Hello again. Well, I’ve had to set myself a new deadline for finishing the memoir. I normally love working to a deadline – and it’s rare that I’m unable to meet one – but I just can’t get there. Not this time. It’s been four weeks since I returned from Bundanon, and adjusting back to the demands of the real world has been rather challenging (to say the least). I’ve been negotiating a property settlement and preparing for a divorce. More excuses! I hear you say, but the stress of going through that process completely overwhelmed me. In Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert mentions a friend who likens the experience of divorce to ‘having a really bad car accident every single day for about two years.’ It hasn’t been that bad for me, mostly, but over the last month it felt like I had several minor car accidents each week – accidents which left me full of anxiety, breathless, unable to sleep. Needless to say, that state wasn’t ideal for writing, but I’m moving through it now, dodging oncoming vehicles and heading out onto the home stretch. Vroom!
As I mentioned in my last post, I did heaps of work at Bundanon, so maybe these last four weeks have been a necessary hiatus, a time to catch my breath before the big push to reach the end. I’m very close. I know it. I’ve just got to get back in the ‘zone’, as Judith Lukin-Amundsen (my ASA mentor) calls the stage needed to complete the final manuscript. Part of the problem is that I lost my writing space when I re-organised the house a couple of months ago. I tried to create a new space in my office at university, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m like a restless caged animal whenever I’m there. So, last week, I made a new writing space in my bedroom – a safe, private, quiet space – and this is where I’m going to finish the book. In On Writing, Stephen King says a writing space only needs one thing: ‘a door which you are willing to shut … and the closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business.’ Okay, that’s me, here now, with the door shut, and I mean business. My new deadline is the 31st May, the fourth anniversary of my father’s death, and I’m going to meet it. Head on.
Other news? Madeleine Cruise, the talented young artist I met at Bundanon, recently sent me a photo of a painting she’d completed during her residency. It’s a fabulous portrait (can you have a portrait of an animal?) of Elroy, one of the Spanish-looking bulls that lazed about in the paddock near her studio. I’ve made it the background image on my computer to remind me of the fun times we had at Bundanon. Madeleine’s work will be featured at Cafe Guilia in Chippendale during July, and, along with the lovely Karen Therese, we’re planning on meeting up again, wearing our ‘Wombat Safari’ T-shirts. I miss the girls.
Free-writing in my journal has really helped over the past weeks. Whenever I start a new journal, I always make a collage for the front cover – a free-association kind of thing, created from pictures and words that leap out at me from the weekend papers. On the cover of this month’s journal are the words: Simply write. Yep. That’s all I have to do. Simply write. And shut the door. And meet the girls in Chippendale when it’s all finished. Too easy. Until next time…