2016 has been a very big year. I haven’t posted here as often as I’d have liked to, and I’m sorry for that. Big 2016 = crazy-busy + beautiful-wonderful + tumultuous-difficult, and I know I’m not the only one to come careering down the hill towards a new year feeling a combination of exhausted, relieved and hopeful.
I’ve had so many excellent and nourishing experiences this year, from helping to celebrate Fremantle Press’s 40th anniversary to being a guest at The Literature Centre’s national Celebrate Reading conference; being writer-in-residence over two terms at John Curtin College of the Arts and touring the Pilbara with The Literature Centre. I also had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old teacher from high school – ‘Miss Jones’ – who had a big, positive influence on me as a teenager. It was brilliant to see her again and to swap stories and memories.
On the challenging side, I’ve had a painful wrestle with the black dog this year. It’s not the first time and perhaps it won’t be the last, but I’m happy to be able to put it in the past tense. Again, I know I’m not alone in this struggle.
So I’d like to share something that happened this year with a student.
I met this particular young woman several times over a series of creative writing workshops at her school and on first meeting she couldn’t look at me or share her name. She returned for the following session, though, and the next and the next. A few weeks in she started to make eye contact with me and with her classmates and engage in the writing activities, in her own way. I sensed she was attending the sessions for something more vital than the writing discussions I was ostensibly offering. So, when she missed a session, I asked her friend to pass on a book I’d pulled off my shelves for her. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen. At our last session, she gave the friend the book to return to me, with a note inside. This is it.
What an amazing young woman. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to work with her.
See you next year, everyone.