Drawing a line in the sand

Strong people tend to stay with people and situations far longer than necessary. They keep persisting and trying. But everyone has limits and at some point when they realise that their efforts are one sided, wasted, not wanted, that’s when they give up and walk away. When they finally walk away, they may still have doubts. But they know it’s right, and that staying in the situation would be futile and destructive. They need to be set ‘free’, to move on with their journey.

My situation fits into this. I drew a line in the sand when ‘When Study Goes Wrong’ was published. My time trying over and over again to work in the legal profession, something I studied long and hard for and even went onto higher studies for, was over. I made my choice to get as far away from law as possible when I wrote ‘When Study Goes Wrong’. I firmly believe that when something isn’t good for you, hurts you over and over again that you need to have the strength to walk away. That applies in life and in this case, work.

“I firmly believe that when something isn’t good for you, hurts you over and over again that you need to have the strength to walk away.”

Since publishing ‘When Study Goes Wrong’, I have heard from graduates going through the same, disillusioned and glad to know they aren’t alone. I have also connected with people who have offered assistance and guidance to start in the industry. I have declined all such offers. 10 years ago I would have jumped at the chance, even 3 years ago I would have jumped at the chance. However, times change, priorities change, and sadly, those offers of assistance came too late. The line has been drawn and I won’t step back over it to the other side.

I am slowly moving forward. I may be taking steps back in the process – there are ups and downs just like any other situation. Never back over the line though. Law lies over that line as a mistake not to be repeated. Things didn’t work out as intended, not for lack of trying and not due to failure. It just didn’t happen. Barely even an interview arose from the expensive pieces of paper. I was not well connected, I was not from a well-off family, I didn’t have an Australian name, I didn’t fall into any special category such as Indigenous Australians or refugees, and I was not exceptionally pretty either. Those are automatic difficulties in the profession I’d chosen believing that those things would not matter. I believed it was about knowledge and justice back then. I was wrong. As an 18 year old with big dreams, how could I know that the thing that really matters is who you know. This applies to other industries also.

Lawyer is not a title I like to associate myself with. The profession largely have no knowledge of integrity or justice. Only dollar signs. Scathing? Perhaps, but it is the truth of my experience. An experience that has left me in debt, struggling and disadvantaged in comparison to those who started their careers immediately without further study. I should have done the same – I fell behind by choosing law.

I can only take my recovery from this experience one day at a time. The drawing of the line in the sand helps to look forward and not to the past. I am strong enough to have walked away and I will be strong enough to continue moving forward without ever looking back.

An introduction to reviews…bad ones

My travel blog

For authors, our work is out there for all to see. They can love it, hate it and everything in between. We will never please everyone, like all things, it is a matter of personal preference.

I have just been introduced to what it is like to receive a bad review. It wasn’t horrendous, but there’s no skirting around the issue – it wasn’t exactly positive either. It was reviewed by Kirkus Reviews, a well-known entity in the publishing industry, known for their harsh reviews.

For example, using another book in the travel genre, they called Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, “An unsuccessful attempt at a memoir from novelist and journalist Gilbert…”. Considering Julia Roberts played Gilbert in the movie, I don’t think Gilbert was crying into her tea when she read Kirkus’ review!

I don’t want to repeat the review in full for ‘A Greek Odyssey’, I have taken…

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Turning ideas into books

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Book writing isn’t easy, if it was, everyone would be doing it. So how do you take that idea and turn it into a book?

Firstly, it needs to be an idea that is broad enough to become a book, but not so broad that the ideas and story jump all over the place. It needs to be structured, with a clear outline to work from. This doesn’t stop you adding ideas, or changing concepts that don’t end up working for you. It simply is a guide, a fluid guide which moves and changes along with your writing.

Choosing a topic is very important. Why are you the best person to write about this topic, what other books are out there on this topic? Is your perspective new and fresh, does it lend to the knowledge and literature in the area of your choice? Do you need contributors? Who are you writing for? Do you have a clear understanding of your intended audience? All of these questions and more need to be asked before you start to write or at least when you have written some of the manuscript and may have a better idea where you’re heading with it.

Then what? Do you start writing and see how far you get or start writing only once you have done all your research and outlined each chapter?

I personally start writing my foreword once I have a bit of an outline, then I find I can usually keep writing from there and get several chapters in before I have to stop and bring in some of my research, check the outline and ensure I have covered everything I intend to cover in each chapter. This would be different for a fictional work as it progresses between plot points. For a non-fiction book the focus is on covering topics and sub-topics, bringing in research and raising discussion points around each.

