Tag Archives: writing

Making the whole trip

I made two commitments to myself today – to go for a swim and to write for an hour.

So, there I was at the beach this morning after a swim, scribbling in my little notebook.

The swim was a challenge – every day this week it’s been about 30 degrees by 8.30am; today it’s only 22 degrees and overcast. But one of my life mottos is you never regret a swim, and I didn’t.

A flat, calm ocean – perhaps a little murky and “sharky” – didn’t put off swimmers, kayakers, hundreds of nippers, old blokes, young blokes, old gals, young gals, people frolicking about like me or those putting in serious strokes.

I’m at Port Beach, close to Fremantle, and I’ve never swum here before. But it’s a Western Australian beach and therefore wild and beautiful.  This is despite – or maybe even because of – its proximity to the Port of Fremantle and its backdrop of sea containers stacked up like multi-coloured bricks. Container ships idle in the distance off the coast and on a clear day you can see the island of Rottnest 18 kilometres off the coast. Today it merges with the horizon.

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Today is the first day of my writing challenge – to write for an hour a day for a month – and it being February I have a few days less to commit to.

Yesterday I went to a writing masterclass with the writer and comedian Catherine Deveny, who threw down this challenge and I’ve taken it up because I want this year to be about getting back to normal and moving forward after the horrors of the past year. Moving forward. Getting on with life after the stagnation and feeling of being in suspension of the most fucked year of my life.

Breast cancer, metastasised; broken kneecap; then more metastases to my freaking brain; chemo; radiation, to my spine and to my boob; surgery on my knee; surgery on my brain, and then again because the wound got infected. Every time some new shit appeared, I thought – ok, this is it now, this is the last of the shit. But each time I was wrong. It felt like every time I got back up, someone would come and pull the rug out from under me and I would come crashing down again.

Not now though. It’s a new year – 2015! I’ve got a writing challenge (note I didn’t say publishing challenge), I’m moving ahead, living in the now with an eye to the future.

E.L Doctorow said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” I would say that life is like that too, you just have to keep going even when you can only see a few steps in front of you.

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Just a little light reading for you

Totally off-topic (what, this blog has a topic?), I thought I’d share a few little pieces I wrote for one of my uni classes. I’m actually withdrawing from the subject, to be completed at another time. But I’m a writer (apparently) and I need an audience apart from my lecturer, so, would you like to read them?

They are little vignettes of a place and a face. Here you go:

BBQ King, Chinatown 

“You like Coke? Coca-Cola? Coca-Cola?” three waiters in red polo shirts chime in rounds to a well-dressed Asian lady. She rummages in her – possibly fake – Louis Vuitton handbag for her phone. She nods. It’s all she orders.

The waiters hover around the utilitarian front counter, and idle round the formica tables and vinyl and metal chairs. Behind the counter, a two-tier fish tank holds crouching lobsters. They are listless, as if resigned to their fate. Do they know? Or is that just what lobsters do?  

Two Aussie blokes in the window are getting busy with the Peking duck, gesticulating with chopsticks. Their conversation is punctuated by shouts of laughter. A waiter brings plate of rice with a peg inexplicably attached to it.

On the walls, the obligatory landscape of the Great Wall, a scroll of Chinese characters – what, no commemorative print of Tiananmen Square? An 80s fashion shot shows leggy pan-Asian beauties leaning up against – yes – the fish tank, its occupants long since digested.

Inner west ticket ninja

The light rail ninja conductor stands to attention before each commuter, brandishing his ticket machine.

“Yes, are you ok?” he says in a sub-Continental accent. “Yes, $4.50 please.”

He taps his machine, writes a hieroglyph on the flimsy paper, presents it with a flourish.

Slight, but slightly paunchy, he’s middle-aged, whatever that means these days. He looks like he takes his job seriously. It’s not a very busy tram, this one, only about 12 passengers, and stops go by and no-one get on – nothing to do. But when they do get on, he’s there at their side.

With a brisk but kindly air he asks again, “Yes, are you ok?”

He’s on to every passenger, alert, attentive, polite. He doesn’t even insist on payment when an elderly Asian lady gives him an expired ticket.

Doors open; doors close; no-one gets on. He sits down because why not? You can’t stand your whole shift.

We arrive at Rozelle Bay, my stop, I’m off. 

 

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