Oh good heavens, day 1 and am I tired.
It was a whirlwind weekend with a wedding and various wedding related celebrations and the attempt to pack a bag that does not want to take on pairs of shoes, two saris and related accoutrements and another trenchcoat.
“Do you think this fellowship will be useful?” my mother asks, as I decide where the notebooks will go: main bag, carry on bag or laptop bag?
I look at her. I know what she means – Sedition took twelve years to write because I also had to live and it ended up on the back burner a lot and even after finishing it, I don’t know if I know how to write a novel length story even though apparently I can edit them like no one else can. I am good at being objective and the subjective viewpoint overwhelms me.
“I don’t know.” I say honestly. “But I think it is worth trying and I am just going to try to get the words out and worry about them making sense later when they are out. I mean, I might go there and find out that this doesn’t work for me. It works for lots of others though.”
She nods. On the way to the airport, she muses. “I feel sorry that you have to work so hard. That it is such a struggle.”
She means my work as a freelance journalist and editor. I shrug. “Sometimes, I don’t know if I am actually working hard enough or not. That is always hard to tell.”
“Because you work alone.”
“Yes. Because also I am my own accounts and tax department, I am my own marketing and sales department.”
“When will you find out about the book?”
She means Sedition, currently entered into the KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award in the hopes that someone likes it enough that I can get a mentor to help me with it. I don’t think it will win though. The longlist comes out on June 8th so I tell my mother this.
I run into relatives of family friends at the airport. I have an article to work on before KSP starts but I sit and chat to them. They are impressed that I work for myself and that I am 35 not the young twenty something they thought I was. I don’t tell them about KSP in detail – it’s already confusing enough to say yes I was in Perth but now am in Melbourne and that I am en route to Perth first for work before heading back to Melbourne.
KSP is work though. Creative writing is also my work. One with a long pay off though as I tell fellow writers Nikki Mottram and Alison Thompson the night of Day 1 and we all nod in commiseration. They are here for two weeks, I am here for one.
I wander briefly through Changi Airport, almost like home now this damn place, and head toward the gate for my flight to Perth. I wanted to work on the plane but I got on my first plane at 1 am Monday morning and twelve hours later I am still in the air. I get a quick nap in before I land.
I think of the acknowledgements section in books. Daniel my driver is the most patient and supportive as he waits for me to grab food for the week at Coles before heading out to KSP and taking a leap of faith in driving down the gravel driveway never knowing if he would ever get the car back up again. Small acts of kindness are what keep people going and I value them greatly – these are the acts most often done without any expectations and out of complete generosity.
I am in the last cabin, Phillips. I get in the door and breathe a sigh of relief. There is chocolate on the bed and I am starving. Another small kindness from the KSP staff. Day 1 and I am here. And there are hours left in the day.
In a way I am home. Home because I am in Perth, a place I have lived in for 14 years though very few know that I am here right now. Home, because I have now learnt to carry my home with me wherever I am like a snail and frankly there is a heater, food and a bed and so this is home and there is a genus of snail named Marisa so you know, it fits. I don’t think my mother was thinking of that when she named me though.
Home because this place is meant to birth some words for me. I look at my stomach. My hormones are out of whack again and I have a bit of a belly now and the period is non-existent so I say to myself I am pregnant with book. When it is done, it will disappear. As it grows on the page, my stomach will shrink. It did this for Sedition, it will do it for Gin & Tonic.
Nikki comes and knocks on my door. She watches as I, scatterbrained as I am, turn in circles looking for my coat and find it in the wardrobe. There is a platter for us in the fridge and champagne too but we leave the champagne for another day and dip into cheese and crackers and bread on day 1 and talk about our lives and our ideas and what we hope will happen. The other two have kids, I don’t. Alison is working on poetry, Nikki on what sounds like the most creepiest thriller ever and I say “how the hell am I going to get two teenage sisters close enough and involved enough in major crimes like murder etc?”
Back in my cabin, Whatsapp is lighting up as I tell friends, family friends and my sister and mother that I am here and this is what it looks like. My partner messages me: “Welcome home, beautiful.” Then he calls me: “Do you want me to call you?” he asks. It takes a moment and I am grateful that sometimes there is some mind reading that occurs. “No.” I say. I haven’t seen him in weeks. “No. I will call you when I know I am done for the day.”
I look at my notes for my article. It has to be done before anything else starts. I get out a marker and scribble on the whiteboard a plan of sorts for the week:
- Monday – Day 1: 0 words.
- Tuesday – Day 2: 1,666 words – 1,666 total.
- Wednesday – Day 3: 1,666 words – 3,332 total.
- Thursday – Day 4: 1,666 words – 4,998 total.
- Friday – Day 5: 1,666 words – 6,664 total.
- Saturday – Day 6: 1,666 words – 8,330 total.
- Sunday – Day 7: 1,666 words – 9,996 total.
I already have 3000 odd words I wrote before I got to KSP. I want to add at least 10,000 to that and finish the manuscript before I get to Varuna at the end of July so I can show it to people and work on it.
But I gave myself Monday off which was good because I stared at my article notes and then accidentally fell asleep in the middle of it all. So Day 1 had no words. I kind of suspected that would be the case.
FINAL WORDCOUNT: 0
SMALL ACTS OF KINDNESS: too many to count.