Two years ago the thought of having my words published in a book was fanciful. I was not a writer, I didn’t have leather patches on my jacket or wear a beret. The average seven year old could spell better. I wasn’t qualified. Last year I appeared in the Almanac for the first time and this year have been lucky enough to get a gig again. I am a fortunate man. We all owe a little something to the Almanac.
For an amatuer writer it is the ultimate thrill to see your words in print. Your words can sit on a bookshelf next to the likes of Dickens and Tolstoy. A bookshelf doesn’t discriminate, it embraces. Ok so Warwick Capper has written a book, but by and large it is a noble craft.
How have we all ended up at the Almanac? Drawn in by friends? That bloke named Harms from the Telly? Stumbled upon it by chance? There are great professional writers in the mix, those we have read in the papers, school teachers, kids, pensioners with a dry wit and acid tongue, footballers tragics and even the odd agitator thrown in for good measure. The Almanac is a weird mob with a collective goal – to entertain and express oneself using the great game as an outlet.
All writers are equal at the Almanac. You don’t need to get a number tattooed on your calf to see where you fit in.
My story started in an office block in East Melbourne two years ago. I used to be the General Manager of Deaf Sports Australia. A great little organisation getting deaf and hard of hearing Australians involved in sport. The challenge of the role was that I sat in an office with 4 staff members who were deaf. Communication was difficult (on both sides). My Auslan (sign language skills) were akin to a Contiki Tour member navigating their way through the Vatican. I felt isolated and needed to find another communication outlet.
The Almanac found me on the Friday before the 2011 Grand Final. A random internet search one lunch time and I came across the site. I think I punched in football and writing into Google whilst looking for a football history book.
I read a little and was hooked. There was an honesty about the writing. No spin. No Bullshit. Dry humour. Passion. A quick look around the site and apparently I could get my words published if they were half decent.
Am I a writer? I once wanted to be. I loved writing in early high school. Wuthering Heights killed me, 6 pages in and I needed air. I was confused, failed an exam and packed it in. Maybe if Heathcliff had a surname I would have gone further?
I didn’t write much for the next 20 years.
I started slowly penning a few articles leading up to the 2012 season, generic stuff, not wanting to expose myself for fear of rejection. I got a few comments from fellow readers and my confidence built. I started to feel like I belonged.
In 2012 I became a father and this opened up a whole new range of writing and emotions. It made me reflect about my own father’s role in my life and how football had been a constant binding force in our lives. The joys of the first footy jumper for my son; life lessons learnt through football and so on sprang to life as contributions. My writing became more personal. I was giving more of myself.
I got the nod that my review of the St Kilda - Swans game would make the 2012 Almanac. Wow. I achieved something. I couldn’t make the book launch due to work so I sent my wife around to the Harms residence to do a book pick up. Not sure the CEO of Penguin would let you lob up at his house. The Almanac doesn’t care for airs and graces.
Sophie arrives and I nervously thumb through the pages until I get to my game review. There it is. I’m in print. I am as proud as punch. I wonder if seasoned writers get the same satisfaction upon seeing themselves in print or does it become a matter of routine?
I think I single handingly underwrote the 2012 Almanac budget. I ordered copies for anyone I knew. My aunty’s third cousin’s postman was half a chance of getting one.
I gave Dad a copy and it genuinely stopped him in his tracks. I think he carries the book around in the car and every person in Wagga has now seen a copy.
Another year goes by and my writing continues, and hopefully improves. Its been a tough 12 months with some illness issues for my son and the support and empathy from some of the fellow Almanackers will not slowly be forgotten.
I’ve found a passion with my writing and for that I owe a deep sense of gratitude to everyone associated with the Almanac.
I’ll be at the Melbourne launch this year. For one night of the year I’ll be a fully fledged writer.