It’s a superb day outside. I’ve been for a lunch-hour run, followed by a swim in the big blue, and the beach is crowded with people already on Christmas holidays. This is the kind of day people come for, Sydney at its finest, and it does take my cares away just being out there amongst it. I’m sitting at my desk in my swimmers and a sarong – my usual summer work wardrobe, much to everyone else’s complete disgust. I can see why my attire might lead some people to think I do nothing but swan around Man Town working on my tan day after day, but you and I know it’s just not true.
It’s been a cracking year in many ways, 2008. When I started the year, one big goal was finding a community of writers. This time last year, I had just “met” one fellow writer via this blog. We’re still regularly in touch on email and plan to meet up again in person when she hits Sydney in January. Then I stalked another writer after that humiliating and bizarre morning at the Getting Published event at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I made a beeline for her because she seemed, you know, normal, and when she said she lived here too, in Man Town, and above what cafe, I delightedly filed the information away, and then set about finding her when I returned from Melbourne. She’s great, a real laugh, and I can’t wait to lay my hands on her MS when she’s ready to show it to me. We caught up again last week, and I had the opportunity to introduce her to a few of my other freelance friends over lunch and a few vinos. She’s a classy lady and a genuine scream, so of course the other freelancers basically handcuffed her to the table. We all have an excursion planned for early January that promises to be hysterical (research, you understand, it’s all about the research). At some point in the year, Pete from Couchtrip started visiting DoctorDi, then recently came Litlove, thanks to Pete, and to have these two writerly, readerly, truly decent souls gently drift across the ether into my world has been one of the nicest gifts of the World Wide Web.
And then in September came Varuna and the mother lode of meeting the Darklings. Have I really only known them just three months? It doesn’t seem possible. Now I can’t imagine my writing life without them. So there I was just over a year ago, all alone with the mountain looming before me, without a single writer friend to share the journey. And it is a hard road. It’s good to have friends along the way – all friends, of course, yes please – but those who are undertaking the same insanity bring a special something to the sickness we all share. I know my MS would not be anywhere near where it is but for the conversations I have had with other writers this year. The author Charlotte Wood so generously availed herself to me a couple of months ago, and it was during my coffee with her that I had the eureka moment that has forever transformed my manuscript. I found a plot – yes, nearly two years in, I’m not even remotely exaggerating – during that conversation, and I felt so clammy once we parted company because I knew that moment for what it was. It was the moment I knew what my book was. There was a rapid-fire volley of texts between us later that afternoon as I ran off to get some research material, and when I confessed that I was “sweating with excitement,” Charlotte knew just what I meant. And when I shared my idea with the Darklings, it was the excitement they picked up on first of all.
I have needed these people all my life – do you know that? I have so many fantastic, special, gifted, creative, hilarious, just top notch people I count as friends – I even got one to marry me, miracle of miracles – that it is verging on obscene. I love them, they mean the world to me, so I didn’t really know until this past year that I was missing the company of other writers, and that I would benefit from having them near. I was just about to wonder what might have happened had I started my search sooner, but I stopped myself, because it doesn’t matter. They’re here now. And of that goal I made this time last year, it gives me great pleasure to say ‘Mission Accomplished,’ and thanks.