Filling the Well

Writing can drain your brain. Well, it certainly can drain mine. I try to keep topping up during a project, but when I’ve handed in a project, or finished editing I find that it’s helpful to consciously refill the well. That means walking and really looking at what happens around me. Whenever I find myself worrying that I’ll never have another workable idea, I look intentionally. It’s one of the reasons I take photos. I want to look at the everyday, the otherwise invisible and see just how extraordinary the ordinary really is. Or what we take for granted.

Okay, this set of stepping stones is never ordinary. I just love the way they seem to float in the 3m water. They’re rock solid (see what I did there?) and big enough for giants.

Sometimes there’s too much noise, too much to look at, to be able to see anything. It’s just the same in story. Too much detail can swamp a story, and I find it useful to really think about how much of a story is enough. What is left out or taken out is as important as what is left in. Rather than crop this photo, I framed it with the tree. The picture is within the picture. Inside the frame is more important for this image than what’s outside. For this picture. This story.

Autumn has offered us the most amazing sunsets this year. This wasn’t the best picture I took, but it’s the one that really sets the cars on fire and that was interesting to me. I’m not sure why, but it just was.

In this in-between-story-well-filling time, I had the chance to be part of an art project. Each participant was given some clay and some pigment powder. The idea was to represent their grandmother/s or a significant female in their life. The results, a photo of the clay and the explanation for the piece will be part of an online exhibition through Kingston Council. I used some handmade lace from my one of my grandmothers (representing the finework she made, and the strength inherent in the delicate frame) and strong seams from my other grandmother (who made suits and could be very direct).

I’m not quite sure why I like this picture, and perhaps it would be a face if I rotated it, but the knots look like they are pupils in the middle of crusty eyes – perhaps a monster, perhaps just a reminder of how trees work when they lose branches.

I take pictures sometimes only discovering afterwards just how marvellous things are. Look at these ants! I didn’t even see them when I framed the shot, but I think they’re quite happy not to be noticed. I’d been entranced by the curling, the unfurling, the flame colours. The ants are a bonus.

I often write at the junction between fiction and non fiction. My inspiration comes from reality and the spinoffs it allows me.

And at the end of the well-filling, I’m looking forward to starting a new project. It’s nothing to do with stepping stones, trees, sunsets or flowers, but it’s inspired by them all.

Ta-da! Dingo and Kookaburra

That sounds like the title of a book, don’t you think? Perhaps I need to write it, but in the meantime, it’s actually about two books.

dingo                   kookaburra

Dingo will be released in paperback with a gorgeous new cover on June 1 and Kookaburra, also illustrated by Tannya Harricks will be released on 1 August. Because of the virus that has already had too many mentions, there are no teacher or librarian conferences to showcase new titles and Walker Books have been gathering videos from authors and illustrators with upcoming titles. Take a look here to see who’s been doing what and how fabulous their work is. My video is here.