I’m packing for four days in Sydney. It’s a holiday with an old mate, and a moment to research a new story as well as time to edit and write. I’m getting better at this. That is, taking time for what I need.
Two years ago I had only been away from my family for a total of three weekends. In the last two years I have been away for five writers retreats. I now toss my bag together the night before and walk out the door.
These times away are becoming an important part of my practice. It’s time I can dedicate my mind to thinking story and character and allow ideas to grow. Not only does it make me a better writer, but it also makes me a better mum and wife. I come home refreshed (and tired). I come home ready to spend time with them.
As I pack I’m tempted to throw every book I might want, but I now know that I don’t need to. I’m taking what is relevant right now. I have a notebook to scribble in when we are out and about, Watkin Tench’s book 1788, Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, and my current read The Forrests by Emily Perkins. Probably before morning I’ll through another book in.
Sometimes taking less is more. More space to think. I’m planning to stand where Anne, my First Fleet convict ancestor stood and imagine what was going through her mind as she gripped her swelling belly, father long gone already. As she stared at the strange wilderness surrounding her, trapping her. As she stared at the light glinting off the harbour water that would one day swallow her. I hope to feel her in some tiny space there and let her whisper to me.