During the long break over Christmas and New year, away from the support & interaction of the SSOA writing group, I’ve spent many hours and days just thinking.
This might seem a waste of time at first, but I’ve been surprised at how beneficial it’s been - to allow my mind to sift through ideas on how to move my story forward as well as what forces are at play to motivate characters into action.
I now have a much clearer idea of where I’m headed as I’m determined to finish this novel in 2024 and begin a new follow up story with my central characters.
Although this project was first planned and begun as far back as 2016, I can honestly say I’ve learnt a lot and next time I will have a clear map of how the storyline unfolds plus I'll keep a watchful eye on being in charge rather than allowing the characters to take control.
Right now I need to finish my story and I hope to stick to the plan!
I float as best I can, on my back, limbs splayed like a starfish, broaching the surface of Sydney Harbour at Marrinawi Cove, gazing skyward. The wash of a passing ferry nearly tips me off balance, but I quickly recover and, once again, I look up into the blue. My ears are submerged in the chilled green water, and save for the clinking of the reflections of the waves against the shark net I am drifting in silence. The time has come to let go, not of these weightless moments, but the entire year just ended.
Most years simply blur into the continuum of memory, but some are remarkable for their glory or sadness, or both, and 2023 was surely one of those. Last year, I managed to remain gainfully employed, played my trombone in more gigs with more bands than at any time in my life, and launched a fiction novel three years in the making. Those who have read my novel will understand why one of my friends presented me with a tin of baked beans - an essential element in my story about a catastrophic internet breakdown. (*See below). I could not allow the high notes of the year to be drowned by the ructions of shuttle diplomacy between fractious band members and employees, the seemingly endless revisions of my story, and the sad death of my cousin, as this, I understand, is how life unfolds, always towards an inevitable end.
On New Years Eve, after playing charades with the neighbours then running down the back lane to stand outside my local pub where the fireworks reverberated in our chests, I felt a kind of displacement by the impending new year. That feeling was amplified in the days that followed as my mind turned to the sorry state of geopolitics, the timing of my retirement, I was stung by a bee, and I questioned what it means to be a writer now that machines can write for us.
A small wave splashes across my face, breaking my meditative spell and, at last, I let it go. I won't do laps this morning. Instead, I'll swim to the shore, clamber over the rocks, and sit for a while in the rising sun, contemplating the sandstone blocks rendered gold against the battleship grey of a thunderstorm bearing down on Goat Island. A cool wind springs up, enough to dry me off, so once again, I get dressed and, as usual, set off to buy a coffee and take my chances in life - as do we all.
Robert's novel Cloudless Love ... in the time of Artificial Intelligence, highlights the ubiquity and utility of baked beans, regardless of manufacturer.
Copyright: text - authors cited above; photos - Wix & Robert Carrick.
Posts on this SSOA blog are published to showcase the work of emerging writers who meet weekly to workshop their short stories, memoir or novels. The posts comprise just some of the responses written in just 10 minutes as a warm up to the meetings.
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