Surfing, reading, and coffee by the ocean. It’s a life that many of us dream of, and for Douglas, it’s a reality. Despite his charmed lifestyle, he felt that he needed to step outside his comfort zone, and that’s when he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a fantasy author.
When a career in professional surfing didn’t take off as planned, Douglas turned to his other passion – creative writing. He had been to uni but never got around to finishing his Arts degree. Douglas tried studying online, but didn’t really feel that he was in the right headspace to sit down and really focus. But having returned to online study 7 years later through Open Universities Australia, Douglas is thriving, and likens the online study experience to engaging on social media.
Douglas studied most of his degree on campus at Wollongong University, but when he moved, the local uni didn’t offer the subjects that he wanted. To finally complete his degree he enrolled in a couple of units from Macquarie University, through Open Universities Australia (OUA). Now Douglas has completed a Bachelor of Arts – majoring in Creative Writing and Sociology. “I contacted OUA, and a lady helped me – we talked about cross institutional study. I had an application to fill out and within a few days, I had a response. It happened so fast!” His advice is to be active in the student community if you want to get the most out of it. “My first subject was sociology. It’s all about engaging with different students and discussing view points and theories. There was so much online interaction. It was great”.
With a degree in the bag, Douglas is ready to take on the challenge of writing professionally. “At the moment I’m writing my first novel,” says Douglas. “I’ve set strict short term goals to abide by each week”. Douglas writes in the fantasy genre, but he draws upon reality to craft his themes and plot points. “It’s a fantasy novel – it’s ultimately about family relationships and coming of age. These are real things that happen to real people. I write about a fantasy world and make it relatable to everyday life”. Douglas’ major in sociology goes hand-in-hand with his writing, as he’s able to explore what makes humans behave the way they do. Douglas believes that his novel stands a better chance of success if he has a following, which is why he’s building his profile through his Douglas William Thurstan Smith blog.
Douglas’ advice to other students is to listen to themselves. People around you may have the best of intentions, but only you know where your passion lies. While Douglas’ mum envisioned a career for him in Primary teaching, Douglas stayed true to his love of creative writing , which was inspired by movies like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Douglas was spurred on to write when he discovered that his grandfather was a writer and there’s an old English poet in his family tree.
The last thing for Douglas to do is graduate, and having already sent his transcripts to Wollongong University, he’s set to graduate this October.
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