The journey to being a well established writer is harder than I expected. To be quite honest…it hasn’t really been much of a journey. More like a painful walk in the snow wondering where in Gods name I’m going. It doesn’t help when you follow the hashtag ‘aspiring authors’ on Tumblr and they all write bloody amazing things. Then there’s you, sitting at your computer, staring at a blank Pages document.
“Rory Sharon Smith…how many times do I have to tell you to do these dishes?”
Aaah then there’s life in general. Good old life. They tell you life is what you make of it, well I didn’t ask to make it full of dirty dishes and laundry….but whatever you say Mister Experienced Life Lessons guy. It’s crazy that the world tells you that you are worth more than your current situation, then something so simple as doing the dishes tells you “yeah you totally are but you’re at the bottom of the barrel right now sooooo, good luck with that kid”.
“Urrrrrgeh ok ok I’ll do them now” mutters to self “why couldn’t one of the other four children you have do the dishes?”
Being a young Samoan woman in the middle of South Auckland is great…and terrifying. It’s great because you’re different, you have a different flavour to offer the world, different life experiences and different life lessons learnt. However, it’s terrifying because what if the world doesn’t like who you are? What if your honesty and pride doesn’t fit in the Western world? What if it doesn’t fit in the Polynesian world? What if it just doesn’t fit anywhere?
I was raised in the middle of two worlds. The very strict Samoan world and the very independent Western world. Then there’s a whole fruit salad of cultures within me that make everything even more confusing. To you this sounds totally amazing, “Wooo cultural diversity. YAAAAAY” To me it sounds like an unending maze of trying to figure out who I am..and then be happy with that.
“Se Rory, fai fa’alelei!”
“Do it properly Rory” I hear this way too often. What exactly is properly? The standard rules the “universe” set and randomly decided were correct? Why can’t cleaning dishes mean throw them away and buy new ones?
Why do we have to use the Palmolive dishwashing soap, why is the Sunlight soap so bad? You save a whole $5 if you use Sunlight, but noooo it’s apparently the worst one you can use. Why can’t we also eat Hellabys corned beef, Mum won’t even touch corned beef if it isn’t the Pacific Brand. Also, why can’t I just wear an ie lava lava everyday to work? No not a puletasi cause that is way too formal, but just a standard ie lava lava? And why, and this is one I’ve been thinking about for a while, why is it such a bad thing that my fa’asamoa is only one way? Like I can understand what you’re saying but if you ask Jesus himself, he’ll tell you he has no idea why I can’t speak Samoan.
Is it wrong to be Samoan? A Kiwi born Samoan? A plastic Samoan? Do I have an issue with me being a plastic Samoan?
My parents want me to a be a doctor but everyone I know is going to be a doctor. Like literally everyone, even Sione wants to be a doctor, he doesn’t even know what a test tube is. That’s not what I want. That’s not me. Firstly the only meat I’m cutting up is a juicy hot off the grill steak and secondly…I’m failing really bad in Biology, so there isn’t even a chance of this happening. My parents don’t know about that second part yet.
“Faatali seia oo ina e iloa le mea e tupu ia te oe. E malamalama?”
She’s so gonna kill me, but..seriously..is me being a mediocre Samoan going to stop me from being…great? My parents idea of greatness is being a well known doctor. By well known they mean bragging about me being a doctor to every other Samoan they know. So it’s a small, village sized idea of success. My idea of success is J.K Rowling or Sarah J Maas status. “Rory Smith international best selling author” I like the sound of that.
“Rory why are you just sta-“
Oh snap. Think fast…plan “Avoid The Hiding” engaged!!
“Mum do you believe in me? Like in a way that makes you proud?”
“What are you talk-“
*Sigh* “I don’t want to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an athlete. I want to be an author”
“Vaai Rory, matou te lei o ese mai Samoa i Niu Sila ina ia mafai ona avea o se tusitala. There is no money or success in being an author.”
“But muuuuum I love hearing and reading stories, now I want to wri-“
“NO! No no no no. You will be a doctor”
“But..but that’s what you want me to be, that’s not wh-“
“YES! that is what I want you to be. And as long as you live under my roof that’s what you’ll be. Fufulu nei ipu ma alu e moe.”
“If you talk back to me one more time..“
“Ok ok i’m sorry”
Well…I guess the plan worked. I still don’t understand why they just shut me down like that. What are they scared of? There isn’t a Samoan on this Earth who doesn’t know who Robert Louis Stevenson was. A famous author living in Samoa.
Ok fine he was a European author living in Samoa but still he was a well known author. He’s dead and people are still reading his books. I want to be “more than my current situation”. More than what everyone thinks a Samoan is like, more than what my parents expect a Samoan woman to be.
I want to be like my ancestors, story tellers. I want to take everything I know about the world and share it with everyone. Anyone. Anyone willing to read it. Why can’t they see that? How is that not deemed successful? Because you don’t make large amounts of money? WHO CARES !! That’s a lie….I sort of care…just a little.
But can you imagine someone in France picking up your book and reading what it likes to see the world through your Samoan eyes? Our people fought so hard to be heard, and continue to fight to have their voice. imagine how many people I could influence just by writing a book?
To be continued