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Trish Versteegen: 'It felt really good to be back'

Trish Versteegen stayed at KSP in April/May 2022 as a Flash Fellow.

'Lucky me had a second crack at a fellowship this year after my first two weeks at KSP in 2021. This time around was a one-week flash fellowship, a more manageable bite of time to excuse myself from work and family. I figured April would be a perfect time of year for writing – and I was right –with mild and sunny days and nights cold enough to get cosy.

Finding my keys were for Clarke cabin was like being shown to a familiar seat at the table, I knew where things were and could settle straight in. A welcome party of two quendas scuttled by as I climbed the steps and I could hear the drone of the resident bees out front. It felt really good to be back.

At my previous fellowship, around a year earlier, I had been in the first aspirational stage of my novel and looking to beef up the word count. Now I had the requisite words – but not in any finished form. My confidence had fallen away. I was, terrified, actually, that the whole thing was not going to come together at all.

When I sat myself down at the desk and laid out my things in view of the buzzing bees, I decided on my goal for the week. It would be just to re-engage with my words. If I could do that and get back some energy and belief, then the rest should surely follow.

Last year I had made good use of the whiteboard, so I started with that, mapping out what I was trying to say in my novel - boiling back down to central ideas and themes. I filled the white space with words from all the coloured pens, and left it there for the week to look at and think about.

Meeting the other fellows was a bonus – two inspiring, encouraging and fun women. The conversations about writing and books over a glass of wine at the end of each day were a tonic. I was lucky to share the week with two accomplished writers, both generous in sharing their own experience and showing an interest in mine.

Like last year, I walked every day in the national park, which has become my ‘happy place’. The bush, the air, the golden morning light creeping over the valley. Watchful kangaroos and all kinds of birds – cockatoos, 28s, magpies, ravens, honeyeaters and blue fairy wrens. Just magic.

By the end of the week, I felt calmer, more confident and ready to keep working on my novel. Sitting out in the rambling garden on my last day, one of the wonderful KSP team spoke of ‘the spirit of Katherine,’ that seems to be a guiding presence, especially when writers are stuck. I think I knew what she meant.'

~ Trish Versteegen May 2022


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