Throughout my writing life, there have been spaces to dream and create something new. Spaces where I could be all of me through expressing something of my self in that moment. As a teenager, I would write in my study, into the darkest part of the night, or sometimes the light of day would find me on the lawns of the State library, journal in my lap, scribbling away, about love, life and the universe. At the age of 24, I set off to 'find myself', backpacking through Europe, accompanied by a new leather-bound journal, a sense of wonder and dreams of so many possible futures. Train carriages, hostel rooms and by the banks of rivers Seine and Rhine were among my writing spots. In my thirties, 'domestic bliss' and broken hearts saw me writing midnight poetry at my old teak desk, by the light of a kerosene lamp. As the relationships faltered, my writing space also became too unstable. No longer my sanctuary. No dreams remained. Nothing left to create.
I took my pen and my journals to my getaway, a holiday shack at Airey's Inlet, down by the Great Ocean Road. Accompanied by solitude, eucalyptus trees and the sounds of the ocean, I would write and walk and write some more. Warmed by the sun and the occasional whiskey and wine, by candle and moon light I would find my way back to myself through the solace of my words. In the past few years, the journals of the past have given way to word documents and blog entries in a vast and sometimes unfamiliar landscape. Armed with laptop and plenty of stories to tell, I would head down to my favourite cafe, enconce myself at my usual spot in the corner and tap away on the keyboards. Drinking lattes while writing love letters and romantic poetry. How very cafe society. The dream was still alive.
Last year, for the first time in my working life, I found a writing space set apart from the rest of my life, a true retreat from the real world of writing curriculum and grading essays. Living in a downtown loft in a city faraway from home, for 4 hours a day, I could devote all my energy to writing. No work commitments. No distractions. Simply a room with a view of snow covered rooftops and time to myself. And a deep and lasting love that is finally reciprocated equally by another. The dream had been realised. In trawling back through all my old writing haunts, I have come to realise that for me, it's not so much the location that inspires and releases the muse, it's the time and space, and the expansive views, inside my mind. I am grateful to be able to retreat into these mindscapes from time to time. And ever thankful for the love.
Footnote to the spaces: this year I hope to give myself the gift of attending a writers' retreat in Banff, Canada. If not, then in one month from now, I will leave this place I call home and return to the loft and the love, to once again live the life of a writer. Counting down the days.
Causes Cindy Sullivan Supports
Plan: 'Because I'm a Girl'
Fred Hollows Foundation