All you need is an idea and you can create from it what you want – a blog post, an article, a feature article or an entire book. It’s up to you and up to the topic you choose.

When I was first writing ‘When Study Goes Wrong’, it got to a point where I thought, am I writing a book or am I writing a very long article? However once the stories from other graduates started coming in and I focused my writing on each area I wanted to cover, I found my word count increased dramatically and it went from long article to a book well on its way to being finished within one weekend of intense work. I needed that weekend; it inspired me to keep going once I saw that my book was taking shape.

My second book came from a simple idea also. I thought after ‘When Study Goes Wrong’ was published that the last thing I wanted to do was to start work on a second book, at least within the first year. Little did I know that I would be struck with an idea and have to start writing it down within two months of publishing. Now book 2 has also taken shape, it’s currently about half a book. I aim to publish book 2 in 2015 also, before Christmas if all goes to plan. While book 2 is also non-fiction, it’s still very different to ‘When Study Goes Wrong’. It is a different genre; it is a different type of writing in fact. As a travel book, it allows me to delve further into descriptive language to let the reader ‘see’ a location while ‘When Study Goes Wrong’ was more academic but written in an easy to read, conversational style.

My advice is to read widely and let ideas grow – you never know where an idea may take you.

When Study Goes Wrong

My book, ‘When Study Goes Wrong’ looks into the issue of graduate employment, focusing on graduates who have been unable to work in their field of study through no fault of their own. Using my own experience and interviews with other graduates, I shed light on this prevalent issue.

Let’s take a look at what the statistics available about university graduate outcomes say. In the 2014 Annual Graduates Survey conducted by Graduate Careers Australia, there was a response rate to the survey of 59.3% of Australian resident graduates.

The survey reported a slight drop in the short-term employment prospects of graduates, with the percentage of students who were in full-time employment within 4 months of their graduation measured at 68.1%, compared to 71.3% in 2013. This was then followed by the percentage of graduates working part-time or casually while still looking for full-time work at 20.3% and 11.6% who were not working and looking for employment.

What these statistics don’t cover is whether the reported employment is actually within the graduate’s field of study. The answer is that it may well be in another area. What is counted is employment, not whether that employment is within the field of study.

As school leavers look forward to the end of the year, they also look into their options. Uni, TAFE, apprenticeships? The choices are there and students need to make an informed choice, not only in regards to the area of study but the jobs available in that field.

The graduates I interviewed studied a number of fields – law, communication, business, IT, engineering and more. There was an over-representation of graduates in law. Just like myself, they had struggled to find employment within their field. One eventually found a way due to having the capacity to do extended periods of work experience. Others didn’t-they chose new paths and coped with this unexpected outcome of their study. Underemployment. One retrained and became a hairdresser, another returned to his previous career as a teacher, another started her study with the hope of improving her circumstances and found that she had been better off working in retail than she was as an unemployed law graduate.

What is evident is that the current economic climate is affecting more and more graduates. Graduates need to be prepared to cope with an uncertain future. My advice to school leavers is to choose carefully, research job prospects in their field and do everything they can to create connections in that field. This should be done as early as their first year of study.

Study is a large investment, an investment that may or may not pay off. If you’d like to read more, check out my book at the link below: http://www.amazon.com/When-Study-Goes-Wrong/dp/1494862875

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Research

I wish there was a magic button to press that would do all research required for the new book I’m writing. Since this has not yet been invented, I will have to make do with my current process:

Write and plan chapter
Research required information
Write some more
Go through and edit each chapter upon completion
Repeat!

At this stage I’m embarking on chapter 3. I prefer writing and researching as I go. I like the flexibility of getting another idea while researching an area and including it if it’s relevant. I don’t want to be tied into the original chapter layout. I imagine others might research each area required and only then start writing. Every writer has their own style and their own preferences for the way they work. This is my way and it’s also the way I wrote my first book.

What’s important is knowing where you want to go and how to get there. You need to be organised, methodical and use your time wisely. I work full time and weekends are the largest chunk of time I have to write. I do write during the week also which ends in exhaustion. I truly dislike looking at a computer screen all day at work and then going home and looking at a laptop screen instead. It gets tiring, but by taking proper breaks, the work is done. Perhaps not as quickly as I’d like, but it does get done. How I’d love to experience writing full time, having the ability to write each day without worrying about what time it is! I hope to be able to do that one day, until then it remains a dream.

Now, as it is the weekend, I have to keep writing and researching. How do you write/research? What is your method?1-StressedWomanAtLaptopComputersmall