This morning I sat in the Sugar Plum cafe, talking with a playwright. As we discussed ideas on creativity he paused for a moment. He told me he had heard from a friend that there was a writer in town, “a real one, someone who actually writes…” It was me, the writer who actually writes.
Four months ago I might have felt undeserved of the description, awkward, deceptive. But for three months now I’ve been living on a low-income, avoiding distractions, and working hard to not be someone with a dozen unfinished stories in a drawer, or on a laptop.
I wrote every day. I found short fiction, a way by which I could test stories, characters, ideas. I started sixty one stories, so far I’ve completed five.
I wrote about poor choices and brutal pasts, and how difficult and yet essential it is to move beyond them. I wrote stories about being human, and one about being an Oak tree, and another about being a magic spell. I wrapped myself in imagination, and tried so, so hard to steer clear of distraction.
And now I have one story in front of a magazine publisher in London, and two more about to go to local organisations, and hopefully find their way to readers. There’s another too, a story of Alzheimer’s and what it means to care enough to help someone hold onto themselves, in spite of their forgetting you. I’ve yet to find a home for that one.
My 88 Days is up now, but I have two more weeks of freedom in which to set the next course. First though, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to offer feedback, and criticism, and edits. In the end I want an audience for my writing, and all of you have helped me build the courage to offer up my work. Without you I’d be an untuned piano, with you, I feel I’m ready for the concerto.
It is so, so important for me to test myself, to forge my own future. But it is also important that I take the time to focus on others. Writing can be a lonely pursuit, as can living in a small town amongst paddocks and poverty. This summer I’m aiming to spend more time with more people. To surf beside strangers, and then share a beer with them as friends. To commune, to be communal, to dance and sing and celebrate. Physicality, that’s what I need. And sunshine. And maybe fresh oysters.
For now though, for the spring, the results of my toil will sit with editors, making decisions on the fate of my tales. I won’t though sit idle, there’s plenty more tales to be told, plenty more stories to unfurl.