Shifting views – juggling a desire to write with the reality of life

I didn’t make it to the page last week. Well, not on this side of my world. Not this page.

I missed it.

There were plenty of times when I thought I might be just about be ready and then…the moment passed.


I thought about so many things that I could write. Somewhere in the chaos (I also didn’t make it to the housework, as it happens) there are a few sticky notes that sketch content and images.

I considered a mid-week post. I played with the idea of a late-week post. I realised I just needed to accept that some weeks I might not make it.

Of course, there is always the possibility of having a stash of posts ready and waiting. A patient queue of ideas all bright and shiny, ready and waiting.

It’s a simple dream.

I expect they’re the one’s you’ve got to have.

Bird in profile
Enough with the excuses


When I was wandering around looking for somewhere to write last week (trying to multitask…it’s a long story ) I came across a new structure at Bathers Beach in Freo.

It is an open-framed shelter on a fair sized deck.

From the looks of things, it is a social space. Somewhere to kick back on a summer’s day. A place to party.

I think it would be a lovely place to write.

Frame of shelter at Bathers Beach
Open to the elements

I sat in the shade for a while. I made some notes. I took some photos that I think will be useful for a poem, perhaps even a story.

Mostly I sat.

I was waiting for someone and settling into writing just didn’t happen.

While I didn’t get much ‘done’ I did make progress.

I had popped into Dawn Meader’s exhibition at Kidogo Arthouse. It was an unexpected treat and I found a painting that I loved.

It is a view through a doorway into a garden in Tuscany in the late afternoon. (I wish I could remember the title. I’m sure ‘afternoon’ features.)

I have a thing for doorways that I can’t really explain. (Also, Tuscany – I must go one day – afternoon light and gardens.)

I’m looking forward to bringing to bringing the painting home. It is going to go near a reading chair. Or my writing desk. I think.

The painting got me thinking.

Wandering into the framed shelter – a space that is really all doorways and views – I got to thinking about how our world can shift.

Well, our view of it.

Depending on how we frame it.


In the last couple of weeks there have been lines from poems that keep coming back to me. Especially T. S. Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’.

I have mixed feelings about Eliot’s poem. I had to learn it as a recital piece for a Literature class when I was 15. It was a choral speech exercise and I really wasn’t fan. Not of the poem. Not of choral speech.

Looking back, I know that my ambivalence at the time came from how the poem was presented to us.

Perhaps the lines come back to me so often because they were gouged so deeply into my memory by rote learning. I don’t think that is it, though.

At the same time we learnt Edwin Muir’s ‘The Horses’. I remember that poem but it doesn’t come back to me in what I’d describe as meaningful ways.

I think – hope – it is more because I’ve come to an understanding and appreciation of the poem.

There are lines that catch at me and I think about them. Probably when I should be thinking about other things.

Lately I’ve been musing about two moments in the poem. The first is lines 8-10:

 There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

The other is lines 33-35:

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down


It is the word ‘regretted’ and the need to ‘set down’ that resonate most immediately.

Now, with the benefit of a lot of decades, I can see the cadences Eliot builds into the poem are exquisite. My frame has shifted.

I’m sure it will shift again.

The emotional range of the poem is striking. There is so much to think about.


A lot of the time I think about the effectiveness of Eliot’s language. Recently, I’ve thinking about people making difficult journeys – literal and metaphorical – and what those journeys mean.

I live in Australia, a place where it’s hard not to think about people making difficult journeys.

We’re brought up on them as a national mythology. These days we impose them as a political …

I’m stumped, there are so many words that I could use that I shy away from. Most of them are unpleasant.

I’ll settle on expedience.

Departures, arrivals and returns are fraught. We’ve made them that way. We advertise them that way.

Eliot was writing about something that I know is unrelated to contemporary Australia and yet how I engage with the poem has shifted because of our current climate.

I realise this may seem oblique. I’m still working with it and I’m not quite sure where it’s going to take me.

The way I’ve been thinking about it means there are now different connections between my memory and my reading(s) of the poem.

Journeys, what we see, experience and share change us.

Eliot’s magi find themselves ‘no longer at ease’ (l. 41).

Likewise, my frame has shifted and I’m not as comfortable as I once thought I was.

Hot summer day at Cottesloe
Big blue sky

* I do, of course, have a list of ideas – and a schedule for some ‘key’ dates waiting patiently. I just haven’t done anything with it. I’m planning a writing weekend. I ‘just need’ to clear other commitments…


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