When I was in my mid-thirties, I decided to start my own business as a technical writer. I already had a science degree and most of an MBA from excellent universities, but I was looking for something different: something more practical and flexible. A TAFE course seemed a logical choice.
It was only after I started at TAFE that I realised how lucky I was. The real-world experience of the teachers and the wildly varying backgrounds of my fellow students was astonishing to me. I’d never ‘learnt by doing’ before; I’d always studied something theoretically before turning a tentative hand to trying it myself. In my TAFE course, though, everyone was experimental and brave. Everyone broke new ground and helped each other succeed. I’d never studied in that way before. It blew my mind.
At the end of my first year at TAFE, we were given a creative writing assignment. I started writing a story about a woman who counted things. I’d never written fiction before but this story didn’t come from thin air: it was a direct result of my TAFE course’s support for creativity. Throughout my second year I kept working on this story, with the feedback and advice of my teachers and fellow students. Gradually, that story became my first novel, Addition, which went on to be published in 17 countries around the world.
I’m sure of one thing: If I hadn’t enrolled in TAFE, I wouldn’t be a novelist today.
Toni Jordan is an Australian author. Her debut, the international best-seller Addition was longlisted for the Miles Franklin award and won the Indie Award for best first book.