Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fire in the Water

I rang my mate Seashell today and she said, whilst schlepping her seashells to sell, 'where did you go Sarah? It feels like you've dropped off.'
'I dunno,' I answered. 'I'm here. Where did I go?'

Broke is where I've gone. This is not an economic state that I entered into but a place, though the place is conducive to the former for voluntary inmates. I went to Broke to write a book about a man who lived here a long time ago. I'd been plotting my escape for about twelve months. I've since found out that I'm living on the same property as my subject, overlooking the estuary, watching for footprints, people or boats ... feeling like royalty in paradise and at the same time that senseless, timeless, 'why am I here why am I here why am I here why.' I have only myself, no powerful kingdoms or men to overcome, only myself in those hours when the silence falls so complete it feels like profound deafness and for the first time in my life I have heard my own tinnitus.

It's not all stasis, silence, netting mullet and existential crises though. I've been working on the final edit of my novel about the sealers and Aboriginal women who travelled from Bass Strait to King George Sound in 1826. Fremantle Press are publishing the book in the first week of July. Oh my fook. That means I have another week to get a final copy to the editor, who then sends it to the copy editors. Who then check it for mistakes and that's about it. I think it goes to print in January or February. That really is bloody it.

It has a title now.
Fire in the Water.
I love this title because it involves the one scene in the book when all is right with the world. William Hook, Moennan and the child are fishing at Waychinicup and they come across phosphorescence in the water. Moennan is standing, poling the boat across the shallows. All three see the lights coming up from the sea and know there is beauty in the world that transcends every trauma and brutality they have experienced in their short lives, if only in that moment.

This week, I think I may also have a job, as well as a title for my next book.
'But you've just written a doctorate!' my uni boss said today. 'Why are you pumping diesel and making coffee?'
Because I need to turn my hand to something other than the keyboard. Because I need income. Because no woman is an island. Because books don't pay. Because I would like someone other than pig shooters to talk to. Because.

17 comments:

  1. I will always be more than willing to talk to you, Sarah. 'Broke' - what a great name for a place. If it ain't broke, don't go there. That is really good there's another coming out. X

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  2. I may meet you at a petrol station one day then Tom. I'm sure I'll recognise you.

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  3. What's in a name? Maybe you are 'broke' because you are living at Broke Inlet.

    Do you remember Battle St in Mosman Park? There was a notorious block of flats there. The street really was a battleground. Eventually they knocked down the flats and changed the name.

    I can see you pumping gas Sarah. (Robin's up for a visit to your place so we will be in touch)

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    1. Yes, I remember Battle street, or maybe it was you talking about how they changed the name.
      I'm not really broke, just dipping my toes into it (ha ha). And then when things break, like my phone and my car, being so isolated poses a whole new set of challenges.

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    2. Hi Michelle. Just a correction - they didn't demolish the flats, though they did change the name of the street from Battle Street to Murray Avenue. The flats have all been renovated and are mostly owner occupied. There is now a real community feel about the place, they even have a community vege garden...

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  5. Ah, best of luck moving in and through that headspace, and with the job. Sometimes a job's just the thing, sometimes holing up in the middle of nowhere's just the thing. I'm learning to be OK with that, with understanding that what's right one year might be something completely different the next. The formula doesn't just have to just get fine tuned occasionally, but completely overhauled.
    I'm looking at lots of snow out my window at the moment. There's a fabulous herring museum in this town, when I saw it I thought of you.

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  6. Ahh, that's wonderful advice Elizabeth. thank you.

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  7. ........fuck I need to do something else ......

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    1. I love this comment Rachel. It made me laugh.

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  8. So happy you have your title Sarah. And phosphorescence is amazing. Have experienced it once, it was magical and unforgettable and so so beautiful, on a dark dark night. Next on my list: fireflies. And northern lights I hope one day.

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  9. Evocative title. Always nice to be reminded there is transcendence in everyday beauty. And good luck with getting the job.

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  10. Thanks guys. The job is great fun. I get to talk the heads off anyone who walks in: after being alone for a few days I can be a bit twitchy!

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  11. Must be fabulous living a fictional life to feed the social media fans! Really living it would be way to inconvenient and uncomfortable, but it looks so good in print that pretending will do!!!

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  12. That's a brilliant title (in both senses).
    I remember the phosphorescence around our boat at the Poor Knights Islands, off the northern coast of New Zealand, many years ago. It lit up spectacularly when I chundered into it.

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  13. Great title Sarah, unfortunately I now have an ear-worm that won't go away...

    Smoke on the sky,
    Fire in the water.
    (Then the riff...)

    Help me please...

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