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Marija Pericic Think Young behind the scenes
How following your creative passion can pay off

At some stage during our waking hours, many of us dream of giving up the grind to follow our passion.

Whether we have grand designs of tech start-ups, artistic glory, social enterprise, or simpler goals of working for ourselves, the urge to chase our dreams is ultimately one of freedom to be our best selves. Striking out on your own requires courage, initiative and hard work, but the rewards can be immense.

Marija Pericic, an English Language Teacher at Deakin University’s English Language Institute (DUELI), wanted to be an author. Writing, especially in today’s highly digitised and visual culture, can certainly be considered a high-risk venture. Still, once you know what you’ve got to do, only one thing remains. That’s to go ahead and give it your best.

The gatekeepers of the publishing world have a reputation for being tough to crack. But waiting on the sidelines never got anyone what they really wanted. Marija says that one of the keys to success in general is ‘researching and doing things on your own.’ Don’t just wait around for someone to tell you you’re ready.

Risk can lead to reward

Marija’s bold leap into the unknowns of authorship sets an example to any of us who dream of improving our lot. Whether you’re just starting out in your career or are considering pursuing your passion later in life, it’s never too late.

While chasing our dreams is mostly about facing our fears and limitations, and emerging from the process stronger and wiser, we can sometimes be met with more tangible rewards. Marija’s hours of unpaid labour, unflinching attention to detail and commitment to her goal would ultimately bear fruit – her debut novel, The Lost Pages.

Every year, publishing house Allen and Unwin and the Vogel Bakery present the Vogel Literary Award to the author of an unpublished manuscript. The prize is a book deal and $20,000 in prizemoney – and Marija Pericic is the latest recipient. For a first-time author, being published is the ultimate prize, but winning the Vogel places Marija in the esteemed company of Australian writers such as Gillian Mears, Tim Winton and Kate Grenville.

Fresh perspectives get attention

Marija’s incredible success can possibly be attributed to the unique approach she took when writing her novel. It’s a lesson in bold reimagining that could serve as inspiration to anyone thinking of pursuing their passion.

The book is a fictionalised account of Prague novelist, Max Brod’s rivalry with literary legend Franz Kafka. The partnership was made famous by Brod’s decision to publish Kafka’s unfinished works after his death, despite Kafka’s request that he burn the lot.

‘I asked questions that challenged what we thought we knew about a topic, to gain a fresh perspective on the characters,’ she explains.

Marija believes that critical thinking, creativity and experiencing the arts can play a leading role in helping reshape the ways we look at ourselves. ‘The arts are really important for any social change. While a lot of social change comes from things like policy, if we want to have holistic change, the arts can provide a voice that speaks to change in a way that other narratives can’t.’

Society is built on narrative, but what narratives need rethinking? What fresh perspective to you have to bring to the world?

Have a passion for creativity? Studying arts at Deakin could give you the start you need towards achieving your own dreams.

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