For Oliver Mol, receiving the Marten Bequest scholarship is “utterly, literally life changing”. As a young writer, he says, “Sometimes, more than anything, we need to hear those words, that someone believes in what we are doing, in us, and that we can, and should, keep going”.
When did you decide to pursue a career in writing?
I have been writing fairly seriously since I was seventeen years old, although, now that I think of it, I have been obsessed with literature since I read those Roald Dahl and Goosebumps books as a child. I suppose I wanted to know how they did it - how they turned books into portals, into magic tricks where we could exist simultaneously in two places seeing and learning and feeling and experiencing ourselves and others in this mad, beautiful world.
Things are a bit topsy-turvy right now with COVID-19 - what does it mean to get the news about the scholarship as this particular time?
Receiving this scholarship is utterly, literally life changing. Writers, although especially writers of books, spend many, many hours alone, and to have a scholarship from the Australia Council says - keep going. And sometimes, more than anything, we need to hear those words, that someone believes in what we are doing, in us, and that we can, and should, keep going.
What does this scholarship mean to you?
To me, this scholarship means pushing myself beyond my boundaries; it means learning a new language, Georigan, so that I might read their literature and learn their history and converse with the people who live in their beautiful country. It means writing fiction, pushing myself to inhabit those worlds that might otherwise, before, only be known through books. It means change and growth. It means everything.
What would be your ultimate dream career achievement?
My ultimate dream career achievement would be to continue writing books until I die, not focusing on any particular outcome, but rather on the process, to spend my days focusing on the next paragraph until each idea is satisfied leaving room for further ideas to be explored, and that one day, when I am old and weary, I can write as the last line on my last book that, if nothing else, I had tried.
Do you have a word of advice for other young people pursuing a career in writing?
If you want to be a writer go out and read. Go to the library. Live in the library and live in books and rip out their pages and eat those books. Write a story where you live in the library and rip out pages and eat books and hand that story into journals. Do that one thousand times. Find people who take your breath away and keep those people close to you. Forget outcome. Read the classics. Make the process of creativity your religion and know that you will fail. And try not to take it all so seriously. As Bolaño says, ‘So everything lets us down, including curiosity and honesty and what we love best. Yes, said the voice. But cheer up. It’s fun in the end.’
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