Walks, missing headphones and autumn

By Maria-Doogan

The start of autumn and we’ve been blessed with gentle sunshine, cooling breezes and a kind of energy in the air that lends itself to getting out and about. 

Oh yeah, I know, the footy has started. But I’m kinda like the colleague at work who, when I said “the footy has started”, replied hesitatingly, “foot …ty” in two slow syllables and with zero recognition. 

So the weather and change of season has meant more walks and a happier Staffy – so happy, in fact, that she gets about with a permanent grin usually reserved to the seconds immediately preceding a walk and dinner (which typically takes a few seconds from start to finish and is inhaled). 

My son (the younger one who knows infinitely more than me) had put my reading on hold by snaffling my headphones – the type that fits into the phone that has inconveniently removed its generic headphone jack. 

So I snuck up to his lair, which is on the top floor of the house, and found them there while creeping about surreptitiously and trying not to look too closely at anything at all. I maintain that a certain degree of deliberate naivety is necessary to preserve the sanity of parents of teenagers. 

The audible book I had been listening to before the snaffling was a self-help book by American author, Mel Robbins. I have this theory about self-help books based on years of experience that they only help when you are ready to be helped. 

She talks about finding your purpose and your passion – facing the fear that you may fail in the quest to find it and keep in mind, all along the way, that it’s not about having a goal that needs to be single-mindedly achieved, but rather, finding your way – from one stepping stone to the next. 

So, I think my passion is writing. But I also think my passion is not exactly the free flowing and joyful exercise I associate with a “passion”. I spend an awful lot of time thinking about my old ideas and creative concepts, dismissing them as lame, and then coming up with a whole new set, or variations on the old set, dismissing them as lame. Pause. Rinse. Repeat. 

As if that’s not torture enough, I also tend to record my ideas and passages of writing on different devices and platforms and in numerous files. At last count I had 70. This makes it very difficult to create a cohesive whole that may pass for a “short story”, “novella” or, “novel”. If you could publish scraps then I would be set. I could approach a publisher with a suitcase full of them. 

Scraps aside, I have been reading another Tim Winton novel – one of his earliest, Cloudstreet. It’s an amazing read and totally unlike anything of his I’ve read. 

Think magic realism and pigs that talk in tongues, ghosts and an omniscient narrator who is the integrated whole of one of the characters damaged in a watery accident.

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