The Melbourne Writer’s Festival is running a competition to select five bloggers who will be given free festival passes if they can attend and blog about ten sessions. So confession time: I’ve never been to a writer’s festival. It seems unconscionable, unforgivable even. But here’s the thing: it’s taken me until now (36 years old, two kids, phd student, two very small publications in the works) to call myself a writer and not cringe or expect to be shouted down by random passers by. And if you’re not a writer, how can you possibly go to a festival for writers? I entered the competition. MWF asked us to write 200-500 words on the theme ‘Stories Unbound’. I’m posting my entry below. And hoping that I’m selected. And wondering in a vague sort of way how to manage a seven month old at the MWF, but trusting that it’ll be ok.
Here’s my entry:
I am writing this in a car, on my phone. I have a notebook in the nappy bag, but I know it will be hard to find the time to type up longhand notes later, so I tap the touchscreen and keep an eye on the autocorrect – it keeps trying to corral me. Apostrophes appear where they shouldn’t be (it only understands possessives) and it’s determined to turn my eses into zeds.
My baby is asleep, for now. He is seven months old and thinks sunlight is a solid thing that he can catch, and eat, and hold. The car park we are sitting in is filling up around us and people are moving places. It’s almost a given that the only long day sleeps my baby will have are when I need to be somewhere. Otherwise he catnaps. He bursts from sleep exactly as my eyes droop. I struggle up from the drowse and keep going. And in amongst it (the loving and the shopping and the walking and the cleaning and the ache that is me being pulled in two) I write.
I write in snatches. I steal time. I remember the luxury of not writing, because there was always plenty of time to do it later. When I can’t write I speak into the voice recorder on my phone to catch at stories and snatches of poetry. Later when I transcribe my voice I will hear birds and wind and the grinding pump of the sewerage works underneath my words. We walk, my baby and me. It’s the best way for him to sleep in the day and I crave the outness of it. There are other women on the creek path pushing prams and running to catch up with helmeted children on bikes and we give each other rueful smiles.
Walking, stories rise up from cement to meet me. For five days there is a drowned and headless cat on the path, and I look and don’t look. It is black, and bloated, and sprawled. I try to imagine it being a loved thing but all I can see is the gaping rawness of its neck. I can’t bring myself to do anything about it. Then it’s gone. Then for a week it’s just me and the baby and an uneventful path (except for the three barking Pomeranians that wake him on Monday). On Tuesday I see a man in a tracksuit leading a woman along by her hand and he is holding that hand so tightly that when I look at her fingers I see they are purply white. And then on Wednesday, a pink pashmina hanging over a bare willow branch. Like a flag, like a streamer, like a story unbound.
This is where I find stories, at the edge of a wintery creek. I capture them carefully. I lay them down with respect. I walk. I speak. I write.
- A True Writer’s Epiphany (forjenssake.wordpress.com)
- The Secret Life of Bees, errrr, Writers (bethtrissel.wordpress.com)
- Free Writing Session 1: Because I have no better title for this (starryparasol.wordpress.com)
- Write For Yourself (diamondpublicationz.wordpress.com)
- How To Break Writing Habits Even If You’re Not A Writer (nfaa.wordpress.com)
- To Write, Be a Bird: Not a Balloon (therhythmmethod.wordpress.com)