When I first arrived at KSP, I struggled with the silence. Used to working in the bustle of a busy café or with my cat meowing for attention, it was a bit unnerving at first. However, I quickly learned to appreciate the clarity of thought silence can bring and, within a couple of days, I had decided that silence was the bee’s knees (as was watching the actual bees through the window of Clarke cabin). Of course, it never was truly silent – my writerly thoughts formed against a backdrop of magpies warbling, the occasional crow adding its two-cents’ worth.
During my two-week stay, my aim was to finish restructuring the plot of my YA novel and to write a decent chunk of the third draft. I embraced having so much physical space dedicated solely to my writing and immediately spread out my index cards in a story arc on the rug, revelling in the knowledge that no one but me would have to tip-toe around them. Each card was labelled with a plot point, and for the first three days of my residency I could be found pacing my cabin, muttering to myself and occasionally pausing to shift cards back and forth – the picture of creative madness. By day four, I had settled on my new plot structure and had written a new synopsis. Then I was off! By the end of my stay, I had completed over 20,000 words of my third draft. I had also attended a writing group, a workshop, and a library event, through which I developed my skills and knowledge.
One of the highlights of my stay was an unexpected visit from a neighbourhood cat, as is evident from the camera roll on my phone (two photos of my cabin, three-thousand of my furry friend). It was nearing the end of the two weeks and I was missing my own fur-babies when, sensing the opportunity for some belly-rubs, in strutted a fluffy tabby – bringing half the Australian bush with her. I picked the leaf-litter from her fur and, in return, she helped me shred some discarded notes. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement.
While having the dedicated time and space in which to write was amazing, I’m not sure I would have survived two weeks in solitude, even with my feline friend. Fortunately, my two fellow residents – Tineke and Ingrid – were incredibly warm, open, and generous with their knowledge and experience. The three of us cooked, ate, and drank wine together on Katharine’s veranda most evenings, even adventuring out for a couple of meals. Through talking with them, I gained insight into the process of memoir-writing, developed an appreciation for spoken-word poetry, and deepened my awareness of the issues with writing about minority groups. I also learned how to cook eggplant to perfection, and probably consumed more salt than I’ve eaten in my life! On the final night, the three of us enjoyed a farewell dinner, including readings from each of our works-in-progress. I found their feedback on my work hugely encouraging.
I am deeply grateful to the KSP Writers’ Centre for allowing me the opportunity to participate in the Fellowship program. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer setting in which to work on my novel and to develop friendships with like-minded people. I strongly encourage other young emerging writers to apply – it is an opportunity not to be missed.
Applications to KSP's 2019 Fellowship program open on Monday 20 August: