Write for enjoyment, write to engage with the page to see what a line of text can turn into, to figure out how far you can push the sentence; to use — ; — ,* & # . ! ? Write in first, second or third person. Write from an omniscient perspective, or a limited one. Watch the focus of the world you create, change. Write to find something forgotten, or to discover something you never knew.
Write for remembrance, the paper thin skin of your grandmother, the light of childhood when you were closer to the ground and everyone around you was taller. How it felt to look up. How it felt when adults looked down. How the heat from the road radiated up your legs and how the sun settled on your skin. When you were all freckles, when tall grass came up to your waist and every daisy was opportunity. Write of the long bus rides and train rides home after school, the walk from the bus stop in a uniform you couldn’t wait to remove, of getting caught in rain showers and finally taking your socks and shoes off—the warm smell of sweat mixed in with the heat and rain.
Write for discovery. Of finding a freckle in your mother’s hairline as you comb her hair back in the January heat. Of discovering just how long it can take a loved one to die, of sitting vigil in a sick room, the smell of the vomit held in a four litre plastic ice-cream container sitting against the twists of nylon carpet; of paddling an urn of ashes two kilometres out over a storm surging tide.
Of warming arms around a fifty-five gallon drum on the edge of the desert, the smell of the fire, its waving lines creating patterns in the air and the kick of the kerosene used to light it. The super chill of the settling night. The way a flannelette shirt feels resting against the hairs on your arms. Write of darkness and stars in the sky. Write of daybreaks.
Of writing assignments as the petals on the Jacaranda trees begin to bloom, and the change of seasons is on the breeze. Of writing in winter, even though your limbs are frozen and the heating is too expensive to turn on. The smell of the electric radiator as it is turned on and off. Give these thoughts to a character, see what comes out.
Write for warning, the slamming of a screen door caught in a thunderstorm, the empty house beyond; the rooms you think you know but how they look when the walls mirror the lightening strikes in the sky. How rolling thunder fills an empty house. What a house smells like once all the furniture has been removed, and there is only dust and the occasional cobweb remaining.
Write to understand a world in ruins and what the shape of rebuilding looks like, read about global warming. Turn facts to flesh.
Write of wonder: finding old pennies caught in the cracks of rocks, the smell of the leather in the back of the old Holden. Of seeing the Golden Gate bridge for the first time, or Mt Rushmore, or the lily pond of Angkor Wat at sunrise; the Mt Everest base camp. Of driving tiny, winding roads in overcrowded buses, of discovering back roads where your tongue is not spoken and strangers are not catered for.
Write for the monotony of a trip to Perisher sitting on the back seat without any music or sound from your mother; driving dusty roads that turn to snow. Write about the gulf between the understanding of children and adults. Write about long afternoons with salt staining your skin after the morning’s swim, write about reading magazines in a room that no longer exists, when the magazine doesn’t either. Write about imaginary places that you have never visited, but you know like the back of your hand. Write about nothing; make something from nothing. Write stories for your scars. Write about the Berlin Wall, top forty music on the ARIA charts; of spending Saturday mornings in a second hand bookshop or the record store. Write about fishing trips you never had.
Write for your mother, your grandmother and grandpa, your aunts and uncles. Write to remember the world as they knew it. Don’t forget the willow patterned dinner set with only one unbroken piece left.
If one of these thoughts catch in your mind like a wind chime catches the light, please use it to write.
KA Rees writes poetry and short fiction. Her poems and stories can be found in all the suspect places.
Her short story, ‘Butterscotch,’ was shortlisted during our last competition and published in the resulting anthology, We’ll Stand In That Place and Other Stories.