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Donna Maree Hanson – Women’s History Month

When I look over my life it seems as if I have always been overcoming hurdles. Surviving childhood was a bit of achievement! I’m sure many of you feel the same.

That may sound glib, but if I look at me now I am far from where I ever expected or even imagined myself to be.

Looking back I am glad that I have fought so hard for my achievements because the other me, the one that didn’t strive to achieve, to change her lot in life, would have been a miserable creature indeed.

The thing about goals is that when you achieve them you have to replace them with new goals. In my late teens I believe I started to take charge of my life. I’d left school at 15 with not even the year 10 leaving certificate.

I wasn’t happy about that so I set a goal for myself to get my year 10 certificate. When I did that, I then aimed for matriculation.

That was a hard slog. I did that by correspondence with three babies under five. Later, after my marriage broke up and I found myself back in Australia, I wanted to study at university.

To do that I had to matriculate in Australia and another goal emerged. Then after getting in to university I had to study hard to get the course I wanted and the complete the degree.

With three children that wasn’t always easy. One of my daughters said she remembered how happy I was at that time and how much I enjoyed studying.

Eventually, I got a job I liked. I moved to Canberra and bought a house. Something I never thought possible for a single mother of three. Not in Sydney at least. Not long after I took on my baby nephew and it became four children to raise.

It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I asked myself: what do you really want? The answer came back I want to write. That’s where my writing journey really begins. You can’t really count the attempt I made a 20, when I thought I was too stupid to write a novel.

So this is the time where I started. I just sat down and wrote, and wrote and not long after I had the makings of a novel. My life’s traumas have to take some credit for my creativity because I spent a lot of time in my head, in my imagination, to get through those tough times. Writing legitimises that.

Now the novel I first wrote was badly punctuated. It had sentences without verbs, run on sentences, words that were incorrect, missing words and a whole lot of first writer mistakes!

Overcoming this was my true hurdle. Turning that first draft into a story. At the time, it seemed insurmountable! A huge pile of paper that I was sure it would take me a year to correct. In those days, I thought everything would happen so quickly. I knew nothing about anything in the publishing world, of course, but I set myself on a path to learn.

In those early days I didn’t have a problem giving up television to write. I was probably so committed and intense that I sabotaged my relationship with my then partner and possibly my family.

My obstacle of choice was learning the craft of writing and learning to be a better writer. It has taken 14 years to get where I am now. Where am I now? I have no idea. The publishing world has changed around me. When I started it out the goal was a three book deal, big sales and international rights. For many a year, my goal was to get my series published.

I went through the dumps where I considered I should give up, that my work was crap, that I was wasting my time. Yet, I always came back to why I was writing and what my goal was.

When I looked around in late 2012, particularly in the romance genre, I realised that the world had changed around me. There were big publishing deals, but not many and I had to consider my options.

Digital publishing deals were the next new thing. It seemed like a bit of an experiment. I considered it would be a shame to miss out on trying it. What was the worst thing that could happen? That no one would buy my books. The rewards of success were indescribable. The reality was somewhere in between. It’s a bit like lotto these days. You have to be in it for a chance to win.

Of course I know I’m not the one with the huge publishing deal with six figures, but you know I don’t care. Publishing that first title lit a fire inside of me. I wrote and wrote and I have more books out now. I realise now that all those years where I navel gazed, I should have kept on writing all the different things I wanted to write but that I’d been putting off. Putting off to some future time when I was a full time writer.

I was my own hurdle, my own obstacle.

Now I find that I have a certain liberation. I write for me. I write what I fancy.

Donna Maree Hanson writes fantasy, science fiction, horror, and under a pseudonym paranormal romance. She has been writing creatively since November 2000. She has had about 20 short stories published in various small press and ezines. Her long works include: Rayessa & the Space Pirates, was published with Harlequin’ s digital imprint, Escape and Rayessa & the Space Pirates (2013), the sequel which will be out with Escape in May 2015. Dragon Wine was published by Momentum (Pan Macmillan Australia’s Digital Imprint) in two parts, Shatterwing and Skywatcher in 2014.

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