At our writing group recently we were asked to imagine that for a year we were to live in a house alone but could take what we felt was important in with us. The timer went on and away we went.
If I’m going to be bloody stuck in a house all by myself for a year I’m going to make sure it’s a year to remember. All my life it seems I have dreamt of having time for myself to do all the things I imagine I would like to do. Having a noisy childhood family and then choosing to start a family at 19 didn’t allow much time for this, so okay, unlimited money, unlimited goodies and time, lots of time and no commitments.
How would I really cope with this?
First into the house would be music CD’s, Mozart’s Elvira Madigan, Beethoven’s Emperor suite, anything by the Stones, Creedance, Irish, Scots bagpipes… well maybe just bring my whole collection as its unlimited.
A telephone. I must have a telephone. I wouldn’t even consider being out of touch with my daughters and husband for a year, or my sisters, apart from she who won’t talk to me. I could easily spend two hours a day catching up of life the universe and everything… and as I said, no phone no year in the house.
Writing materials, printing ink, paper, replacement printer and computer, pens and paper and a quill should all that fail. Maybe write the next Miles Franklin winner…but I think I am too old for that one. Maybe write reams of crap, but write I will and not notice the clock ticking towards yet another job I can’t neglect, because I can’t.
Some favourite DVD’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock”, “Father Ted”, “Black Books”, anything with Magda Subanski in it… Ha, ha, ha, ha. Books, yes all the books I have here and have never quite finished nor started…I may even re read some of those which really changed my life and understanding…
Plenty of Meno –Eze, Mega doses of Vitamin C, Echinacea, Cod liver etc. No point in having all this time if you feel too sick to enjoy it.
Righto, now I might want to take in my 49 photo albums plus discs of photos and take the time to go through them again. Lots of stories come out of those photos to me. A collection of Christmas and birthday pressies and cards.
And also into the Mack truck which now holds my wishes I have to put in some Loch Nora (is that spelt right?) and Black Douglas Whiskey – enough to last please. Some Yalumba Columbard Chardonnay and maybe some Panadine in case I get a headache from all that… not that I would.
Yes paints, brushes and good art paper and a few “How To’s” so I can learn a bit.
Some bulbs to plant and some vegetables to seed and take care of just so I do a bit of work so I don’t seize up. I assume basic food is part of the house.
The wonderfully handsome doggie Thorn and the cat Archimedes to keep the dog “interested”, pet food and animal stuff. I have to have someone to walk around the yard with and throw balls to and talk to…something living to touch, and I can’t go without the cat sitting on my lap and curling herself smaller and smaller as she goes to sleep. Who else would walk right up to my face at 4am, stare at me, freak me out then turn round and stick her bottom hole almost in my face? Who else I ask?
A RADIO…I almost forgot. The ABC Radio has some excellent discussion shows in the evening…hm!
Come to think of it would I want to waste a whole year of my life trying to figure out how to write the world’s greatest novel and why would I ever want to do that except to serve my ego? What comes out on paper comes out. Some of the best stuff was often written in the corner of a bar with a pencil and scraps of paper amongst the noise.
And being who I am, I could not allow myself separation from my family for a year. That year is too precious to me to do that. Its different for us all in this room, I know and that’s the wonderful thing, we are all so different and no one way is ever right for the rest.
Its funny. When I began this exercise the thought of a year like that in splendid isolation seemed wonderful. But the more I thought about it the less attractive it became. Things like DVD’s and pens and paper don’t replace talk and closeness and humanity. To sit in such splendid isolation and be apart from people for so long while you think about writing stories about them seems a bit back to front for me.
Granted I would like some real time in my day, like the time I am taking to type this free writing in, to write and I would like it to be regular and for a few hours duration, but that’s not how it is, and maybe this is the time in my life for action and doing and maybe things are being nutted down in my mind for later on, or maybe not. Its no great drama either way.
The most important thing to me is to live, to be alive and somehow I know all else will follow. I remember an episode of “The Young Ones” when Neil had exams on. He sat at the exam table and ceremoniously arranged all his favourite ‘Gonks” and pencils all round his desk. Arranged and re arranged, and suddenly the exam was over. “Ding” He had missed the exam.
For me living in that house surrounded by all that flotsam would be a bit like missing the exam.