Author: sarah

The Dolphin: or how my tendency to procrastinate allowed me to distill random ideas and write a short story

I was on a writing retreat at Varuna attempting to finish another draft of the manuscript that would go on to become See What I Have Done when day four arrived and I lost the will to write another word from Lizzie’s point of view. I still had three days left of the retreat ahead of me. I needed a way to procrastinate without feeling guilt. One of the writer’s at the house was working on a short story collection and had told me, ‘Short stories are like the easiest thing to write.’ Sounds perfect, I thought. That’s exactly how I’m going to spend the rest of my time here at the house. Here’s a tip I’d like to share with you about short stories: they’re not easy. They are their own art form and can take just as long to write as a novel. Sure, you could write a 3,000 word story in a single sitting but to get it right, to make it look like magic-ease takes drafting and time. They’re not for …

Walk With Me

Another night of tracing paths for my characters: They walk, I walk. They live in shadows, I follow. And so. Here are the walks that are building a novel. Some are based in Melbourne, other scenes are character ‘memories’ of European cities. I don’t always like to give away too much of the interior of a work-in-progress but these are some of the images I’ve been staring at every day. Melbourne: 8:35 pm, Monday 19 February 2018 Prague: 3pm, 12 January 2018 Leipzig: 5 pm, January 2018 Berlin: close to 3:30 pm, January 2018 Berlin: the day before, 10 am. January 2018 Leipzig: 10 am, 2 January 2018 Melbourne: late afternoon, September 2017 Melbourne: mid morning, June 2017 Melbourne: late night, my house. Probably June, 2017 Melbourne: early morning, storm warning. My house, approx June 2017 On the way to Canberra, toward a mountain: probably noon, early January 2017. And this road. This road is Eleanor

Repeat until you discover something new

I’ve been walking through the old hospital again, been imagining George and all the other men, those lumps of flesh and memory, sitting under verandas, under trees, under beds, under, under. This walk I’ve done again and again since the second novel began, these same buildings, same gardens. Nothing new to look at. There’s a section of the hospital around the back that always compels me to stop. I’ve never been able to figure out what it is exactly that I’m drawn to, only that when I’m there, I see images of men jumping from the roof, images of horses hoofing dirt. And I know on some level that images like these make the stitch of the novel. I revisit this spot because it allows me to build image into character, into narrative. But lately I’ve wondered whether something else draws me here, something I haven’t yet unlocked in the novel. I have been walking through the old hospital again, to the back of buildings. The scenery hadn’t changed. And yet. Something different. I stood, …

Photo Reel Night

By the end of 2017 I was creatively and mentally exhausted and beginning to hate the second novel, all that stagnation. Then I briefly left Melbourne on holiday and took mediocre photos of things I found interesting, whispered in my ear. For the first time in a long time I didn’t write a single word while I was away. I simply walked, explored, thought, let myself give into all feeling and emotion, stayed silent as much as possible. And then I returned home. I now have the hauntings of future work somewhere in the back of my mind. Suffer my (very selected) holiday photo reel: Photo 1: my favourite holiday photo Morning. That cold, made heart burn. I walked further into the forest to make warmth from blood movement. The sound of unknown birds, of old-bone tree limbs stretching. The wind, the wind. I made eye contact with the top of trees, saw X-Ray lungs, a cancer. Reminded myself that I am just another human on the continuum of a spinning planet. I kept walking.

All My Best Work Happens When I Sleep #1

If I don’t dream I cannot write. All that is me, from page to skin, that is the best, the worst, the ludicrous and irrational, the patient and accepting, the being that has the ability to form her own creative truth, lives inside dreams. I have known this from an early age and I simply accepted that was where all stories, the entire self, were stored: we just have to be vulnerable in sleep to find it all. We have to be open to what could happen. But as I got older I realised not everyone thinks this way and often when I would talk about my dreams, some so real and alive I knew they must exist in a future day, I’d watch the other person’s reaction, watch them process thoughts from ‘You’re crazy’ to ‘Blah blah blah blah.’ So you learn to keep these things to yourself, secretly search for others like you (and no I am not declaring myself as psychic. Go away) See What I Have Done came to me in …

Some Kind of Influence #1

From 1990 to early 1997 I lived in a house that came alive at night, shadowed throughout the day.  It was a nightmare and dream made of brick and concrete surrounded by humanoid-trees and a long stretch of road that would whisper your name. There was always something happening in that house: strange sounds, possum scratching inner roof and walls, figures out the corner of your eye, odd men knocking at the front door, tall Eucalpyts that would catch fire, my parent’s symphonic arguing, my brother teaching himself how to play guitar and fall in love with science, he and I hand holding down the hallway because we were too afraid of what was hidden in the dark. And there was always me in my room: writing, inventing characters, talking to myself. Me reading late into night hours, me wondering what type of adult I would become, if there was anything I’d be able to offer the world once I got there.  From time to time I’m asked who or what has influenced me and …