I started writing my first book in 2002. I filed the outline in a ‘secret file’ in case our children stumbled across it on our shared computer. Funny thing was, I forgot about the secret file, and besides I had a very busy life to attend to, so my first book quietly faded into the background of my busy brain.
Then, in 2005, my lifetime partner and I took our first overseas holiday and went to Bali for eight days. On the second day of the trip, I started writing a letter to mum. The letter continued for the next seven days. Before I knew it, it had became such an epic yarn, I knew I couldn’t send her a 50-page letter. I recall telling my husband that I seriously didn’t want to go home – I just wanted to stay in Bali and write a book.
When we got home and I read back over my lengthy letter. I didn’t think anyone else would really want to read that much about ‘my insights’, so I shelved it. I tried to read parts of it to mum over the phone during the next few years, but it was clumsy. Living more than 3000 kilometres apart you become creative about how you share the stories you would usually share over a pot of tea. And all of this was before mum was computer literate so Skype or email weren’t options either. I did try one more time when mum was visiting and even hooked up the video camera to try and add colour and flavour to my lengthy letter but that didn’t work either…
During a major health crisis in 2009, I decided that I wanted to turn that darn letter into a short story for mum for her birthday. In doing so, I realized that it would be a decent thing to show my husband first. However, he is a very harsh critic of ‘fluff’ and has to be captivated in the first couple of pages or he won’t turn another. And bearing in mind, this story began its life as a frank letter to mum in which I poured out my heart.
To be honest … my husband and I were separated for nine months prior to going to Bali. So there were quite a few references to him in the letter that I never imagined he would read.
My husband set my heart a fluttering when he agreed to read the book. With great trepidation, I suggested he might like to make notes on the draft. Reminding him that he had one week to read it and get back to me, I tried to close my mouth and my mind and leave him to it for the week.
I was astonished when he read it in four nights and declared it a ‘bloody good read’. When I asked if he wanted me to change anything he said there was something that should be fixed. With heart pounding and belly flipping, I waited for him to show me. I was terribly nervous – remember this is not a man who dresses anything up for any reason and I was coming out as a ‘writer’. But I had a smile a mile-wide when he pointed out a typo on the second last page – and that was all!
My handwritten notes had become 80 pages and he had chugged his way through them all. The butterflies in my belly stopped partying with my thumping heart and all was well again in my world. My husband, who gives away compliments on the rarest of occasions, had read my book and enjoyed it. His parting comment was: “I don’t think the world’s ready for this one honey, it’s a bit too much about us. But you’re a bloody good writer and I’m looking forward to your first real book.”
I adore writing as it soothes my soul and fits with my life motto: self care, self pace, self love. In finally writing my first book, Seven Letters to Mum – Bali on a Wing and a Prayer, I’ve been stimulated to write another little book that I am very excited about.
I have come to realise that writing is like a constant companion and is never far away from my heart and soul. I know that the creative pathway for further writing has been paved in the most cathartic way. I love the idea of inviting readers into the lounge room of my soul. I see them in my mind’s eye sitting, relaxing and contemplating life with my little books in their hands. I sense my words provoking deeper thinking and becoming a spring board for change in the most subtle of ways.