It’s a particular kind of freedom to make your living out of creative work. You need discipline, but basically the whole world is at your disposal in terms of sparking creative ideas.
I get up in the morning and there’s a huge range of things I might do that feed into my writing: everything from going to the local shopping centre, going for a walk in the bush, lots of reading, obviously. There’s a lot of variety. You do need the discipline to actually sit in the chair and use the bum glue. But when you’re not using the bum glue, basically the whole world is at your disposal in terms of sparking creative ideas, and there’s a lot of freedom in that.
I get inspired to create by ordinary people and the mad, interesting, exhilarating craziness of their everyday lives. There’s no such thing as boring once you look below the surface of people from any walk of life. I love the element of surprise in that, and I like to surprise my reader by confounding their expectations.
Being an Australian creator is very different to being a delivery driver (which is what I did before) or a house painter. It can be very satisfying, but it’s a pretty hard grind financially. People think once you’ve got a couple of books published that your bank account is going “kaching” all the time, but that’s very far from the truth.
It can be isolating as well; there’s online networks of writers, and there’s a great community of writers in Brisbane. But at the end of the day it’s just you and the chair and the computer, and you’re just sitting there until there’s a book at the other end.
One of the challenges of being a writer is finding the right angle: telling stories that are quirky and innovative and interesting in ways that adhere to my cultural protocol as an Aboriginal writer. Where is Australia’s culture going to be if we have none of our own writers; if we don’t have our own filmmakers; if we can’t produce our own cultural content? Are we going to be a kind of ventriloquist’s dummy for Hollywood? If we don’t tell our own stories, who are we going to become?