Wednesday 26th August 2015
Today was a very typical day for me. I thought about writing, I hoped to maybe catch a moment to scrawl something down, but in the end, I did not write. More often than not, the needs of three young children expand to fill the day. Despite this, my mind continually floats back to the novel I’m writing – a sense of atmosphere, a new level of understanding of a character or an idea, some detail I must include – but then it is yanked sharply back to the immediate, physical world I also inhabit. By the evening, I feel drained and empty. I need to fill up, to escape. There is nothing left to give to my writing. I sketch in my notebook, watch Mad Men on Netflix, drink some tea, read a few pages of Patti Smith’s Just Kids. The lives of the young artists in New York are in stark contrast to my own, but still I don’t envy their freedom. I am happy with my life, despite the frustrations. Tomorrow, I will write.
Thursday 27th August 2015
Today was a productive day for me. I spent two and a half hours working on my novel, while my youngest was at 3-year old Kindy. I’ve found it’s the perfect length of time for some concentrated, focused writing. I take a tiny break half way through to stretch my legs and take in some fresh air. Sometimes I run an errand, but my favourite place to go is the beach. The expanse of the ocean makes me feel centred and calm, and ready to go back to my work. I usually write in cafes because I like the noise and to be surrounded by people - also good coffee is essential! At home, I find myself distracted by the piles of washing, the crumb-speckled floors, and all the other chores that can easily fill a precious few hours.
I’m 50,000-words into my novel and my pace has slowed lately. I’m digging deeper into the ideas that the novel explores, and trying to understand my characters and their psychological motivations more fully. I’m reading a fascinating book on psychology and writing, and I intersperse my writing sessions with reading a chapter. The scenes I’m currently developing are very intense, and I’m forcing myself to revisit the darkest of times in my own life to express what my characters are enduring. It can be painful to get the right words onto the page, but even more so, to access the emotional depths necessary to breathe life into your characters.
Friday 28th August 2015
I have to heavily guard the time I carve out to write because it is so easily lost, but today I sacrificed my writing morning to help out in my eldest son’s class. Another love of mine is ceramics and I am helping the 5- and 6-year olds to make eggcups from clay. They are so sweet and I find it fascinating to observe the different ways they approach the project: some wait for instruction, some observe and then quickly figure it out for themselves, others go off on a limb to create their own design. When my children were really little and all at home with me, I went through a stage of feeling extremely frustrated, but I came to realise that our days could be filled with creativity, even if I wasn’t able to write as often as I’d like to. We spent the hours making, reading, cooking and playing, and I tried to celebrate this and document it through my blog. I came to the realisation that all creativity is linked and everything feeds into everything else. I find cooking incredibly relaxing and creative, and I often have moments of clarity about my writing when I am busy in the kitchen. I believe the important thing is just to throw yourself into whatever you are doing, approach life with a creative mindset, and above all, don’t panic about creating. Panic is definitely the enemy of creativity!
Saturday 29th August 2015
Today we drove out of suburbia and into the rural surroundings to drop off three roosters that we couldn’t keep in our tiny garden (we have five hens). The landscape alters quite suddenly and I am always surprised by how different it is only twenty minutes away. The children scream out: “cows, sheep, horses, kangaroos!” I feel a strong connection to the landscape of Western Australia, even though I spent most of my childhood and early twenties in the UK. I have a theory that there is some deeply ingrained memory of the colours and smells and sounds and scale of this place from the first three-years of my life. Place and belonging are the major themes of my novel and preoccupy my thoughts. It can be hard writing about a landscape that you are not immersed in, and so I try to soak in as much as I can: the light moving between the trees, the pelicans silhouetted against the stormy sky, the beehives gathered in the front paddock of a property we visit, the majestic way the kangaroos hold their heads, their forms blending in and out of the landscape. I wonder why it is that this place, so far away from the land I should call home, has such a pull on me. I think about my plan to get away and spend a few days in the forests of the south-west, where my novel is set.
Sunday 30th August 2015
Sunday is often the busiest day. Long gone are those lazy mornings in bed, eating toast and reading the paper, followed by a meander around the markets and a pub lunch. Despite this, we started the day slowly and I crept off to drink my coffee in the sunshine and write down a few observations in my notebook. I can feel the frustration building over the need for a decent stretch of time to write. I try to gather emotions, ideas, and images, so that when I do finally have a few hours to work, I’m bursting with inspiration. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The worst thing is feeling unmotivated and uninspired in the sacred time allocated to writing. If this happens, I either force myself to write, beginning with notes that frequently become prose, or I read something relevant or plan scenes. Writing is hard – it feels like you are creating a whole world from nothing - but it is also thrilling. I found an old postcard recently, which featured a quotation from the playwright, Gill Adams, and it rang true for me:
“Writing is not a job nor a hobby. It's an addiction without a cure.”