August 20th, 2023Just sayin’…by Donna Kelly
WORDS in Winter is coming up soon – end of August – so I thought I would take a trip down memory lane and my own love of words.
I learnt to read and write when I was pretty young. Not my doing as much as my parents. As a little kid, Dad used to read to me before I went to sleep but he generally fell asleep before he got more than about a page done, and I realised if I ever wanted to get to the end of the book, I had to learn to read myself. So I did.
Mum had been a teacher after leaving school and, while she had to give up work once she married, taught me how to write, and even how to write my name in cursive. I tried doing that at school in prep but was told that would have to wait another couple of years. Mum was ahead of her/my time.
At primary school I had some great teachers but the librarian was the best. She encouraged me to read so many books and to write to the authors. I got quite a few letters back which was really encouraging to a young girl.
In high school I joined the editorial team of the annual school magazine, subbing work sent in by other students. I continued writing to authors, snail mail, and getting return correspondence. I also took on work experience at the then Frankston Standard when I was in form 3 (year 9 now) and realised I wanted to be a journalist. I tried to get into RMIT’s journalism course but failed, instead heading to Monash Uni for a Bachelor of Arts. Actually, it was the Chisholm Institute of Technology with campuses at Frankston and Caulfield. I had not done either maths or a language in my final year of secondary schooling so could not gain entry into a “real” university.
I was pretty happy when Monash took over the institute many years later and I could claim my new degree status. Other students who went to the “real” Monash were not so pleased. But I digress.
After uni I went for cadetships at the Herald Sun and The Age. Not a chance. Both their written tests asked which relative you had working at the paper. Nepotism at its finest. Part of the journalism world.
But never fear. The work experience, which I had continued ad hoc, was going to pay off with a cadetship coming up at the Frankston Standard. Hmmm. Nope. The daughter of a woman working there got the position. But I did find myself at the Southern Peninsula Gazette. Finally.
The rest is history. Gigs at papers including The Cairns Post, The News in Karratha, The Centralian Advocate in Alice Springs, The Courier Mail in Brisbane, Quest Newspapers in Logan, and even TNT magazine in London, before moving to Glenlyon. Then it was The Advertiser in Bendigo, The Courier in Ballarat, The Advocate in Daylesford and finally, The Local.
And I still love words. Hearing them from people I am interviewing, crafting them into a story, dreaming up a headline or an intro, seeing them printed on the page. It’s a lot of fun and also a privilege – sharing lives and stories and events. Sometimes helping people. Sometimes just knowing it’s a great read.
Hopefully you can get along to an event at Words in Winter. Like-minded people sharing words with each other and their audiences. I know there is a trend to use acronyms and abbreviations, short texts to communicate with friends, but there is nothing like hitting the last full stop on a really great story. Or even an average column. Just sayin’…