Writing at the River - 2014
My puppy Cino and I are sitting in the spare bedroom upstairs overlooking the Shoalhaven River. This is the first time she has been allowed into this room for months. In her early weeks with us, and after she mastered the stairs – she thought ‘upstairs’ was a toilet area, and I found several tidy little piles of poo, which necessitated in Gerald installing a baby gate at the top of the stairs. Since then she has gazed through its bars longingly, resigned to being separated from me whenever I venture up here. So she cannot believe her luck today to be actually in here with me, and is lying on a knitted rug my grandmother made for me thirty years ago.
Gerald has gone travelling to the United States for 2.5 weeks, and before he left, he moved my computer up here for me, on a small white picnic table for me to write.
I had no trouble writing in Africa. Every day I wrote, effortlessly, lengthily, passionately. I poured out my heart every day, a couple of hundred hours of writing – what I was seeing, who we met, the profound effect Africa had on my heart, and was at times pissed off to have to leave my computer to participate in the very things I was writing about. I imagined myself, sitting there in the bush, surrounded by animals and the smells of Africa, writing for a year or six.
So to get back into that place, I have been reading my previous posts from Africa. I thought “Who was that woman who wrote this?” The person who wrote these stories moved me to tears at her experience her insights and fears and joys and love and humour were right there on the page.
Today I also saw for the first time many touching comments from friends who had read them, and felt a flash of surprise, a joy of knowing many others too, are moved to tears and touched by the stories I have told. Perhaps this is a gift, and one which I could share.
Gerald tells me to write. Writers can write anywhere – right? – at the kitchen table, in airports, between nappy changes – and many do. Joshua tells me to write, and he tells me I am good – however that blogs are supposed to be short, not the tomes I write. A one or two minute kind of instant gratifier for busy people in the world to dip their toe into, momentarily.
I find I cannot write dealing with the minutinae of life – fielding phone calls and emails, coaching and making meals, dental appointments, Gerald asking questions or making comments doing laundry and walking the dog. The ‘space’ must be right. This could be an excuse. But I remember when Josh was seven years old, and Gerald and I were separated, I wrote. I wrote a lot and I wrote late at night, after work was done, dinner was over, and Josh was asleep in bed, in a small room in a small flat, fuelled with cigarettes and wine. It was a quiet undemanding space, dark, silent and just me and my words. Over some years, I sold those articles to a magazine for money which surprised me. To be paid to be doing something I found so easy and so much fun seemed odd. I got letters from the editor where he acknowledged me and told me how funny I was, that I had ‘talent’ – and he took me to a few expensive lunches and introduced me to his colleagues with obvious delight, ‘his new writing girl’.
So this is my tentative start back – or possibly forward – into writing. I know that the trick for a writer is to write. To write about something – anything! – to form a habit and create an environment where it is impossible not to write.
So I am writing.