“I didn’t come to the waterhole to write this blog. But there was something about lying with my belly over a warm slab of granite, a wide sweep of water curling around my toes, that compelled me to go back to the car, retrieve a pen and write on the inside sleeve of Writing In Flow. My notebooks are back at my accommodation. My retreat.

It’s taken years for me to style my own writer’s retreat. There’s never been a good time. I have always prioritised something else.

But, guess what? Now is no better … A story to tell is booming. (Thank you!) Husband Tim is flat out and needs my support. And yet.

Here I am by a creek that pours into a lake in the heart of the Strathbogie Ranges, having finished another draft of my novel. Ahhhh. And how am I celebrating? By going for a swim and writing stuff down. I do love words pouring.

It’s early autumn. The paddocks are yellow and hard, yet the creek still flows and the nights are damp. This is also how we need to be – no matter how dry our creativity becomes, we need to know that we, only we, have the capacity to break the drought.”  

   (Written 15 March 2014)

Two months later I’ve had time to drop the ball, lose the ball, find it, start bouncing it again, kick it, pick it up, fumble it … (Is that enough metaphor? Were you getting giddy?) And my ball-handling skills were challenged partly because I stole that week to play with my novel.

But, since making a public commitment to my creative self last fortnight, I’ve very nearly got the first draft of a short story down. I’ve achieved this mainly because, as Missy Higgins so gorgeously put it at Big Hearted Business 2014, ‘Don’t take any shit from yourself’. Lately, I’ve taken very little shit from myself!

And it’s been a challenge. More lovely writing, editing and coaching work has come in. My family and friends have needed my support. Creative writing is still the first to go when other deadlines loom.

Do I want to be a creative writer? Yes.

Do I want to play with words? Yes?

Do I also want to earn a good living from what I love doing? Hell, yeah!

Perhaps I need another retreat? Maybe. But I do know this: I need to treat and re-treat myself and then do it again. There are many reasons that I can’t afford a regular week away, but there’s no excuse not to grip with both hands those smaller, less glamorous moments.

Another wise nugget springs to mind when I reflect on reasons versus excuses, again from BHB14. This time in the form of a question from The Cat Empire’s band manager, Corinne Wilkie: ‘What’s holding you back?’

She insisted we question this question, and don’t stop til we’ve uncovered the deep reason … not the ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘Life’s a struggle, juggle or we’ve just got a new puggle’ palaver. As Danielle LaPorte said, ‘We’re all busy! The women on the prairies were busy! It’s your diary – do what you want.’

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I highly recommend Halcyon Hideaway – a great place for a writing retreat, two hours’ north of Melbourne in the granite country of the Strathbogies Ranges.

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