Earlier this year I received the very exciting news that I had been awarded a Creative Time Residency Fellowship from the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust. With several city options for the retreat, I chose Adelaide. Having never been here before, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to write and explore a new location. I arrived last Monday and was picked up at the airport by Barbara James, one of the lovely ladies on the Trust Committee. She drove me to the apartment via the city so I could get a glimpse of Adelaide. A few things struck me immediately. As we flew in I noticed that it’s very green and hilly around the city (guess that’s why the Adelaide Hills are so named) and once on the ground, the buildings in the city and suburbs are beautiful. The apartment is in Norwood – which is a gorgeous area. Small and perfectly formed, it reminds me of being at my grandparents’ house when I was little. It’s cosy and has everything you need for a writing retreat including a lovely big desk at which, I am sitting now.
As I flew in after midday, I spent the first afternoon getting acquainted with the apartment and the surrounding area. It’s a short walk to the excellent Norwood shopping area. I popped into Dillon’s Bookshop, which is huge and has a big reputation. I met Laura, the manager and am looking forward to doing an event with them on Saturday week (27 July). There are supermarkets and a cinema and lots of boutiques including far too many tempting shoe shops.
It was a wonderful surprise to find several treats in the apartment including home made shortbread (there goes the reformed diet plans) and fresh cut flowers too.
I find it hard being away from Ian, as we’re such a great team. It’s something I’ve had to get used to over the years – initially with school camps and excursions and this year, with touring. Although he’s been with me on the overseas trips, I’ve taken several interstate excursions and he’s stayed in Sydney working. He’s coming down for part of the time and I can’t wait until he’s here. You see, I write better when he’s around – we talk about plots and characters and he’s a fantastic listener and excellent critic.
After a fitful sleep (it’s always like that the first night away), I awoke to the sounds of silence – until 7.30am when a chainsaw buzzed to life on the block behind the apartments. Then the giant tree eating mulcher cranked up and the noise reached unbearable heights. I headed off to the shops in search of coffee and breakfast and a quiet place to read the manuscript thus far. My goals for the month are huge. I have another 30,000 words to write on Alice-Miranda In Japan and after that I plan to write Clementine Rose and the Seaside Escape. The plot for Japan is fairly well embedded with various things percolating but Seaside Escape is still forming.
I arrived back at the apartment hoping to find the noisy beasts gone, but alas that wasn’t to be. They did break for lunch and lull me into a false sense of security. I left to go to the ABC studios about midday to do an interview with Deb Tribe on 891 Adelaide. That was fun – a little nerve racking and over way too quickly. I think I’d like to have my own show, as anyone who knows me is well aware that I could talk the leg off a pot. There would be no dead air on my shift! When I returned to my little home, I saw the giant tree shredding mulcher being towed away – Hooray! Until about ten minutes later when another machine started up. That’s it – I went to investigate. The tree shredder had been replaced by a stump grinder. Yay! And when I walked around the block I counted at least 20 stumps. So I imagine they’ll be back again tomorrow. That’s okay – I’m teaching a masterclass for young writers and hoping that by the time I return, the stumps will be dust.
On walking around the block I decided to visit the Norwood Library to check on a few things for my upcoming visits. I met the lovely Debi and together we sorted out the technology requirements for the events. On the way there I came upon a sight you don’t see everyday. A little girl, a smaller boy and their mother were walking towards me and the little girl was carrying a floppy eared bunny in a basket. His name was Boston and he was adorable – and so was his owner, Abbey. I stopped for a chat – one thing led to another and it turned out they live just a few doors down from the apartment where I’m staying.
Abbey is also an Alice-Miranda fan. Fingers crossed I have at least one friendly face at my signing in Norwood.
Heading home I knew I had to get on with it. There are goals to be met. So all up on Tuesday I achieved 2500 words of the book, quite a few more in my planning journal and this little blog post. Not quite enough on the book but tomorrow’s a new day and I’m hoping for some peace and quiet – at least until the stump grinder arrives.