I showered, got dressed and put on makeup in silence, the boys gripped by the glow of Sunday morning cartoons. I left the breakfast mess with Mr Karen, blew a fistful of kisses and caught the early train to Melbourne.
Sitting on the train, I felt vague and giddy, like a teenager going to their first school dance. Would I look out of place? Will I stick out as a mummy who rarely leaves the house? Then I reminded myself that I’m a 31 year old woman, and I should just get over myself.
I turned my iPod to shuffle, looking for some insight from the roulette spin of my CD collection. Some people do it with the Bible (Bible dipping): I do it with the iPod.
Sparrows swerved and spiralled in the grey sky, and I began to feel light. I melted into the seat, pulled out my notebook and went to town.
I saw two sessions in the morning. I expected to be, if not blown away, then at least a little worked up by the end. It didn’t happen. Nothing was said that I couldn’t have read in a writing book. None of my sessions covered technique, or process. No-one wowed me.
The overall message I took home from the festival was that all writers are, to a certain extent, emerging. More significantly, I realised that writers are just people. The best writers are people who refine their work, and make time to write everyday. They are persistent and thick skinned. They are patient.
As Fiona Harris writes in The Victorian Writer (May-June 2011 edition): “Part of me thinks that I will always feel like an emerging writer, simply because part of the joy of writing is the constant creative challenge. … The thing that propels me forward … is the certainty that writing is something I love to do.”
Travelling home on the train, I saw a family with 2 young daughters, an orange helium balloon tied to each of their wrists. The balloons bobbed about the carriage, constantly pulling on thick, white twine: full of air, cheerful and lofty. I couldn’t help but think that by tomorrow those balloons will sink to the ground.
My thoughts then turned to the sparrows I’d seen from the morning’s train, swooping and spiralling. If I want my writing dream to fly – not just float – it needs wings. Wings that beat over and over, and in that repetition, grow dynamic, deft and dexterous. To be a writer, I need to write, read, and rewrite, day after day. It’s that simple, and that hard.
Time to stop talking about writing, and just write.
Are you a Bible dipper or an iPod shuffler? When you’re nervous or excited, how do you contain yourself? … Perhaps I should get out more.