I could not believe my luck when friends of mine put the word out for a house sitter. Four days looking after a house in the country with two dogs and four chickens. I decided straight away that this was the perfect excuse for a long dreamed of writing retreat. It has been wonderful so far, lots of watching the dogs play and fresh eggs for brunch, and of course lots of writing.
In the days before I arrived my head was filled with ideas of how I could use my time, and as I got closer to my arrival, my list got crazy big.
This is the pile of books I decided I would need. If I am going to write an essay on the way Steiner education uses the ancient Parcival story and language to deepen students understanding of modern human psychology, triggers, and honesty then I will need those books. And if I am going to write an essay on the hundreds of acres of land that was cleared by hand on the Eyre Peninsular in the 1930s, I am damn well going to need some good stories from the bush to draw from. I also had business ideas I wanted to brainstorm and editing I want to complete and my novel to start. So along with my laptop and a bit of food wine and extra snacks, I was prepared to knuckle down and get stuff done.
Like most good house sitters the first thing I did was check the bookshelves. You would have as well, right? There are lots I have read and lots I haven't, and even though I didn't dwell too long and continued bringing in my things, and setting up my workspace, I could not get past the orange penguin classic covered Wuthering Heights. Well, and now I have started it Ill have to finish it!
Needless to say, I have not given Parcival or Turning the Century another glance.
I have done lots of writing though, and I managed to narrow my to-do list to three tasks. First on the list is to start the final edit on a life story that I am writing. This is my favourite part of the writing process, its when I get to create and fulfil the owner's dream of having their life story told. At this stage my client and I have formed an understanding of each other, I can hear their voice in my head as I write, and I can picture the events as they describe them. I get to format the photos with the text and pass it on to be edited.
I smile as I write, I laugh and sometimes cry as each story becomes part of the whole.
The second writing task on my list is to write the first chapter of a novel that I am starting. This is a bit daunting for me because I usually write nonfiction. But when there is a story inside of you it simply must be told. I'll keep you posted on how it's going, but don't hold your breath. I have a rough plan to start with but I'm going to try to pants it, and see where it takes me.
My final task is an online course in writing life stories. I didn't think I would ever be brave enough to do this but today it seems very doable.
One of the questions I get asked all the time, How do I start writing my life story? and the next question is, Where do I start? I am going to offer a practical guide to writing your life story from start to finish. It will answer all of your questions and more. I'll let you know when it's time to sign up.
Right now though let me tell you this,
the answer to the first question, How do I start? is easy to answer. You start with the desire to write your life story and you get a notebook, a journal, a laptop, or a stone tablet and chisel and you write the story that is in your head today. It might be a shopping list, it might be the time you were sent to the principles office, it might be the day you got your promotion, it might be what you did yesterday. Don't judge it, just write it. Get your writing muscle into action and start a writing practice.
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I feel like I have kept you long enough and I want to get on to my next task, which may or may not be wondering why Mr Lockwood was such a busy body and why Nellie didn't just keep her mouth shut.
Of course, the answer must be so that we could read it, again and again, and without Heathcliff and Cathy, this weekend would have far too lonely.
I might just add that the two essays I planned to write will have to wait for another day too.