Sunday, 21 February 2016

Carving out time and space

Year of the Monkey
I am never quite ready to make resolutions at the start of the year. I need mulling time; which is often hard to find in the tumult of festive activities. But when Lunar New Year arrives a month or so later I am usually feeling much more sorted. And this has proved to be the case again. My percolated resolution is that every weekend should involve some creative activity. As usual, my definition includes anything and everything – trying my hand at a complicated recipe, planting a herb box, sanding back the paint on a chair or visiting an art gallery. I don’t want to set myself up to fail. So using the last few weeks as a test, have I passed? There has been lots of knitting for a newly arrived baby, batches of lime curd and plum syrup, pastry trials, exhibition outings and plenty of photography. Not a bad start! Can I keep going? Do I want to? Absolutely, it is a wonderful excuse to put on my maker’s hat and have some fun. I am keen to make a dotty blouse for work, hang the curtains, find some healthy lunch recipes and knit a wintry scarf.

Recommended reading

My writing will get a bit of a kick along too now that uni has started back. This semester is fiction, which I have never really written before, but which I rather think I am going to enjoy. There is so much freedom to let go and just write what comes, it is one big experiment. The set novel text is The Eye of the Sheep by Sophie Laguna, which is fabulous. The story is told through the eyes of Jimmy, a strange kid in a messy family situation. His voice is strong, clear and unique. The ebbs and flows of tension had me climbing into bed early each night, keen to keep turning the pages. Every week we also read one piece from The Best Australian Short Stories 2015.

Writing every day

As well as reading, each class involves writing a few short paragraphs, sharing with others and getting their feedback. At the end of the semester I will have more than a dozen snippets. And if I do the same exercise myself at home each week then I will double my chances of finding an idea, a voice, a character, a theme that I can develop into a more substantive piece. My first in class piece was about grief and the second about an accident. My extra practices have yielded scenes about being trapped and waiting.
Homemade mini quiches

Being creative gives me an excuse to slow down and become absorbed, losing track of my surroundings, of time, of myself. I am an introvert; I need quiet time to recover from my interactions with the world. My creative practice helps me function in my daily life. When I don’t have a project underway life seems so much harder and not half as much fun. It is not so much a treat, as a necessity.