I’ve just spent the Easter weekend camping on the beach in the bush, celebrating my birthday with my beloved. I read and wrote, I did yoga at dawn facing the crashing sea. I slept in the tree-filtered moonlight with the van door open, the bush slithering and cricketing, the night sighing and dripping around us, my soul tremendously happy.
I’m 41 and what have I got to show for it?
This question appeared like a snake on a sunlit path and surprised me in my joy. It slid home with me home last night. It slithered over my mind this afternoon, forcing me to open my computer and pour over all of my files from the past 5 years. It sat me at the table on the verandah, papers in hand, while I sifted and sorted through pieces – fragments, ideas, sketches – searching for answers.
This question caused me to ponder with fresh eyes over all I have written, to cast my mind further back into previous years, to the writing from there, remembering stories of which now I have only fragments, recalling characters who only visited but remained in my heart-istic memory, re-visiting poems I’d burnt or lost. I relived the days spent in writerly frustration and happiness.
My own tomb rolled back. That which I believed had died stood resplendent before me.
I had been practising my craft.
My fragments and completions are rich: in atmospheres, descriptions, settings, characters. I have used all of my senses, my observations are keen. My writing throbs; it has a pulse. It flows through many hands, hearts and minds. My characters are strong and vivid. They exist. My writing belies a strength of experience that sinks deep into the reading. It translates.
I’ve explored themes, sought worlds, attempted styles. I’ve dredged the emotional and mental ditches of any given day or time in my existence – the writing holds their humour, bleakness, blackness, delicacy, directness, preoccupations. There’s many, many, many more worlds and intricacies still to come; some as yet unborn, some developing, some to die and fall away. The hand of a writer is, and was, at work.
I see what I am, and what I have been; a writer who has consistently returned to her craft, irrespective of time spent away from it, who has developed consciously at times and accidently at others; a writer who has absorbed the strengths of what she has read, and learned from her own and others’ weaknesses.
I have the fruit of my efforts so far; not only the words on paper with which to build further, not only the knowledge of time spent and stories told or waiting to be, not only the memory; I possess also a deeper, more subtle harvest – that of my belief in my writing. It’s in my grip. I’m supping from it.
I have a voice. I have a passion. I have a craft.
I am consistent and resilient. I possess diligence. I have a rhythm; I understand it and I know how I work. I trust myself.
I am 41 years old and what have I got to show for it?
I have my answer.