On return from the beautiful Bundanon, my head is full of thoughts and reflections.
The opportunity was made available through Accessible Arts in partnership with Bundanon Trust, and provided six artists living with disability a two-week residency.
For me this meant a number of things, not least, reflecting on how living with a mental illness impacts my life and work and makes the task of trying to write my first novel, an immense and difficult one.
I therefore felt incredible grateful to the program. And quite honestly, without it, I feel I would never have made the progress I did.
At the end of the residency I sent Catherine Cole - who thanks to my Ignite grant will be supporting me as a mentor and editor for a short time - over 70,000 words of an, albeit misshaped, draft.
The residency was therefore a gift of time and space.
What struck me most about this is how as a mother, who works in a challenging and stressful environment teaching students with high and complex needs and spends a considerable amount of time and energy managing my mental health, trying to write a book in my spare time is…hard.
When I arrived at Bundanon I was dumbstruck by just what it was to purely tend to my own needs, and simply write. What a strange and perplexing privilege that was.
My anxiety disorder has a huge impact on my ability to write and work creatively, and is often debilitating and stifling. But so to does, life.
And when all the ‘life’ things were stripped away and the sole focus was self care and writing, I made progress.
It’s not a normal or sustainable scenario and now I am back home with my family and due to return to work, I reflect on the fact that this book, if it ever gets finished, will take time. And if that means coming out with my health and family intact, then I’m down with that.
We can’t all be able in body and mind and rich enough to while away the days pontificating in beautiful bush surrounds. But it sure was nice while it lasted.