Write what you know, they say—and I know night.
Jet black, dark of the moon night. Crisp shadows on bright, silvered lawn night. Still night of hush and mopoke hoot. Howling night of seethe and crash.
Doona-burrowing, extra blanket, bed-beanie night. Night of sweat and swelter, sheet-tangle, turn and tumble.
On a steamy summer night, 4.12 gleams greenly at the bedside. Blackbird song, else silent. Then a creaking, then a tearing, a ripping, a shearing, a shredding … the crackling subsides, then silence again. Re-enter the blackbird. Later I awake and step outside to rolls of pink bark and new, smooth, fragrant, pale trunk exposed. A gum, stripped bare.
I started writing my memoir nineteen years ago—unknowingly. In a cosy sharing of Quaama women writers, I jotted down vignettes. Longhand pieces, dislodged from memory’s dim corners to briefly breathe fresh air, then closed tight again in notebooks. Fifteen years on, I wrestled with a novel but the memories, old and new, kept breaking through. Refocus.
Two years of filling the gaps, explaining, considering, blaming, absolving, reckoning. Pain, fear, confusion, exposure, realisation, understanding. Relief.
The writer, stripped bare.
Long Road to Dry River will be launched by Jack Miller at Well Thumbed Books in Cobargo at 10.30 am on Saturday 7 March. Then I’ll be in conversation with publishing industry icon Mary Cunnane, there’ll be a couple of readings, then we’ll hoe into one of WTB’s renowned morning teas. If you’re around these parts, it would be wonderful to see you there.