Writing is a funny thing. I caught up with a high school friend this week, and she said she was surprised I hadn’t published at least one novel. “What happened?” she asked. I bumbled through a response. Could have been the college room joint in the second week of first year of university that seemed to separate my mind from my body and myself from literature. Could have been the horror of walking into the Ballieu Library in Melbourne University and confronting the forest of words about words about words about words about a book that somebody wrote. Once. Was it the way I passed myself off as, or acted the part of, a writer: a black notebook; a fountain pen; a constitution that could withstand gallons of whiskey and black coffee, a ton of cigarettes, a legion of lovers and hour after hour of public philosophising. Kinda hard to stay fresh with all that going on. Could have been the great “first novel”, a straight transcript of interesting times hurriedly printed and submitted to The Vogel. The kind of draft I call a mere typing exercise. I remember my mother sitting up in bed and saying: “You’re not writing one of those grunge novels are you?” Busted. I know Henry Miller wrote books he didn’t want his mother to read, and that it troubled even him. But he was good.
After the sorry excuses I reassured my friend. My novels are lining up at the gate. There may be one or two scruffy little plays in the line-up. A few brumby-like poems that bust out of nowhere and bust back into nowhere. I have my prescription: 500 words a day, at the same time every day. And not necessarily on this blog. I can tell writing is about to start because I have been indulging in a frenzy of indulgence and overcommitment: buying two shopfronts and a studio with planning permission for residential conversion, making the stock myself, attachment parenting the five month old and home-schooling the eight year old, swearing to attend more festivals with my singing dancing husband, playing hairdresser and manicurist to the booming spring garden, activating old friendships and nurturing the current ones, attending personal development workshops.
Then again, taking up writing is a bit like giving up drinking. Feels amazing for a bit, then gets harder and a little bit boring… and then every person, place or thing on the planet seems to conspire against the resolve.
My high school friend is a wine chemist and seems to be one of my few friends who still loves a sparkler. She sent me away with an exquisite bottle from a small Tasmanian winery and I drank it last night with a couple of Albury friends. I’m going to think of it as the magnum that launched the ship that is my commitment to right proper thought out insightful sustained funny terrible good eloquent properly punctuated real writing on paper that someone else will pay for.
(Word count 500)