Naively, I thought I would do a lot of writing this week.
Four days away, all by myself. Away from the family, away from work. No appointments, no cooking, no sock pick-uping. I had imagined myself, coffee in hand and surrounded by mind maps and notes, diligently working on the initial sketches of a book. Jotting ideas down, putting some sort of a structure together. Something I could show for all this TIME I’ve had this week.
It didn’t quite turn out like that.
All might have gone as planned, if I was
the sort of person who is happy to simply chill out by the pool while on a holiday. After all, a jump between holding a book and holding a laptop isn’t really that huge, and any extra mental effort required to press the keyboard could always be nicely compensated by a pink cocktail or two.
But see, I’m not that type. When I go away, I sleep less and wake up earlier, roused by foreign bird song and the need to get out and explore. My eyes shift focus across the landscape, my nose twitches in response to new smells, my mind is restless and I absolutely cannot sit still.
It didn’t help that I found myself in such a darn beautiful place. Really, the unfortunate combination of stunning location and my personality meant that I faced an epic author fail. Instead of writing, I went canoeing and dinosaur footprint spotting. I walked 10km across a deserted beach, and then trotted a few more checking out the nooks and crannies of the town. I swatted flies and counted crocodiles in an ancient gorge, waded knee deep through a cold cave stream, ducked under a snake hanging low in a tree, and ate barramundi at sunset.
My mind was filled with thoughts and endless questions, totally in awe of the history and geography around me. Sitting in a canoe out at sea, I spotted a turtle come up for air and then quickly duck down below, intuitively knowing that he’s best to get away, lest he became lunch like so many of his ancestors. I let my hand drag through the water, marvelling at how the sea could be both so milky blue and clear at the same time, and wondered whether divers of old ever lost sense of its beauty as they risked lives in search for pearl shell. I looked around at the rusty cliffs, separated by a darker line which once marked a river, and speculated on what sort of fish fed within its waters. I spied sharp rocks breaking the surface of the sea, and felt a wave of sympathy for the likes of Dampier, Baudin and King, and the countless sailors who’ve often come to grief among the mighty tides and reefs.
Heading inland, I was mesmerised by the endless termite mounds, and drunk by the thought of how many of the little critters live and die out there, destined to a fate of picking up another’s droppings. I was spell bound by the Napier range, and by the knowledge that it is really one big fossil, full of creatures that once lived under the sea. I could hear the silent echoes of heroic Jandamarra as he sneaked through the ancient caves and gorges, fleeing from police. I wondered what birds made the sing song calls in the bush. And, once darkness fell, my breath caught as I watched the surreal silhouettes of huge boab trees backlit by a scrub fire.
And all along, I searched for words, words which might best describe the smells, the sounds, and the colours of the Kimberly. I found many, but fell grossly short of having sufficient discipline to pick out the ones which related to what I had actually set out to do. Thus, the plan for my book remains untouched.
However, if a picture paints a thousand words, then through my mind’s eye I’ve already written a novel this week.