Writing in Paradise: Day 3

Daku Resort
In the early morning of day 3 I woke and wrote these words… “I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this.” Oh dear. Drama Queen 101. To summarise, I was struggling with where my story was going. Felt like the engine had been taken apart and I was having trouble putting it back together. So many spare parts! To keep them or throw them away – that is the question. Ah, but it’s all process … by the end of writing those morning pages I had realised there were two stories and I was trying to squeeze them into one. One was the surreal piece I had arrived with and it had put its finger up at being shoved into a fairly straight narrative structure; and the other was about a father grieving for the loss of his son.

After breakfast (we ate so well!) we began our 10am writing workshop. Today’s focus was on voice. What is voice? Jan defined it as when you find your stride. Okay, yes, I’ve felt that. Margo said you keep striking false notes – sometimes you get it right, sometime you don’t. Yes, and to add to that, it’s important to keep going even when you know you’re hitting false notes. I also think it takes a while to find yr voice. And sometimes you have more than one voice. In writing for theatre I seem to have found a strong male Australian voice (A result of growing up in Kalgoorlie perhaps; or just because I spent a lot of time in pubs?) … Anyhow, where I’m at right now as a writer is having a dim notion of what my voice is but there’s plenty more writing to be done to discover it. I can easily slip into the Australian idiom but I know I have another voice which is struggling to be heard. Then something happened in the day’s meditation/visualisation. A young bolshie girl broke through. I’ve heard her before, but not this way. She is all about action and getting what she wants. She is a leader. I’ve had glimmers of her before, this young girl, tweenager, who is at an age where she’s realising that people have masks, and she’s just starting to get a grip on the complexity of growing up. I heard her voice when I wrote the thing that I got down for NaNoWriMo last year. We got into groups of 2 or 3 and read what we’d written. This wasn’t as scary as it sounds because the environment Jan had created was a safe, supportive one. I got some encouraging feedback from my group. This voice felt strong. And it was really terrific to hear what other people had written and the discoveries they were making about their own work.

Then we moved onto another writing exercise – working on the story that we had already begun exploring. (Oh God, do we have to?) We wrote chapter outlines (for those writing books) or scene outlines for us writing shorter pieces; then wrote down an image for each scene; then a sentence. Did it all very quickly. This is just another way to get things happening. You can write from the image or the sentence. This can be a good place to start – The kernel of intensity. At the time it didn’t work so well for me because, like I said, my story had split into two and I needed time to process it all. Also, I think I come at things sideways and wasn’t keen to go to kernel just yet. The story I was writing was quite a surreal one and I haven’t found a way that these kind of summarising exercises work for me. Yet.

afternoon relaxation
JJ, our Daku host with the most, took us out for an afternoon swim – in a little lagoon where the water was so salty it was impossible not to float and the water fizzed and popped like Rice Bubbles at the base of my brain. We ate lunch on the beach. It was great to relax and stop being so wound up about writing. We discovered tiny hermit crabs and I talked to a cab driver whose second son had been born just days before. It was sultry. We were wet and salty, wrapped in blue and white towels. There was laughter. The food was fresh and nourishing. It was easy to be here.

writers at work, Daku writing room

That afternoon I wrote in the bolshie girl voice. I also worked on the story I had promised to finish, ‘All That Movement.’ The laptop I had borrowed and brought with me wasn’t working. I asked a fellow writer if I could borrow hers. ‘No worries,’ she said. But hers was being temperamental too. Oh, what? Pen and paper? Okaaaay. If I have to. I sat on the bed, knees up. Slower way of working for sure, but it gave me the time to think that I needed. It was great. Time bent and I was in another time, the 90’s, when I didn’t have a computer. I was grateful for weirding out laptops. After an excellent day it was time for another gorgeous dinner at a communal table in great company. Bliss.

C x