Coping strategy turns into next chapter for student's journey

18 August 2022

A simple coping strategy for 20-year-old Bethany Pirie has turned into what could become her career path.

Growing up an anxious child' facing the challenges of daily life' Bethany turned to writing in order to create fictional worlds where she would seek comfort from the "mundanity and occasional chaos" of her life.

The CQUniversity Bachelor of Digital Media student now has two self-published novels with a possible third in the works.

"Growing up I was a really anxious kid and had a fear of the unknown'" Bethany said.

"I naturally found myself drawn to writing because when I create' I have complete control. I know everything about the worlds that I create. I know the character's thoughts' motivations' pasts and futures. I dictate how they interact. I control what happens and I get to justify why'" she explained.

"Living vicariously through the protagonists of books and movies has allowed me to experience situations and emotions in a way that has felt safe. It has allowed me to live beyond what my boring reality has had to offer."

According to Bethany' that 'boring reality' was attending the same school from kindergarten to Year 12' living in the same house her entire life' not having many friends nor having much "going on".

"Most things are out of my control so having this space' this fictional playground' where I call the shots' it's very comforting. Writing is always something I've gone back to when life feels uncertain."

Bethany's two self-published novels have been released through Kindle Direct Publishing and are titled A Finnch's Flight and The Hopeless Motel.

"If I put in all the work' writing' editing and cover designing' Kindle Direct Publishing physically makes the book. But that makes it so that my novels are available on Amazon for anyone to buy' which is so cool'" Bethany said.

"I've always adored fiction' I loved reading growing up. When I was 12 I started putting that love into practice and inspired by the likes of Maze Runner and The Hunger Games I came up with my own plot for a story. That eventually turned into A Finnch's Flight. I refined the characters and plot from the ages of 12-18. Over the course of those six years' I learned how to write - mostly through trial and error - and bits of feedback. When I was 19' I looked at the mess that was A Finnch's Flight and I made it a goal of mine to self-publish it into something coherent."

Bethany said A Finnch's Flight was inspired by her fear of growing up.

"I had it in my head that adulthood/growing up was this very binary test that one passed or failed and that's essentially what the protagonist goes through in this story."

The Hopeless Motel is a story about a reality where The Universe attempts to keep people on track.

"If one strays too far from their path' they awake as passengers in their own vehicles' being driven to The Hopeless Motel' a place they're trapped in until The Universe allows them to leave'" Bethany explained.

Born and bred in Mackay where she continues to live' Bethany is in the final year of her undergraduate degree at CQU and said writing was now her primary hobby.

"When I start a project' I get really obsessed with it and I get a lot done quite quickly'" she said.

"At the height of my productivity on The Hopeless Motel I was writing about 2000 words a day and I did that for about 20 days straight."

Wise beyond her years' and in proving that there's nothing she won't have a try at' Bethany is using her final year individual capstone unit - Digital Media Project - to develop a screenplay from The Hopeless Motel.

"I often dream of sitting down in a theatre to watch a movie adaptation of a novel I wrote'" she said.

"I'd love to see famous actors take on the roles of Finnch Stone or Lorelai Cortez' but I'd love just to see these characters realised in any way' shape or form beyond the pages - whatever form that may be."

She said trying to view a book that she had penned' turn into a movie' was proving to be "quite challenging".

"It's difficult trying to figure out what needs to be changed to fit the movie format' but I'm enjoying the process and I'm excited to keep working on it."

In the meantime' there's another potential book in the works.

"I'm currently working on another novel that focuses on a hyper masculine/militaristic society where any and all forms creativity is criminalised'" Bethany explained.

"Its protagonist' Westley Beckett' finds strength through breaking society's rules and expectations."

As far as her long-term future goes' the sky appears to be the limit for Bethany.

"I'm happy to see where life takes me'" she said.

"But I'd love to pursue a career with my novels' or at least something to do with movies or television."

CQUniversity Digital Media lecturer Jim Picton supervises Bethany in the Digital Media Project unit and said Bethany was very unassuming.

"She has boundless talent as a creative storyteller and has been an absolute inspiration for my other digital media students who are quite open with their battles against procrastination'" Jim said.

"The fact that she also works a casual job and has been able to complete two novels and maintain a high GPA (grade point average) in this' her last term of study' is nothing short of remarkable'" he said.

"Bethany is a highly-focused and passionate digital media student who has a bright future ahead of her."