When I was a five years old, I wanted to be an author, an actress and a ‘lady who worked at Grace Bros’. Well, 23 years have passed and, excuse the approaching cheese-fest, but I’m on the cusp of living one of those dreams. Yes, it brings me great joy to be able to announce that I have scored a role on Home and Away. Gold Logie, here I come!
The truth is, I am about to become a published author. As in, I’ve written, rewritten, edited and re-edited 80,000 words and soon all those words will be transformed into a real-life book that you can buy from lovely places like Dymocks and Berkelouw (and all good book stores, hopefully).
Yes, HarperCollins Australia are publishing my debut YA novel The Intern in February 2014 and the thought makes me want to pee my pants a little. Okay, a lot. Fine, let’s just say I’m nervous and need to know where toilets are at all times.
As a child I devoured the books of YA legends like Margaret Clark, John Marsden, Morris Gleitzman, Paul Jennings, Roald Dahl and Ann M. Martin– and even wrote terrible (semi plagiarised) Baby-Sitters Club fan fiction – so it’s surreal to say my childhood dream is only months away from coming true.
But here’s the thing about dreams, childhood ones especially: even if they do come true they don’t always look, or feel, as you imagined. As a kid when I fantasised about ‘being an author’, I thought it would be glamorous. And easy. And fun. Non-stop fun. I would write and play with friends, then I would write some more and get famous and rich and go to Disneyland and become Jonathan Taylor Thomas’ girlfriend and buy a mansion, or maybe two, and… yeah, I had a wild imagination.
Well, it turns out five-year-old me was way off in her blissful ‘this is an author’s life’ daydreaming. For a start, it’s damn hard. I have deadlines coming out of my ears… and nose… and just about every orifice imaginable.
My approach to writing can best be described as ‘frazzled’ – I squeeze in word-churning sessions at 5.30am before my fulltime job, or 8.30pm after my fulltime job, on weekends and public holidays… even family holidays (sorry, lovely in-laws). I don’t remember a day where I haven’t written, or thought about writing, or felt guilty for not writing, or wondered whether I was writing enough or… you get the picture? It’s all-consuming.
And as for my childhood forecast of glamour? I spend 90% of my novel-writing sessions wearing UGG boots and a faded navy tracksuit with a peanut butter stain on the hoodie. That pretty much says it all.
But despite struggling in the trenches with unforgiving deadlines and a quickly fading social life (and fashion sense), in the past few months I’ve realised this is real. I’m not just a crazy girl who chains herself to a computer for a laugh day in, day out: I’m sticking with this because I want to be an author. It’s happening, and yes, it’s happening fast, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience. And, while it’s hard work, there will be a pay-off… eventually.
(Cut to that trusty cliché, ‘Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy’. In fact, I might get that tattooed on my forehead.)
The best part is, now that I’ve realised I’m in the middle of my dream – even though it doesn’t quite look or feel how I imagined it might – I’m enjoying myself, stopping to smell the sharpened pencils and finding the fun again, even in the tougher moments.
Five-year-old me may have been onto something after all…
PS: I’m still waiting for Jonathon Taylor Thomas to call, though… that part of the dream will come true, right? RIGHT, YOU GUYS?
Come say hello at facebook.com/hellogabrielletozer and twitter.com/gabrielletozer – distractions welcome.