Rosie Waterland – The Anti-Cool Girl – Podcast

Rosie Waterland discusses her debut book, The Anti-Cool Girl, the Bachelor and growing up!

http://www.coop.com.au/books/the-anti-cool-girl/waterland-rosie/9781460750643


 

Rob:
You’re listening to The Co-op Book Podcast. I’d like to welcome Rosie Waterland to the very first Co-Op Chat. Hello, Rosie.


Rosie:
Hi.


Rob:
Now, we’re talking to Rosie, the infamous Rosie Waterland, famous for her “Bachelor of Love,” but we’re not talking about “The Bachelor.” We may touch on it, but we’re actually going to talk about her autobiography, I suppose, the “Anti-Cool Girl.” Rosie, what was it like writing about yourself?


Rosie:
It was hard, I mean, I’ve always loved writing, ever since I was a little kid, so it’s definitely a book that I’ve always wanted to write, and I think it’s always been in me. Given my childhood was quite dysfunctional, a little tumultuous, I guess, it was a lot harder to do than what I had anticipated. A lot harder.


Rob:
What was it like revisiting all those issues in past?


Rosie:
Look at it this way: I took a month off to write the book, and I ended up staying away from work for seven months, so it ended up being a much bigger job than what I thought, a much harder job than what I thought. It was just really confronting. I mean, you have those memories, and you think you’re okay with them, but when you have to actually sit down and write about them really vividly, you relive them in a way that you weren’t anticipating. It was harder than I thought it would be.


Rob:
Traumatic.


Rosie:
Yeah, it was, yeah. I think it was.


Rob:
Not to give away too much from the book, but yes, your childhood wasn’t conventional.


Rosie:
Yeah.


Rob:
Give us a snapshot of the young Rosie Waterland.


Rosie:
Both my parents were addicts. They both drank a lot. We, my sisters and I, were sort of sent to different foster homes and family members. We were shipped around a lot. There was a lot of dysfunction at home and through all of that, I guess, my sisters and I were just trying to get by and also be kids. I think that’s what I tried to do in the book; I tried to show that even though it’s set as this backdrop of dysfunction and a traumatic childhood, I also went through what everyone else went through, like, you know, I had crushes on boys and I got my first period and I was jealous of my older sister for being so beautiful. You still have to live the normal life things even when there’s chaos going on at home.


Rob:
Absolutely. Now, you mention that you grew up in housing commission.

Rosie:
Yeah.


Rob:
Was there a stigma attached to that, growing up?


Rosie:
Not that we knew of at the time. I mean, when we were kids, because we lived in one of Australia’s few housing commission exclusive-only areas; it wasn’t integrated into any other kind of private housing, so we knew that where we lived was called the ghetto. We knew that that’s what people called it, but I think we didn’t really get what that meant. It wasn’t until later when I grew up that I realized what it meant to have grown up somewhere like that.


Rob:
The title of the book, “The Anti-Cool Girl.”


Rosie:
Yeah.


Rob:
Why that?


Rosie:
I guess because a running theme throughout the book is that I spent my whole life trying to be cool, just trying really hard. My older sister was really cool. I was always a dweeb. I was like this little, freckle-faced kid with a helmet head haircut who loved reading, and I never quite got the cool kids, and I tried so hard my whole life to be cool, and then it was only after going through everything that I went through and learning all the lessons that I did, that I sort of got to my mid-20s and I thought, like, “Being cool just means trying too hard, and trying too hard is exhausting. I just want to stay home in my undies and drink wine and watch TV.” There isn’t anything wrong with that, I guess, and so that’s sort of the point that I got to.


Rob:
You reached the point of self-acceptance.


Rosie:
I think so, yeah, just like, “You know what? I’m anti-cool and that’s fine because that means I can just have a really unnatural, unhealthy relationship with television and not care about it.”


Rob:
You like TV and pop culture. What do you like? What do you currently like?


Rosie:
On TV? Oh, my gosh. I’m obsessed with a show called “UnReal,” which, I guess, because of what I write about “The Bachelor,” “UnReal” is a show that’s sort of a fictional show based around the people who produce “The Bachelor” in the US, so I love that show. Any kind of comedies. I love “Broad City.” That’s a great show produced by Amy Poehler. “Difficult People” is a great new show. Just anything funny about people who are kind of dweeby, I guess.


Rob:
What about authors and books? Who do you like?


Rosie:

I’m actually just finished reading Richard Glover’s memoir about his childhood. We keep joking with each other that we have competing difficult childhood memoirs coming out. His memoir is incredible. I also recently read Jenny Lawson’s book. What’s it called? Her first memoir. I forget. Something about a squirrel. Anyway, Jenny Lawson is this incredible writer, who a lot of people said reminded them of a lot of me, and so I read her memoir and it’s brilliant, and she’s got a new book coming out. I recommend everybody read her first book before her new book comes out; it’s so great.

Rob:
What was university like for you?


