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Terena Boniwell: 'A Most Faithful Chair'

Terena Boniwell stayed at KSP Writers' Centre as a Writer-in-Residence in February/March 2022.

Opening the door of Clarke’s cottage at KSP Writers’ Centre I felt the air thicken, bird song’s dulled, the drone of bees faded, and the slight breeze stilled. I paused and took note; had I packed my courage, my persistence, my imagination? Taking a breath I stepped through the portal, the hairs on my neck prickled, my stomach flipped. My time had come.

In the room was a large desk under a picture window through which I could survey the world I had left behind. A large black desk chair with sturdy arm waited, patiently. Sitting down I felt the chair hug me tight. Like a childhood friend ready to lay beside me and whisper secrets at an all-night sleepover. ‘What adventure’s we’ll have,’ my chair whispered quietly. This chair would be my driving seat. The commanders chair from which I would navigate my story world over the next two weeks. It was warm and quietly confident. How many people had it shepherded before me?

Over the two weeks the chair held me as I explored unknown terrain, it carried me when I was weary and didn’t know which way to go. It nudged me quietly back to the desk, the window, the conscientious bees humming about their work, when I needed to resurface. The chair never flinched with my cries of frustration, or my whoops of delight.

While I slept the chair kept watch, vigilant and ready for when night-time inspiration surged. It found rhythm when I needed to swing in anticipation. It swung with purpose when I rose triumph for refreshments. It sat quietly, like a faithful dog when I was lost.

For two weeks I traversed my world. From beginning to end and sometime sideways. Each day I waited to falter and run out of energy and each morning my chair greeted me. It delighted in my surprise that I could work so solidly for so long. It appreciated my gratitude for this space that had been gifted to me.

In the evening when my chair nudged me back to reality, I would head up to the balcony of the main house. I would meet with my fellow resident, marvel at the beautiful grounds, the stunning views. Had they been there all day? I had barely noticed them. The warm summer evenings were the perfect time to listen to the rustle of the eucalypt trees and to bathe in the earthy scents of Katharine’s garden. Trading triumphs and obstacles with my fellow writer fuelled my spirit. Afterwards, as I returned to Clarke’s cottage, I would pause on the doorstep and take note. I had more courage, more persistence and plentiful imagination. Stepping through the portal the hairs on my neck prickled and there, in front of me, was my chair. Waiting. Welcoming. Faithful.

Top Ten Tips for a KSP Fellowship

1. Trust in the rhythm of writing. The surge, the flow, the stalemate, the confusion, the inspiration.

2. Start each morning with a word. What is the first word? Then the sentence. Then the paragraph.

3. Embrace the editing. Celebrate that your work has reached a new level.

4. Set goals and reward yourself with whatever works for you. Chocolate, wine, a walk. For me it was meeting with my fellow resident every evening for a wine and a debrief.

5. Read beautiful writing, gorgeous characters, amazing worlds. They fill you up and remind you of what you are aiming for.

6. Have an inspiring playlist of songs to listen to on breaks. Mine are mostly film scores and they remind me of the power of story.

7. Play. Use the fridge magnets and word games supplied in the writer’s cabins. Again, these are inspiring and help to refill your creative bucket.

8. Meet with your fellow residents. For comradeship on the journey. I found energy, inspiration, and friendship from my fellow resident.

9. Think about all your senses, anything that will help you to stay focused and creative. I used chewing gum, herbal teas, and inspiring essential oils in hand creams.

10. Pack supplies for your adventure. Two weeks is a long and sometimes gruelling journey. Pack chicken soup and chocolate. Also, wine!

~ Terena Boniwell 2022


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