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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 …

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:

Give yourself the future: SLV

This afternoon I explored the no-public-access belly of the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. From the basement where they keep rare books (among some of the absolute treasures were several copies of Milton’s Paradise Lost–none of which were a first edition, first print but were early editions ( i.e. second printing from 166something), to the conservation and preservation room, the elephant lift, to a walk on top of the library’s roof. I was in a state of nerdish awe. And at some stage I realised I’d tuned into smells and sounds, begun focussing on small corners and hidden things. I was writing something for the future, those stockpile thoughts. It was another reminder to keep with curiosity, to keep exploring, keep searching for new ways to present the past. Because to be open to experience is to give yourself a future. Give yourself something to write about. And so to the stockpile:

Windows, Light, Memory #1

Tonight I was supposed to be spending time with the third project but I could only think of the novel-in-progress, of one character in particular who keeps reinventing himself every time I want to write something new. All his ways of speaking, his voice the only thing I’m capable of writing at the moment. He never leaves me. Better to leave words before they get you down. There was only one thing to do: I went into the night, went to find the things the corner of my eye might hold onto the longest, hoped some pattern would emerge so I could find my way back to the project/task at hand, tune into a voice I hadn’t been able to find for a few weeks. After 30 minutes, a pattern: light and window, people living just beyond eyesight. The way dark leads you to memory and repetition. That’s when I heard the woman’s voice, the character that has evaded me for weeks. She was back. And she was thinking in memory, was living in them, …

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, …

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 …

Lost Pages: The Book See What I Have Done Might’ve Been

In the beginning naivety was the greatest gift. I had no idea how long writing a book would take me, how many drafts I’d complete, how many false starts would become false ideas of failure.  I went along, wrote the words, went along, and then after a time I began to feel the enormity of it all, what it takes to write a book. Sometimes I couldn’t breathe. Many writers will tell you that to write a book is to run  a quiet marathon, others a test of character. The only thing I know about writing books is this:  you need to be able to sit within yourself day in day out, be able to block out the inevitable hate-noise that will thunder for you, be able to recognise the gold days when they arrive. To write a book you need to accept the repetition of it all and still be able to make something new. Your book is never going to be the work you have planned in your head. You’ll start writing those …

See What I Have Done Interview: Indies Introduce Q & A 

I swear one of these days I’ll do an actual post. Until then: welcome to my laziness. In the lead up to the US release of See What I Have Done I was lucky enough to chat with Carolyn Hutton as part of the Indies Introduce Q & A series.  Every time I do one of these  I find I struggle to truly explain my approach to the book in a way that is ‘satisfying’ mainly because the act of analysing what was once intuition feels too much like questioning magic. Some thing’s can’t be explained. But that’s the deal you make when you create something and it’s born. And so I will talk and talk. Happily. Here’s an extract from the interview. READ MORE HERE CH: You move the story forward with four very distinct voices, all in first-person, each one unique and very well-developed. How did you manage to inhabit and write from such different perspectives? SS: The short answer is a lot of false starts and an inability to focus! I began …