Back to School…

May 29, 2012

This month I went back to high school. When a friend who works for the children’s charity, The Smith Family, asked me if I would help out at a career day by talking to the senior students about career opportunities in the creative industries, I wondered what I could offer. How many kids leave school wanting to be writers? Then I thought about the story I had to tell. About the qualities needed to succeed as an artist. About the years I worked in finance roles in the IT and Film and TV industries and the things that taught me.  It had been a life long journey to get to where I am today and I realised all of these things could inspire those who wanted to follow a creative path. So I agreed to do an inspirational talk and I called it, ‘Follow your Dreams’.

I asked Trish Parrott of The Smith Family why they participate in the school career programs. She told me, ‘The Smith Family strongly believes that education is the key to unlocking disadvantage.’  

The Smith Family engages in a range of programs that overcome barriers to education for disadvantaged children. One of these is to help young people to transition successfully to further education, training or employment by inviting industry representatives into the classroom to inspire young people to continue their studies in order to be able to progress into a specific career. She says it is ‘heartening that business recognises their part in helping to prepare young people for the world of work.’

Waiting my turn, I sat through the career talks of representatives from many industries including IT, Hospitality, Army, Police… Nobody dared to ask a question, except the boy who piped up and asked the police officer if he could demonstrate his Taser. That caused a laugh. By the time my turn came, I was wondering if their thoughts would be more on the approaching lunch break than what I had to say. Cue my Mum, Powerpoint extraordinaire, who had put together a bit of a show reel of my book launches and exciting adventures in the name of ‘research’. She set it to Katy Perry’s song Firework. That certainly gained their attention, and gained me a round of applause. When I told them about the 3-D’s needed to be a successful artist, all eyes and ears were pointed in my direction.  

So what are those 3-D’s about?

  • the first one is DISCIPLINE – there are a lot of demands on our time these days, work, family, friends.  You need to have the discipline to put aside time to work on your craft. And you need to be able to say NO sometimes to all those people who are tugging at you for a piece of your precious time.
  • the second is DETERMINATION – the reality in the creative world is that you ARE going to come up against rejection, perhaps again and again until you get that lucky break. There’s a lot of competition out there and through this, you have to believe in yourself enough to keep going.
  • the third D is probably the most important quality you’ll need.  And that’s DETACHMENT – when we create something it’s akin to giving birth. And nobody likes to hear bad things said about their babies. But critique is part of being an artist, and it won’t always be glowing praise.  You need to be able to take a step back from your creation, not take it personally and maybe even use it to improve your work.

How do I know all this?  Well, I’ve learnt it the hard way. I liken my journey to being on a runaway train. There were times when the tracks were switched on me, and a time when the whole train just de-railed. But I still believed in following my dreams. During this journey, I’ve learnt a lot about how the industry works, and the three D’s are still just as important. One of the things Trish from The Smith Family said is ‘A good education gives people the tools and skills to navigate the best future for themselves.’ I continued to hone my craft through courses with the Queensland Writers Centre, who provide valuable resources and guidance for Queensland writers.  I’ve recently been appointed to the Board, which is a voluntary position but I hope to be able to assist writers starting out in their careers. 

Pursuing a career that you are passionate about may be one of the greatest things you ever do. Believe in yourself and never stop following your dreams… I did it. So can you.


If you would like to help The Smith Family with some of the great work they do for kids you can DONATE HERE





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Lea Scott