My day has begun with – what I consider to be – one of life’s pleasures: listening to rain fall against a window.
Being snuggled in bed with no immediate call on my time helped. Following it up with tea in my favourite mug and some vegemite toast that the dog was happy to share made it better. Now I’m watching clouds scud past the neighbours’ palm trees.
I’ll be honest, I don’t fully understand the love affair Perth has had with palm trees.
Jacarandas? Yes. Cape myrtles? Ok. Palm trees? Why?!
I know it’s probably just me.
I know I digress.
So, a rainy day in Perth at the end of a busy, rainy week. The city continues to experience the below-average rainfall that we obsess about but there have still been plenty of opportunities to listen to falling rain and run to cars through showers. There is more rain forecast for the week ahead.
My (purported) excess of umbrellas has been vindicated.
Progress with the scrawl
All in all, my project of working through the scrawl is coming along nicely. I’ve been fitting it in around various commitments and projects: the day-job … a Cert IV I’m working towards … family.
This week I turned my attention to what my family refers to as Jo’s dead head, a gift from my sister for my 25th birthday. A bit tattered after nearly twenty years of abuse, the dead head has come in and out of my writing process. Using it in fits and and starts is no doubt what has helped it survive. I do not always treat it kindly.
There were notes in there from conferences in 2009 and a master class in 2013. I’ve typed and filed them at last. Scraps of ideas and lines of poetry have been sorted and culled as seemed necessary late into the night earlier this week. The recipes for Pineapple Chicken (yum) and Mrs Allen’s Chow Mein (not sure about that one) are still where they were. So are the reading lists I’ve been building up. At least the book is no longer bulging. It could take another refill.
After the clean-out, I have a couple of pieces that I think are worth working on. It is more likely that they will be worked on as I add them to the other bits and pieces that I’m pulling together as I work my way through the scrawl. Getting them out of the relative safety of the dead head means I can put them side by side with other remnants of the scrawl.
What to do with material liberated from the scrawl?
It is taking a while to work through everything. As well as dealing with the notebooks there are also far too many files that have needed to be cleared out. My shredder has come in handy.
My notes from a grad dip I didn’t finish (from 1992-1994)? Gone. My notes from staff meetings? Gone. I can almost see where I’ve been. My undergrad essays – desperately naive as they pretty much all are – all managed to make it back to their shelf. I expect their day will come.
If I had been more methodical, more systematic as I went along then I wouldn’t have this accumulation of writing debris. Perhaps. I could possibly still find myself needing to review and cull. I am sure that is the case.
Liberating material is necessary for a number of reasons. Here are four:
1. Space. There simply isn’t enough and I need to make some room. Imposing order and excavating material is part of establishing space.
2. Projects. I am working towards signing up for a PhD. I have a topic at hand, the forms are in … I’m just waiting for the next step. Sorting my environment is essential before I immerse myself in a six-year project.
3. Process. Working through the scrawl has been a part of my writing practice since … forever. Certainly around 1990 but I think I used to do this (on a smaller scale) when I was still in high school. I have a memory of a stenographer’s notepad from when I was in Year 9. I called it a graffiti pad. It was angst-ridden and I loved it.
4. Retreat. Once it is all ‘done’ – when I have pulled together the last bit from the scrawl and the files – I think a weekend of just the words pulled out from where they’ve been hiding and some fresh pages will do nicely as a treat. I’ve always ‘stockpiled’ notes and then written when I could pull together a reasonable chunk of time. Those chunks have been variously regular and scattered. A retreat is a chance to start afresh.
In the meantime, I’ve been making pretty good progress. I must nearly be there. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to listen to the rain as it falls while I work … and venture outside to splash in a puddle or two during breaks.
It sounds like bliss to me.