Max Olijnyk is a Wordsmith

Earlier this year I took a course at the Good Copy (a writing studio in Collingwood, Australia) to help me write good and that. Called ‘Stop. Grammar Time.’ the class helped me understand just how bad my writing was and where the typos and grammar errors would be lurking. One half of the teaching duo was the charming Max Olijnyk. It wasn’t long into the course that I realised I had been a fan of Max’s writing in Vice, The Age and Broadsheet for years. When we got chatting and he mentioned he had recently became a Father to Fred, then I knew I had to profile him. He is a writer, photographer, designer, skater and just a nice dude. Meet Max.”
— Lach
"They just seem to always be either: boring and beaten down, as if they’ve given up; or gleefully happy, as if they have been drugged. I suppose that was part of my anxiety leading into this. Am I going to become one of them now? Am I already like that and don’t realise it?" Max Olijnyk 

"They just seem to always be either: boring and beaten down, as if they’ve given up; or gleefully happy, as if they have been drugged. I suppose that was part of my anxiety leading into this. Am I going to become one of them now? Am I already like that and don’t realise it?" Max Olijnyk 

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

It wasn’t exactly a surprise because we had made the decision to start ‘trying’, but it happened really soon after that decision had been made. I was more excited than I thought I would be, but it felt quite unreal.

What has fatherhood taught you?

I’m not sure yet.

What is the most challenging part so far?

Trying to work when I can hear Fred playing in the next room.

What HAS BEEN the most rewarding part of becoming a Father?

I think it is in the way Fred responds to my presence. Making him laugh feels really nice.

Do you have a fatherhood philosophy?

No.

What does having kid make you think differently about?

It forces me to reconsider all my selfish thoughts. It doesn’t stop them; it just makes them seem more ridiculous.

What do you miss most about the time before you were a Father?

I suppose just not really being accountable. I miss going to the movies too. 

What did you find tricky about your partner's pregnancy?

No matter how many books I pretended to read or reality shows we watched, I found it difficult to imagine what it was going to be like to have a baby. Rosie was completely absorbed by it. I was more absorbed in making the most of my ‘freedom’ before this life-changing thing happened. I became more anxious about it as the due date grew closer and I’m afraid I wasn’t very supportive.

What sources of information did you use to get you through thAT time?

I spoke to a few of my friends who have had kids. They didn’t really have any advice for me apart from to just go with it. We attended a birthing class, which I was quite sceptical about but ended up being quite enjoyable. It was good to do something together and it made the prospect of the birth experience more of a real thing in my mind.

How was the experience of the birth as an onlooker?

It was a really emotional, intense experience. Things changed very quickly and our birth plan went out the window when Rosie had to have an emergency C-section under general anaesthetic. I met Fred before she did. I really liked him as soon as I saw him; he already had so much character. I followed him around and then got to hold him on my chest for an hour or so before Rosie came back from surgery. I wrote about it here 

Describe the feelings OF those first few days at home with a new baby...

They were both in the hospital for the first week. That was pretty weird, but quite good because the nurses could show us how to do things properly, so by the time we got Fred home we were old hands at parenting. Ha! I felt strange. A mix of everything. Rosie took to the whole thing with great grace and happiness, which is/was very impressive to me. One of the nice things I remember from those first few days was dancing with Fred while listening to music. It was a beautiful feeling and I still do that quite a bit, even though he is a lot heavier now.

So how did you became a writer? 

I’ve been good at writing since I was a kid. I remember getting knowing I was doing something good with my time, like I was connected to energy when I was writing. I still get that sometimes, and that’s when I know I’m writing well. I’ve always made my own zines and stuff, but I only started getting paid to write when I was in my late twenties. I studied journalism at university, which taught me a bit. Working has taught me the most.

NOW YOU ARE A FATHER, What is your writing process?

I’m still getting used to it. I’m finding it difficult to find the right headspace to write well when I’m at home. It’s tricky.

What influences and inspires your writing?

I get most of my inspiration from my friends and things that happen to me. If a story makes people laugh when I tell it, then I know it might be worth writing about. A few writers who do a similar kind of thing to what I hope to do are Jon Ronson, John Jeremiah Sullivan and David Sedaris. I suppose it is creative non-fiction. I’m also very inspired by comedians like Louis CK, Sean Micallef and Stewart Lee. I’ve always been influenced and inspired by skateboarding, of course.

What role will story telling play in how you raise your kids?

A huge part, I hope. We read to Fred all the time and he loves it.

How will you look to encourage Fred’s creativity?

I will give him lots of love and encouragement when he shows enthusiasm for anything.

What are your strongest memories of your Father?

I used to love it when he told us ‘candle stories’, which were true accounts of stuff he got up to with his mates before I was born, mainly around our shack on the Yorke Peninsula. I think they showed me that even when you get into an intense situation, you can get out of it and find humour in there. And that crazy things can happen to you and you will still be you within those desperate moments. That’s very comforting, I think. Man I loved those stories. My favourite was Stingray Rock.

Do you think he did a good job?

Yes.

How do you want your kids to remember you?

I don’t know. Fondly?

What do you think of Fathers today?

I don’t really think about them. I probably should think about them more. They just seem to always be either: boring and beaten down, as if they’ve given up; or gleefully happy, as if they have been drugged. I suppose that was part of my anxiety leading into this. Am I going to become one of them now? Am I already like that and don’t realise it?

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should aim to achieve?

I don’t care what anyone else does, but I want to be someone Fred feels comfortable talking to. I would like for us to make each other laugh a lot.

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