I am an artist. An artist of words.
My artistic journey started at a very young age. My first published work was in my local paper, The Quirindi Advocate, when I was just eight years old. It was entitled Santa’s Elf. The smallest and brightest elf in the North Pole. The opening words are, of course, Once upon a time…
My career in the arts has taken dips and turns, reached dead ends and wallowed in the depths of the ocean. But it’s all those sidetracks and wrong turns that have brought me to my artistic heart. Right here on the Sapphire Coast, with brilliant a blue ocean on one side and a glorious National Park on the other.
My career in journalism and the media, which has taken me from the red dust of the southwest Queensland outback to the rich soils of Victoria’s Wimmera plains, has allowed me to perfect my word art on a daily basis. I write about waste transfer stations and platypuses, bridal creeper and water pipeline projects. I also write about trees, water, soils, disability arts festivals, food festivals, ‘low and slow’ barbecue cooking and people.
I started writing with pencils and paper, then as a teenager discovered the freedom of a typewriter. The next step was writing on a heavy cumbersome computer that whirred when I hit save.
But it wasn’t until I sat up through the night in 2011, with a modern writing gadget called an iPad, that I unleashed my true artist. On this night I started penning (in the modern sense) my first piece of real art.
A novel. Fiction. Made up. Free of facts and figures, times and dates, dollars and cents. The who, what, where, when and how that directed my media career flew out the window, and in came my new, much more artistic, friends. Imaginary made up friends living imaginary made up lives. Aaahh, the freedom of being an artist revealed itself to me. It had been there the whole time, beneath the surface, waiting to break out.
I was not writing to make a living. I was not writing to meet a mad crazy media deadline. I was not writing for a client. I was writing for me.
Having achieved success as an artist, I have an insatiable hunger to get back to my art. I quickly discovered that the life of a self-published indie author was not as glamorous as the likes of Jodi Picoult, Bryce Courtenay and J.K. Rowling, but being an artist is not about fame or fortune.
Every day my fictional characters call me to open my Pages app on my iPad and back to that place where we can get reacquainted and meet new characters along the way. Call me back to my art.
I still enjoy making media marketing words through the more serious side of my business mp|media solutions, and that is something I will always do, but for a portion of every day I will slip into my artist’s clothes and open my artist’s word file and disappear for a while.
You might see me sitting in my car or in my writing chair at a cricket match. Or at Bar Beach Merimbula with wet hair as I find inspiration in the sand beneath the clear cool ocean that refreshes me. Or in a comfy red chair in the corner at Tathra Wharf, with the roaring yet soothing crash of waves coming up through the timber floorboards. Other times I will be sitting at my kitchen bench with a glass of wine, while the chaos of being a mum of three bangs and clangs around me.
Lost in my own little world. In my world as a word artist.
* This blog was also published by South East Arts as a guest post
Melissa Pouliot is a bestselling Australian indie author, who is working on her fourth fiction novel as part of the Rhiannon McVee crime mystery series. Melissa’s books have a strong missing persons theme and are all endorsed by the Australian Federal Police National Missing Persons Coordination Centre, for the role they play in raising awareness and helping families of missing people. Her fiction writing is inspired by the mysterious disappearance of her cousin Ursula Barwick in 1987. Ursula is still missing.