Saturday, 9 May 2020

A year on....

Flowering gum tree.
May 9th 2019 didn’t really exist for me. I left London on the 8th and arrived in Melbourne on the 10th. The 9th passed somewhere in the sky.

I have been here in Melbourne for a year. On my arrival, none of us would have guessed how we would all be living a year on.

People have asked if I feel settled here and my answer is yes. I have my family and I have made new friends and enjoyed seeing my UK friend Claire who lives here too. I’ve yet to find my writing tribe. I joined a large writing group but its activities are more social than writing/peer reviewing. Another, nearer home, was simply writing time in a café with no sharing or feedback which wasn’t what I was after. I’d just joined a new local group but before we could meet it had to be put on hold. Hopefully we can meet in the not too distant future and I’ll see how it works but I may need to start my own group as Rosie Canning and I did back in 2009 with Greenacre Writers.

Explorations of my new city and it environs have had to stop for a while of course and, like everyone else, my social life has ground to a halt but there have been a few compensations in this stay-at-home time.

I’ve had plenty of reading time and at last read A Suitable Boy which I started years ago but somehow got side-tracked and abandoned it having lost the thread of the story when I next picked it up. So glad I tackled it again. 

I’m still discovering Australian authors and have a (quite large) number of new books by my side – how grateful I am that we can still buy books.

My holiday in March had to be cancelled and my theatre tickets have been refunded but I’ve watched some of the National Theatre productions, streamed for all to see, and Australian productions too. I was also able to see Alex Wheatle’s Crongton Knights. When I heard this was to be staged I jokingly asked if he could please bring it to Australia, but I would rather it wasn’t because of a pandemic.  

I took part in a writing time session in UK’s Stay At Home Literary Festival and as a member of Writers Victoria, I join twice weekly for writing time via Zoom and recently took part in a day course led by Fiona Lowe which would have been in person but was also Zoomed. It was an excellent course which I hope to use to kickstarting a rewrite on my second novel which has been languishing in a file for ages. The upside of Zoom was that we didn’t have to venture out in the wind and rain although I was looking forward to meeting other participants in person.

My writing hasn’t been a huge success but at least I’ve been doing some. A lovely acceptance came early in the year for a short story (the first thing I wrote in Australia) but is yet to be published, and I’ve had a couple of minor non-fiction acceptances. I've been disappointed by several rejections but received an acceptance from Cabinet Of Heed’s Covid-19 Stream of Consciousness challenge the following week. 

It’s been a year of exploration and change for me in more ways than one, with the biggest here at present but I hope that this time next year we will all look back on the early months of 2020 and feel that we gained something even among the many sad losses.

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