Retracing my steps

Writing in the garden (source:

Another indulgent Melbourne day under a scorching sun, and I’m sat in the garden accompanied by cricket, cold beer and notebooks. Having finally taken aim at truly beginning my first (proper) book, I dug out my old notebooks from what I might think of as ‘the archives’, but in reality is a dusty shoebox tucked away on a low shelf.

My scribbles over the past couple of years rediscover influences I’d forgotten and reveal an alchemy of insights I’d not fully appreciated. Partway through transferring my notes into Scrivener and I am finally realising I’m ready to write the book proper. As I thread old thoughts together into refreshed ideas, I wonder whether, when I’d first decided to write it, I was then prepared to. It almost feels as if the book has been reluctantly evolving, resisting, knowing I was not yet ready; allowing me to only do as much as I was able at that time. It wasn’t going to be rushed.

Preliminary attempts earlier this year got nowhere, giving me a smattering of sleepless nights when I piled pressure on myself to get my teeth into it. The note I’ve just stumbled on from February 4th reminds me of waking at 5am on a sticky Monday morning to begin a couple hundred words streamed from half-awake ponderings. I’d not revisited those before, even during other bleary-eyed false starts.

I will not repeat that cycle though. In terms of word count I am where I was a year ago, but I am better prepared. One thing I lacked then was clarity. I had ideas, some of which I have since synthesised through short papers and articles; and I had an overarching concept of what I’d planned to unravel, but I lacked a way to open them up, bring them back together, and offer them in interesting ways.

During the past year, I have also learned much more about how to write. At every spare moment I’ve read, listened, learned, and practiced. I have discussed too. And people have listened. I feel assured I have something interesting to say and, importantly, a way to say it. I am now more confident at this new beginning. This is what was missing: knowing I will write it, not hoping.


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