want to check it out? Have a look at my Career Kickstarter Course. We’re getting started on 7 September so now is the time to jump in! And right now I’m offering an introductory offer of 20% off. Just enter the code FWC20 at checkout.
Hope to see you there!
Thanks for sharing more of your story Carolyn. I finished school in 1990 too, with a decent TE score that COULD have got me into various courses I wanted….and yet I still effed around for ages before returning to an arts degree, lol. I declared I wanted to be a writer in Grade 10, when we did work experience etc, but a career advisor told me it was a ‘fantasy career’ and I’d never make it. Nice. Here’s to following your dreams 🙂
Do you think maybe being a writer WAS more of a fantasy back in the 80s?? Glad the world has changed – for both our sakes, Lara! xx
I can so relate to this! I think it’s incredibly important for people to remember there’s no set path to get to where you want to go – you create it. And who cares if there are a few bumps or detours along the way? That’s what makes a better, stronger person. Plus they make for hilarious stories later in life. x
Absolutely! I have lots of hilarious stories…xxx
I love this Carolyn. I like to think that somehow we always end up where we’re meant to be. It may take a while for the light-bulb moment when you realise where that is, but once you do, ‘aint nothin’ gonna stop ya!
I love that idea, thanks Jodi! xx
So true. I was in my late 30s before I took a real punt on writing. My writing career has now been bouncing up and down for 4 years. I’m crossing over to copywriting and couldn’t be happier. Thanks for sharing Carolyn.
Fantastic – it’s great to find your niche and be happy in what you’re doing. Thanks Jennifer. xx
I’ve had many careers and can confidently say that I never think it’s over if you love what you do. I love that you love what you do and am sending massive vibes (they are seriously f*ing huge) for the success of your course. x
I can feel your massive vibes, Bron! Thanks so much. xxxx
Well done for getting to where you wanted to be – those few wrong turns have just made for a more interesting you!
Show me someone who has had everything go their way, and I’ll show you someone who has nothing to write about. 🙂
Gawd Carolyn, you are so smart. Must have been a wee blip in those last school years. Smart… and funny, which is a totally winning combo.
I’m sure you will run a fab course, generously sharing your expertise and your passion too.
Thank you my love! Yeah, school wasn’t a strong period for me. I’ll try to keep that in mind when my own kids hit senior but I’m sure I will still be a gigantic nag. 🙂
I’ve had a 25 year dream of being a writer. And a year 12 teacher who planted the seed of doubt that I was not good enough to pursue journalism. One day I’ll prove him wrong.
It just takes tiny steps, Jane, tiny steps every day in the right direction. That teacher was a dick. xx
So glad you ended up right where you are meant to be. It isn’t a race.
I think teachers in the 80’s had a lot to answer for! I loved writing & English too but was told my stories weren’t good enough. Anyway, I agree I with Jodie, you always end up where you need to be xx
I always wanted to write but faffed about for two decades before I actually did something about it. By the time I got to it, I had to sacrifice a six figure salary and a high faluting career to do what I love. Haven’t regretted it for a second. Will be recommending your course to a few younger pals who could do without the misspent 20 years.
Thanks love! Yeah, I wasted a whole lot of time not believing I could do – hoping to save some the trouble. xx