MY WRITING journey? What a ride it has been! What an adventure. And what a soup of mixed emotions, coincidence, terror, delight and sheer hard work.

The first time my words came out in print, in The Courier Mail, was an absolutely amazing feeling. There were my words, as sent by fax to the features editor the previous Friday; there they were. And there was my name at the bottom! For all to see.

I have never got past the feeling of exposure that this event brings. I was once accused of wearing my heart on my sleeve, and that was only in respect to my personal demeanour around a man I had a crush on. Imagine then the difference in putting your heart on paper for 150,000 people to read if they feel so inclined!  That was in 1994. Very soon I learned that not everyone would necessarily like what I wrote. And my weekly column was based on family humour! Imagine how thick-skinned a political commentator has to be! Being a writer was always my secret dream. I dreamed of studying journalism when I left school, but a university education was not easily gained in those days – no Austudy, no HECS. I educated myself in the school of life, writing descriptive letters and diaries which other people seemed to enjoy.

My career with the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame helped me develop my communication skills, when I needed to get messages across succinctly and in as interesting a way as possible. As well, it gave me some fantastic contacts. Years later when I was at home being a mother, I asked Ken Cowley, who was CEO of News Limited, how I might get into writing for News Ltd. He passed on a piece I wrote to the editor of the Courier Mail, Chris Mitchell.

Chris liked it, and invited me to write a weekly column about the family. This I did for five or six years when my kids were babies.  Then there was something of a hiatus, being very busy when the kids were a bit older and needed a lot of attention. Then when I saw the light of freedom I decided to continue on my writing journey.

Jane