The Words and Worlds of Life Writing

Updated: Feb 13

A Being of Things

There is a thing that happens to me first thing in the morning; it is a feeling of time and a hearing of noises. It’s not a doing of things it’s a being of things. As I wake, I am lucky enough to hear birds. I lie still and listen. My eyes closed — my mind free to move from bird to bird. From call to call. From song to song.

My chest hardly rises as I breathe in the morning, it is not a stillness as such, my mind is clear, and my focus direct. I think about what I will be writing today, who will I be writing today.

The birds are loud now, repetitive peeps, melodic pipes, and outrageous shrieks. Spring is here too, and the light comes earlier, and the birds who are most active in the predawn light let me know it is time to wake, long before the sun.

Superb Fairy-Wren (Malaria cyaneus)

One of the best-recognised species and common in most areas where there is undergrowth or tall grass cover. Strongly territorial living in family groups. *

I open my eyes I search for the wrens, one blue, one brown, that for three years have scratched in the leaf litter for morsels outside my bedroom window. They haven’t returned this spring. Not since the neighbourhood cat, tabby, wombat wide and wallaby tall wandered through the yard.

In between bird sounds I write.

Voices in my Hands

As a ghost-writer, I wear many cloaks, many shoes, and many hats. I step into a voice, and that story inhabits me for a week, six months, a year. The life stories I write fill my memory with moments that I have never lived. They are not mine, but they live in my words for a time.

Today I might become the voice of the farmer who has lived his life on four-thousand acres, clearing land and counting his years in sheepdogs, rains, and droughts. Amongst his fantastical stories of lightning strikes, fires, and sheep yards he has a little hind-sighted thought of the water holes, now gone to salt, and the acres cleared of mallee scrub,

‘Did I do too much?’ he asks.

The Rooster and the Blackbird

The rooster usually crows first, long before dawn, his voice travels through the neighbourhood. It continues throughout the morning, but the others don’t seem to hear, none call back. No-one halts the business of the morning while his call intends to lord over us all.

Today I am writing in the voice of a young man who will become an engineer; he will travel through Salazar’s Portugal and drive through Berlin while the wall is under construction. Today though, he is a boy on the sand at Mordialloc Beach struggling to get out of his woollen bathing costume.

‘They were itchy if you left them on too long.’ He tells me in a moment of visceral memory.

Through his voice, I can hear the young boy dreaming. I hear him reflect on his life with pride while I write in his voice about his adult world in which business comes first. Capitalism and helicopters. A long way from Brunswick, 1945.