Author: sarah

A week of tricking a new project into existence

Monday: writing objects I made myself look around the lounge room, settle on the first object I saw, then write whatever came into my head for 2 minutes. I did several, all as terrible as I expected. It was satisfying. New project whispered but didn’t come forward. Here are two objects. Door handle A circle holds a button holds a turn/ clicks an opening into place/ widens the world All the hands that have held this exit/ wound: ghosts. White dining chair Small lighthouses bring you to table/ bring to food, bring to gather/ it hard underneath skin/ It holding the accumulation of sitting years/ it supporting your back so you can look your family in the eye Tuesday: writing food I tried to remember a meal from when I was under 8 years old. I wanted to pinpoint the most mundane meal I could remember and gave myself 10 minutes to find it. The new project said it was willing to speak with me but that’s as far as it went. Wrote about toast …

Clearing out the dead notes

Found: forgotten phone notes for Blue Hour (once Blue Mountain) Found: photographs I took on small walks (things I told myself would be useful for the novel) Found: old ideas became new ideas became whole chapters became rejected edits became rewritten paragraphs Found: the smallest thoughts that completed a manuscript Found: my head, my dreams, things I don’t remember thinking Found: memories of notes I’m positive have been erased and aired and erased again but keep coming back every time I open archived digital folders. Found: this is a way you can write a novel when you think you have nothing inside you

Princes Park: 4 pm, Friday

Journal page: Waiting for another round of edits for Blue Hour. Can’t sit still. Ride bike to the park because at least then I’ll be too tired to think about the work ahead, the anxiety that’ll inevitably arrive with it. I haven’t written in a few weeks because my brain is so tired and my hands won’t cooperate with a pen. I don’t even know how to describe things anymore. I should never have taken a small break from writing. Idiot. But I’ve taken my notebook with me. Like always. Time to slow back into words. Ugh. It’s too warm to write now. Sarah, concentrate on what’s around you and write it down otherwise you’ll never do it. Here: smell of over ripe green grass, of rain that dried up days and days before. Thirsty dirt holding tight to green and white blades, to the tornado of tiny black insects lunging a meter into the air as a dog sprints toward me: that dry-swear fur, of dogs in the back of hot cars, windows down. …

A small passage of daily thoughts (Corona edition) 1

31 March 2020 Yesterday A and I went for our daily walk for fresh air. There were a few cars, those hard-work cars carrying men in twos. Some with the window down, banging on the side of the car door. There was no music on the radio. Sound for the sake of sound. Everyone eyes each other, necks craning as far as they’ll go; social exorcisms. It feels different from usual leering: this is small talk with strangers, talking without words. I find I want to call out ‘how are you spending your nights? What are you thinking each morning before you leave your house?’ Sometimes I pass people on the street and I just want to scream, want them to scream back, for us both to be primal, to just make noise and empty our lungs. Instead I just say, ‘hello.’ Or ‘please look after yourself.’ Everyone telling everyone to look after themselves. Is this better than screaming? Probably. A and I walked down quiet streets hand-in-hans and the sun was high above and …

Your Rejections Are Necessary

In a wooden drawer in my bedroom is a small pile of notebooks full of half-formed ideas or near-complete short stories that got the better of me. I’m positive that each time I sat down with these ideas I promised them something beyond completion, promised redrafting until I could take them no further, and then there would have been a promise to submit to a journal or a competition or maybe collect them like small sticks and present them to my agent as a surprise starter for a bonfire. What a side project they could be. But it’s rare I see any of these to completion. I used to think my wandering mind was to blame, all that boredom that eventually came from sticking to a smaller world. I used to think it was laziness. Or maybe it was guilt for most often than not, when I write these short pieces, I am at the beginning, the middle, the endlessness, of a manuscript that should have the priority. And so the story is stopped, a …

A New Series: Dreams of #1… Mannerism

Mannerism (Noun): 1 a: exaggerated or affected adherence to a particular style or manner B: often capitalised: an art style in late 16th century Europe characterised by spatial incongruity and excessive elongation go the human figures Merriam-Webster At the beginning of the year I was in London and trying to enjoy a short break from writing. By this stage I was completely over my novel-in-progress and couldn’t move myself away from the feeling that what I am writing is not only irrelevant and derivative but is already a complete creative and personal failure. Upon reflection I think it’s safe to say these overly wrought and self-loathing thoughts were partially a manifestation of creative exhaustion and so the decision to take some time away from characters and words and emotions was probably a correct thing to do for a little while: nothing helpful can be gained from telling yourself something you’re in the middle of creating is a steaming pile of dog shit. And so to London. A few weeks into my ‘I’m not physically writing …

Stigmatised Buildings

Above: I walk by this house all the time. I’d love to go inside Buildings call to you. The shape of windows, the colour of a door, the height of the roof, the patterns in timber, a romantic garden: bricked-bodies reaching out for your love. Then there are those buildings which make you grit teeth, tease the blood from your heart, this guttural sixth sense of knowing that unspeakable things have occurred behind that façade. These buildings are monuments to some of our darkest fears. Most towns have them: the witch house, the murder house, the creepy building, the haunted house, the place everyone crosses the road to avoid. Gaston Bachelard sees houses as ‘a body of images that give[s] mankind proof or illusions of stability.’ Perhaps it’s these images of unstable illusions that have always attracted me to buildings and houses, not because I am an architectural enthusiast (I know almost nothing substantial about architecture) but rather the stories that are hidden inside, the memories that exist under the floorboards. I am attracted to …

Draft Season

The transformative relief of drafting is what I look forward to the most when writing: taking small ideas, making raw words, rewriting them over and over until the project finds its true self. The beginning of things is daunting. Everything else that comes after that is hard work and the part of writing I enjoy the most. Because this is the moment you find out what you and the novel are really made of. I’m in the middle of typing up several notebooks and am amazed at how my (still unfinished) first draft has both managed to retain original structure and intent and yet has completely obliterated itself. I had no idea the project wanted to be the shape it is becoming. Recently I ran a writing workshop and afterward I was asked if I find my first drafts embarrassing. Yes, sometimes I do. But mostly I’m just glad it exists. First drafts are not publishable. Most likely the next couple aren’t either. I’ve mostly kept what I have of the first draft to myself …

Photo Reel Night #2

Most times I never know why I’ve chosen something to photograph for my novel until after the fact. That intuition. These past weeks I’ve been in the gut of novel, that space where I only take things in and think only ‘yes’ and ‘no’: would my character do this? would air like this exist in my novel? Is this the texture of fear? Is this the longest night? Is this, is this, is this? Here are some answers intuition gave: