Since my last post about high tea in Melbourne, I have enjoyed another two events (in Brisbane and Sydney) with booksellers, who are smart, funny and creative people who absolutely LOVE books with all their might. Where in the world would we be without booksellers? I can’t even imagine but I know that’s not a world I want to live in.
You see, I spend a lot of time in bookshops, gazing at books as others might gaze at works of art in a museum, smelling the books (it might be a tad addictive), and writing. I sit quietly in corners, on couches, and sometimes on the floor. I find immense inspiration in the words and images already in print and there’s something just a little bit transcendental about absorbing the best of what surrounds me.
And I also listen (eavesdrop is really too strong a word) to the booksellers. And they are amazing. People come in and ask the most vague or helpless question about a book they want but can’t remember the name of, or about the gift they need to buy for their child/ neighbour/ boss/ crazy uncle, and those booksellers SELL. My word they do. But they don’t just hand over anything. Their passion and belief in a book spills over in their words and gestures and the customer smiles with relief and walks away happy. And I sit there with my notebook/laptop, pulling words from my brain for my next book, and I think, ‘Wow, I hope someone does that for my book one day.’
For me, the greatest part of the high teas was getting to talk to these champions of books and authors and publishers, hear how they constantly reinvent themselves to compete with global markets, and admire their tenacity and wit.
This Christmas, buy books! For everyone in your life, from your mother to your dog. And support the booksellers who are out there every day keeping our books alive.
Me with my friend, Kathleen, who came with me to Sydney, doing the tourist thing and stopping for a selfie.
She works hard for the money… so hard for the money…
So this is how my writing retreat went:
Stayed in a gorgeous wee house, ‘Amelie’s Petite Maison’ at The Spotted Chook in Montville.
All alone for first time since my baby was born eight months ago… very weird but not totally unpleasant.
Had to extricate a huntsman spider out of my wee house ALL BY MYSELF!! For the record, I don’t DO spiders. My husband does the spiders and snakes; I do the rodents. Such is the perils of being all alone. Spider relocated outside in good health; I aged about ten years.
Engaged in many long soaks in the clawfoot bath.
Drank copious amounts of tea.
Ate chocolate healthy food.
Had a massage.
Suffered through the Worst High Tea in History (apologies to my sister for being subjected to that). On the upside, it actually inspired a change in the scene I was intending to write and I think it’s a better scene now, so all not lost.
Drank a cocktail with my sister after the Worst High Tea in History to make up for said suffering.
Oh yes, and worked long hours and finished my latest draft of The Tea Chest, ready to hand over to my publisher. Hooray!
And can I say what a brilliant job my husband did of looking after our bubbalicious, the furry children and the house all by himself for three days. What a superstar! Thank you xx
I’m starting to tingle already in anticipation of where I’m headed tomorrow: for three nights at the gorgeous Spotted Chook in Montville, on the Sunshine Coast hinterland. With much relief and joy, I’m heading away all by myself to work on my novel and this is my greatest wish for my birthday weekend, the best present a girl could have. Just me, the mountains, beautiful surrounds, my manuscript, my laptop and more chocolate than humanly possible to consume healthy food.
I need peace and quiet, no internet connection, and dedicated emotional space to finish the current draft I’m working on before it moves to its next stage towards publication. And it’s always about this time in a novel’s development that I begin to feel like it’s really maturing, so I’m excited to see in which directions it will grow in the next few days.
For me, writing retreats are not just a luxury (because sometimes they just involve locking myself in an office for extended periods of time) but an absolute necessity. It’s where the outer layers begin to peel away and I get to the core of my story, my characters and my abilities–What’s underneath that? And what’s underneath that? And that?? Push further. Go deeper. There! There it is!! Hooray!
Oh, and did I mention I’m going to high tea with my sister for the purpose of RESEARCH!? Ah huh… yep.