You didn’t know why this compulsion to write had hit you now, but it had sideswiped you in a way that left you reeling, breathless.
You had always liked the idea of writing, but this was different. It’d come like a wave of urgency, leaving you dizzy and discombobulated.
Like the first thrill of a love affair, it was all you could think about. Having been employed in the university world for the past decade, you had written academic things, of course, a few texts and articles. Now, your head was buzzing with stories—your stories—and you felt compelled to get them down.
But why now, this desire to move beyond academia and write? Was this about getting older, about making sense of your own life, your own history? Hardly contemplation time with two kids still at school, you thought, sitting in the car line, waiting for the school bell to go and the littlest one to come rushing out, curls flying.
You felt a sense of urgency to read as well, essays or memoir-based stories in particular. Thank goodness; it made you feel less absorbed in your own stories, which played on a constant loop in your head.
You had specific authors in mind who resonated, whose thoughts and ideas had lodged in your mind, resurfacing now and then in your thoughts, and you were drawn back to them.
You’d read Helen Garner over the years. Who hasn’t? An icon in Australian literature who writes nonfiction and semi-autobiographically, her prolific career spanning four decades.
You remembered discussing her with a friend— having both just read, and loved, one of her books— years ago…