These last few weeks I have been away. First to Rye to a beach house, a place to write and read, without the intrusion of television or the Internet. Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit was played in the evening. Talk and wine flowed easily enough. The beach was a place to walk and meditate.
I was reminded of Sandy Cape a bay on the Indian Ocean in Western Australia. Each year that I lived on an inland farm we went to the coast. Most evenings we would go fishing. Pulling on our warmest clothes to walk from the shack, it was only a few moments along a stony track to the beach. We heard the ocean before we saw it and smelt the moist salty aroma drifting to us on the breeze. Fishing from the beach was the perfect end to a perfect day. Along the beach, every man and his dog it seemed had the best spot. Chairs were placed carefully, for experts leave nothing to chance. We carried our catch back to the shack in a plastic bucket. We would clean the fish outside under the stars, scattering iridescent scales onto the sandy ground. Reflected in the flowing luminescence of the kerosene lamp they looked like tiny lunar mountains. A little oil on the barbecue, a dusting of flour and the fish were soon sizzling. We often went for long walks along the beaches that edged the coast. A blissful time.
After Rye, we went to the city of Adelaide, often forgotten, but very beautiful. We stayed a week, walked ten to fifteen kilometres a day and absorbed the surroundings by osmosis.
It was then back to writing when I returned home. I edited the second chapter of my novel again, a chapter that has always been a problem for some reason. I’m happy with it at the moment and will now put it aside. There was a lot in that chapter: a couple meeting, marrying, and then the intrusion of an American serviceman.
I enjoy reading short stories, can you guess which story the following comes from? I’ll give you a couple of clues: it is the opening of the story and the writer is from New Zealand. This is one of my favourite short stories.
‘Very early morning. The sun was not yet risen, and the whole of Crescent Bay was hidden under a white sea-mist. The big bush-covered hills at the back were smothered. You could not see where they ended and the paddocks and bungalows began. The sandy road was gone and the paddocks and bungalows the other side of it; there was no white dunes covered with reddish grass beyond them; there was nothing to mark which was beach and where was the sea. A heavy dew had fallen. The grass was blue. Big drops hung on the bushes and just did not fall; the silvery, fluffy toi-toi was limp on its long stalks, and all the marigolds and the pinks in the bungalow gardens were bowed to the earth with wetness. Drenched were the cold fuchsias, round pearls of dew lay on the flat nasturtium leaves.
A writing tutor might say, ‘Look, this writer uses “paddocks and bungalows” twice in close proximity’, the tutor might also say, ‘Look, this writer uses the words “just” and “was” words best avoided,’ the tutor might also say, ‘and the writer uses “big” twice in this small example and it’s such an uninspiring word’. And yet to me this is evocative writing, a truly beautiful description of an early morning by the sea. So while you need to be aware of the rules of writing if you write for the modern day reader there is no need to slavishly follow each edict so that your writing ends up like a dried out piece of fish.
Have a good writing week, Elise
PS Remember to have FUN.