Writing is always changing in today’s world, and to be a writer is opening yourself up to an uncertainty that is different than many of the other arts. Journalists aren’t doing big exposés anymore, but instead trying to fit as much as they can about a story into a 160-character tweet. Poets are not writing long soliloquies; they are trying fit to their poems onto an Instagram-worthy photo to receive a vast amount of likes. J.K. Rowling herself publishes her thoughts about the wizarding world on a website instead of writing a sequel to Harry Potter.
This change does not mean writing is a dying art. In fact, more people express themselves than ever in the form of the written word, whether it be in their blogs, or even a Facebook status. However, this paradigm shift has brought a different kind of writer to the forefront. To be a writer nowadays, you have to be able to adapt at all times, and you have to always be willing to learn. And to be a successful writer in a world where everyone has the education and means to write, you have to be truly exceptional.
New Zealand-born writer Sarah Gooding is one of the truly exceptional, and her successes as a writer are not just her credentials, but also her appreciation of the art.
“I love writing because it means I am always learning, whether it’s about other people, projects, ideas or myself. The more writing I do the more I learn and refine my writing. That’s the one thing that makes me excited about ageing, because I feel like when I’m 80 surely I’ll be really good,” said Gooding. “Or at least I’ll have stopped caring what other people think.”
Gooding has had many achievements in her writing career. She co-founded and wrote for Einstein Music Journal (EMJ), New Zealand’s foremost music blog, from 2007 to 2012. Her work on EMJ went on to be a finalist in the Music category of Concrete Playground’s Blogger Awards in 2011, and was awarded Blog of the Week by Breakthru Radio in New York City in 2009.
She went on to write for the Australian edition of Complex, a worldwide culture magazine. She wrote an article about the nature of selfies and celebrities and an artist named Clara Chon, who was picked to hand-paint a jacket for Kim Kardashian that garnered worldwide attention from publications around the world including The Daily Mail and Vogue. The article was picked up by US Weekly.
“The jacket was supposed to just be for a one-off photo shoot, but Kim loved it so much that she kept wearing it everywhere,” Gooding explained. “It was an interesting story of celebrity and anonymity, as Clara remained faceless while her work became super-famous. It was a great jumping-off point for a story on the phenomenon of selfies, and how they’re these constructed ideals that are simultaneously self-denial and self-validation.”
Gooding also writes about women’s issues. She wrote an article for The Guardian about a severe gender discrepancy she had observed in cafes throughout Melbourne, Australia and which she came to realize were rife in international barista competitions as well.
“Basically there are all these barriers to women in the coffee industry and the lack of visibility has a trickle-down effect. I am really passionate about equality and women’s issues, and I always find it rewarding to write about things I feel strongly about,” she said. “There is nothing more satisfying than when you can clearly articulate how you feel about something and publish it, and have people respond to you. Whether they agree or disagree, just knowing that your writing cut through the noise and made someone stop and think is powerful.”
Her article received worldwide attention, reaching the publication’s two million monthly readers and gaining over 3,000 shares across social media.
Gooding has also written extensively about women’s issues for i-D Australia, including a recent article that took a new look at fandom and the phenomenon it presents, by focusing on a student named Millie Lovelock. Millie is studying the boy band One Direction at university as part of her master’s degree in English.
“I wrote about how she is exploring how young girls are figuring out their identities, finding acceptance and expressing their sexualities through fandom,” said Gooding. “My story became an important part of the global conversation that people are having about the legitimacy of young women’s fandom.”
The article went on to be picked up by Teen Vogue (USA), MTV (UK), Elite Daily (USA), Girlfriend (Australia), Dolly (Australia) and Australia Network News. It was also featured on The Wireless’s list of the “Best Longreads on the Web”.
Gooding has also worked for Clemenger BBDO and the Clemenger Group, Australia’s largest and most successful creative marketing communications network. She was regularly consulted by leading members of the company and her skills were regularly requested and utilized by other companies in the Clemenger Group, including CHE Proximity and eg+. Due to her success, she was promoted to the role of Copywriter and Proofreader at eg+. eg+ falls under the Omnicom Group, which was ranked one of the top four advertising companies in the world by the New York Times.
Throughout her career, Gooding has earned the respect of many in the writing industry. When Phil Simon was putting together his book Message Not Received, he reached out to Gooding to contribute.
“I frequently reach out to others whose work I admire for my books,” said Simon. “She fused a few different sentiments related to my book into a well-written post. Toss in the image and I was hooked.”
Gooding also impressed Courtney Sanders, the editor of Catalogue magazine. Enough so, that Gooding contributed many essays, think pieces and articles to the publication.
“From my perspective as an editor, a dream writer will do two things: they’ll submit their articles on time and to the style guide of the publication; and they’ll write in a unique style, which means they build an audience for their writing in particular, over and above the audience we are creating for them,” said Sanders. “I’m happy to say Sarah has both of these things. She generates her own unique story ideas, she hands in those stories on time and to the style we demand at Catalogue, and she has built up a niche within our audience who eagerly await her authoritative and straightforward tone.”
“Sarah’s unique style allows her to break down complex ideas, whether it be the policy differences between the major parties in the recent Australian general election, or that our generation aren’t actually the giant narcissists our parents think we are, in a simple, non-patronizing way, which our entire readership can understand,” she continued.
For Gooding, the accolades are not what keeps her going.
“I want to spark debate, be a part of global conversations and help influence change,” she said. “And I always hope to inform and entertain people in the process.”