Starting

 

The daily task–start writing because I promised myself I would after the short course about writing I joined recently. I’ve started twice—you see that above—in the last five days, which ranks as about a C-minus if anybody is keeping score. The teacher said just get on with it; write about anything; and after a while you will start moving towards topics, genres, forms that satisfy: you will develop your original voice if you have one, but only if you keep writing.

It’s plausible, and I’m not seized with a different theory, so, as I’m sure is obvious, this is an unfiltered, unedited burp of language. How my magnus opus might emerge is not at all obvious to me, but the half day course wasn’t cheap, so why not—I haven’t got a better plan. All I have is a need to write. I have no firm idea about the content, or the audience. I do like long-form journalism, and short stories, both done so well in the ‘New Yorker’, in which I luxuriate every couple of weeks. (yes, I know it’s weekly; mine is mailed from the US and arrives erratically) But I met people in the course who have moved well away from where they started—to fiction from non-fiction, from poetry to short stories, from a memoir to children’s stories.

Last year, I sent a more-or-less weekly email of about 750 words to my family and friends, while my partner and I lived in Bali. It was hugely enjoyable, especially, I confess, when I got praise and encouragement from my little audience. I tried to capture the experiences of being a tourist, of gradually becoming an expat resident. Describing as best I could many of the Balinese cultural, family and community activities and attitudes. Re-telling stories about Balinese life I heard from long term expats, and sketching the personalities of people we mixed with. Hoping I could give a glimpse of the sense of magic I felt, and of the timeless cycles of life in the rice fields and villages.

So I’ve come back to Australia with this sense that I have a new opportunity with writing. I think I have some ability, and I have time. I have acres of time. So much free time that it scares me. Most days, if I wanted to, I could sit down and try to write for a couple of hours. That’s not likely, for now at least, because other activities attract me more, but maybe this will start to hook me in—no way to know just yet. So, new announcement to self! I will do this short writing thing five days a week for another month. That’s about 20 pieces of about 500 words—10,000 words. Impressive. Scary. Today counts as number one—only 19 to go. I do better with targets that have numbers in them. This sounds like a plan.

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