Grok Magazine sits down with Jesse Galea, a third-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Creative Writing, to learn more about his achievements as a writer both in and outside of Curtin University.
To start things off, we ask Jesse when he first gained an interest in writing.
“I honestly can’t remember a time when I haven’t been interested in writing, even as a kid. I recently went through some old stuff of mine and found a bunch of stories I wrote in primary school. They’re all ridiculous and don’t make any sense, but I clearly had so much fun writing them, and I liked them enough to keep doing it […],” he says.
“Writing was always something I wanted to do, but it was never something I thought I could realistically do as a career, since I’d constantly hear about how little authors actually make and then how easy it is to lose your passion if you tie your creativity to your ability to live, so I mostly discounted it as a possibility.”
Jesse describes the reactions of others to be cautiously supportive after telling them that he wanted to pursue writing.
“Nobody said anything outright negative, but I felt enough of a subtle pushback – and a bit of self-doubt – that I ended up studying three years of a Secondary Education degree before I accepted that teaching isn’t something I wanted to do,” he admits.
Moving on, we question Jesse the form of writing he usually engages with.
“I love young adult, coming-of-age stories that explore individual experiences of gender and sexuality, mental health and neurodivergence, and friendships that exist anywhere along the scale from a healthy found family to a toxic and messy co-dependency. I love characters that aren’t always role models, that get things wrong or are bad friends, that are as complicated as real people,” he expresses.
“I think it can sometimes be unrealistic and even potentially disrespectful to your audience to have teenage characters act like perfect angels all the time, because people are messier than that.”
Wanting to learn about his inspirations, we ask Jesse if there was an author or a piece of media that inspired him to work in the writing industry.
“I remember the first time I consciously realised that books weren’t just magical things that appeared on shelves, but that someone had to write them, and it was when I read Heartbeat by Sharon Creech,” he affirms.
“I used to read it every single time we had silent reading in primary school and then I’d hide it until next time so nobody else could read it, because it meant so much to me. […] After rereading it last year, I realised it influenced a lot about my attitude towards writing and art in general too.”
Jesse has been a member of Curtin Writers Club over the past few years and we inquire how CWC has benefitted his writing skills and confidence with showing other people his work.
“I’m more confident in my writing overall and I’ve had enough experience to know that nobody’s going to read my work and tell me it’s the worst thing they’ve ever laid eyes on and how dare I show it to them – because most people are nice,” he says.
Jesse further describes how his role as an editor for Coze Issue 6 improved his editing skills.
“Being an editor has helped me to be more specific in my feedback for other writers, rather than defaulting to the same vague praise that I think most of us fall back on when we read someone else’s work, which is nice but not super helpful. It’s helped with knowing how to phrase that feedback in a way that isn’t going to accidentally upset the author.”
Since Jesse has contributed to the past three issues of Coze, we ask him if studying at Curtin has earned him any similar opportunities.
“Definitely. In the CWC Discord server, there’s a channel for writing opportunities. That’s where I heard about Pulch, which was my first time being published outside of Curtin. Through Pulch, I heard about an LGBTQIA+ Young Adult anthology being put together by Seth Malacari with Fremantle Press, so I submitted a short story to it and got accepted, which is genuinely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done and I’m incredibly excited about it,” he beams.
Outside of Curtin, Jesse has been published in Portside Review, Pulch, #EnbyLife, Baby Teeth and Just Femme & Dandy. We ask what his experience was like working with these groups.
“More than anything, it’s been an incredibly fun and enjoyable experience […]. Even the vibes of each publication are distinct from each other, but they’re all so supportive to the creatives who submit to them, which is incredibly encouraging,” he describes.
“Before I got any acceptances, I was collecting rejections from a ton of different literary magazines and journals […], and even the rejections were encouraging and kind. […] I didn’t feel upset at all, and just felt more passionate and motivated to write.”
We ask Jesse what he plans to do after he finishes his degree.
“My main goal is to write books, and that’s what I’m going to continuously be working towards. But next year, I’m planning on studying a Postgraduate Diploma in Information and Library Studies to become a librarian […],” he says.
Finally, we ask Jesse if he has any advice for aspiring writers who intend to study at Curtin University.
“Things like reading within the genres you want to write but not limiting yourself to only reading those genres; making sure you’re actually writing and not just talking about your writing; turning up to class, especially classes where you workshop and get feedback on drafts; and joining CWC, not just to submit to Coze, but also to get involved with Perth’s writing scene while you’re still studying and theoretically have more free time to explore the writing scene,” he advises.
“Perth is infamously tiny, so chances are, you’ll end up working with friends or friends of friends, and it makes going to events way less anxiety-inducing when you know at least one person there. That’s how it works for me, at least.”