Rosie:
The first time around, I had a false start, so I went to USYD and was studying psychology and lasted about a month. I hated it. Then I took a few years off, went to drama school, and then I think I was ready for uni when I was a bit older, so I went to UTS and I studied writing and cultural studies. I really loved it. We got to do screenwriting, we got to do creative nonfiction. It was just the first time I got to explore my skills as a writer in a more kind of vocational context. I’d never done that before, so I really loved it.


Rob:
One of the things I found interesting about the book is that you don’t ignore mental illness; in fact, you embrace it.


Rosie:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.


Rob:
What’s your relationship with mental illness? Tell me about the history or-


Rosie:
Yeah, well, I mean, after going through, I guess, my life, in my early 20s, PTSD hit pretty hard, so I dealt with that for a few years. I had a couple suicide attempts, I had an eating disorder. I think people who’ve had childhoods like mine tend to really struggle with that trauma later. A huge part of my 20s, I mean, I’m 29 now, but a huge part of my early 20s was just going to therapy and working really, really hard. Trauma is incredibly difficult to work through. I embrace it, and I talk about it openly because it’s just what happened to me and it happens to a lot of people, and I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m on medication now, that I see a therapist once a week, and I probably always will, but that’s just how I have to live my life.


Rob:
We do what we can to hope, don’t we?


Rosie:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think I’ve gotten to a point now where I have a system worked out where I handle it really well. My PTSD is, I’ve largely recovered from that. I still get anxiety, though, and that’s just something I have to deal with. I think especially with anxiety, it’s something that never quite goes away; you just learn how to deal with it better. That comes with age and time. I love how I’m 29; I’m like, “That comes with age.” Like I’m so old.


Rob:
The big 30.


Rosie:
The big 3-0, yeah.


Rob:
How do you think things will change for you then, or will they?


Rosie:

I don’t know if they will. I feel like, I think everybody thinks this. I just still feel 17 all the time. I still feel like a kid, so I don’t know if it’ll change, but I love that I’ve at least written a book. I’m like, “Okay, well at least on my 30th birthday, I’ve accomplished one big thing.” I’m not married, don’t have kids, but I have a really cool job and I’ve written a book, so doing okay.

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Rob:
Obviously the book’s an amazing achievement and I highly recommend the book for anyone, and I think especially for uni students in their late teens and 20s sort of grappling with life, but before the book was written, how did you end up writing for Mamamia and writing about “The Bachelor?”


Rosie:
I graduated my writing degree from UTS and then like most people who graduate writing degrees, I was like, “What do I do now?” because I didn’t study journalism, I studied creative writing. I just kind of started a blog and started sending them some stuff, and they started publishing it, and then they offered me a job as an editorial assistant and I just sort of slowly worked my way up to editor and then when “The Bachelor” started in season one, I said to them, “You have to let me write about this,” like, “I promise I can make it funny.” They were like, “No, that show’s gross, we don’t want to write about it,” and I was like, “No. I will make it funny. Please let me.” 


They let me do it but at home in my own time because they didn’t trust that it would work, and after a few weeks it had sort of gotten such a following that they were like, “Okay, you can watch it and do it at work now.” Season one was pretty big, season two became huge, and now this season, it’s just out of this world. I don’t even understand it. Like, people come up to me in the supermarket. It’s crazy but exciting. It’s fun. It’s fun to write about.


Rob:
Last year, there was amazing stuff going on in the news with “The Bachelor,” so that must have been an absolute blessing.


Rosie:
I mean, in a way, but I never write about the gossip of it. I largely just write satire about the show, and when … what was his name?


Rob:
Blake.


Rosie:
I can’t even remember his name! Blake! When Blake left the girl for the other girl and it was this whole thing, and people were like, “Please, tell us what you think about this,” and I was like, “Nah, leave the gossip to entertainment reporters. I’ll just write about the silly TV show,” so yeah, that’s sort of what I-


Rob:
Have you met any of the people you’ve written about?


Rosie:

In the first season, I did. I met the final few girls, and I met the bachelor, but then last year I just decided to put up a bit of a Chinese wall, like it felt easier to write the satire if I hadn’t met them because it’s largely fantasy. What I write about all of them is not, none of it’s true, like I say that some of them shed their skin and become crazy pube monsters, and I just write all this ridiculous stuff. I think it’s just easier to not really know anything about what their personalities actually are because I just give each of them a character and go with it. I think it’s all in good fun, though, like I’ve had a lot of them contact me on social media and just say that they think it’s so funny and they love what I wrote, and so I think everybody appreciates that it’s all done with affection.

Rob:
What would you say to the nine-year-old Rosie Waterland, if you could say anything now?


Rosie:
I would say, “Just keep doing what you’re doing, man.” Back then, I knew I was going to be something better than what my childhood had offered, and I loved writing, I loved TV, I loved being creative, and I think I would just say, “Man, it’s going to be shit for a while, but just stick it out because one day you’ll be doing interviews about your first book, which is just nuts,” so that’s what I’d say.
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