Ayesha Inoon: I Had the Gift of Time and Space to Write, Dream and Think
Muted sunlight filters through the wooden blinds in my cabin, scattering on the wide desk where I have been writing, on the snug reading chair, the rug on the floor.
Outside, the wind whispers through the leaves, traffic rumbles in the distance. Bright violet bougainvillea, crimson roses nod and sway. The bees hum contentedly in the bee tree opposite the cabin.
In a moment, I will rise and prepare for my day at KSP – meditate or do yoga, go for a walk, and then settle down to write. I write throughout the day, taking breaks to sometimes look out the window, read or wander in the garden while I try and untangle a scene or a character.
I fall asleep and wake up dreaming of my characters. They come to life in vivid detail, pursuing their heart’s desires while I try to keep up, capturing moments on the page.
Sometimes I go up to the office and chat with lovely Sofija. She tells me stories about KSP and the writer to whom the space once belonged. She shows me Katharine’s cosy library with its quaint writing desk and shelves filled with books, the special corner reserved for ones written by members of KSP.
In the evenings I go up to the main house to have dinner with my fellow writer Julie U’Ren. We share stories and laughter, talking not just about books and writing but of our life journeys, where we have been, where we dream of going. One night we join a writing group, and listen to snippets of their writing, bravely share some of our own.
On another day I have the delightful experience of meeting WA author Rashida Murphy. She gives me incredibly encouraging and helpful feedback on my manuscript and we discover we have many things in common as we share stories of our lives. Knots unravel in my writing, journeys become clearer. Later she tells me that she felt as though she had met a sister or cousin she had known for a long time. I feel the same way.
At the end of the week, I leave with a fuller manuscript and an even fuller heart. I hug Julie, grateful for the time we have spent together, the connection we have made that I hope will remain as we return to our respective homes in Darwin and Canberra.
I know the weeks ahead will be busy as I return to my life as a mother, writer and full-time employee, and I am glad to have stepped away from it all for this one week in my little cabin, where I had the gift of time and space to write, dream and think.
Ten tips for writing at KSP
Be specific in your planning. Each evening, make a note of when and what you will write the next day. And then stick to it, even if as Hemingway says you just ‘sit at your typewriter (laptop?) and bleed’. The words will come.
Plan your break as well, to avoid sitting at your desk and staring out the window (although I must admit this can also be an enjoyable way to spend a break). Take walks, do a workout in your cabin, listen to some music, chat with the bees.
Share your writing with others, whether fellow residents or in a writing group. Offer to read and give feedback on their work as well – there is a magic that happens when writers get together.
Book a mentorship session with one of the authors listed on the KSP website. Whatever stage your writing career is at, you can always benefit from the experience and guidance of other established writers.
Spend some time in the library browsing through books written by other KSP members for inspiration.
Have a chat with KSP staff and volunteers – in my case the lovely Sofija and Fern, from whom I learned so much more about Katharine Susannah Prichard, her life’s work and the treasures of her home and gardens.
Take time to feed yourself nourishing, enjoyable meals that require little effort (I learned how to make microwave eggs!). Make sure you treat yourself too, whether that be with chocolate, a glass of wine, or whatever makes you happy!
Read. Flood your mind with words and see how they transform and evolve in your own work as you write.
Don’t get caught up in worrying about details in your work (unless that’s what you’re there to do). Remember that first drafts are about telling yourself the story.
Don’t judge the success of your residency by word count. If much of your time was spent lying on the floor and gazing at the lights outside your window – then, that was still time well spent. Trust that your mind has done what it needs to do.
Ayesha Inoon KSP Fellow - March 2023