My writing has taken off over the last couple of weeks, which is a relief because I was feeling a bit barren and uninspired after the summer hols and obviously needed a good few weeks of thinking time before anything was ready to come out.
Towards the end of last year I applied for and was accepted for the 2013 Massey University Visiting Artist programme. When you have kids, it’s pretty near impossible to uplift your whole family to move out of town for residencies, but this one is in my hometown so it works. (I am still hoping I can work out a way to do an out of town residency – homeschool the kids? But how much writing would I get done if I were in Wellington or Dunedin or Auckland homeschooling my children? Answer: not much.) I have the winter residency which starts late April and goes through until late July. The residency comes with an apartment, which I won’t move in to, but I am going to use it to write in during the day when the children are at school.
I had to write a proposal of what I would be working on as part of the residency application and (in short) I proposed ‘a creative response to environmental decline’. It is interesting writing down your intentions for writing, because to be honest, who really knows what will happen once you begin? Already what I imagined last November when I wrote the application is changing, but in a good way…my ideas are gathering steam and substance.
My first ‘duty’ as a visiting artist is to give two talks, one in Palmerston North and one in Wellington – these happen before the residency even begins, in April. (More details about these to follow.)
Virginia Woolf’s ‘The Waves’ is one of the books which is really firing me up. When she started writing it she wrote in her diary: ‘I am writing to a rhythm, not to a plot’ and she was terrified at the beginning of ‘The Waves’, she had a notion of what she wished to achieve but no clear sense of how to go about it. Without wishing to suggest I am in any way similar to the literary giant of VW, that’s how I feel about what I’m doing now. At the moment it is a ‘sense’ rather than a clear plan – every day I try to find the courage to keep working through the vagueness and inscrutability to certainty and clarity, although I suspect the latter two will only come after the project is finished.