Write On!

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“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
~ Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing


Over the next four days I’ll be on retreat. Not one I’m running, but one I’m attending. Hopefully I’ll have some phone reception while I’m there, so that I can sneak out a post or two for you!

For the past several years I’ve belonged to a small band of writers – a support crew of writing ‘sisters’ – and this coming long weekend we have hired a house in the countryside so that we can all sit in various corners hammering out vast quantities of wordage. Just for this weekend we have left our day jobs behind, our partners, our families, our worldly responsibilities. All that will matter is our writerly selves, our current writing projects, and words on the page. As the words pile up we’ll share a meal, drink tea and discuss life, writing and everything in between.

I was too ill to attend our last retreat, so I’m super excited to be able to get to this one, and I’ve made a deal with my doctor to delay my Drug Number Four by two days so that I can make the most of this break away. Even if I have to spend all weekend in bed, writing in my pyjamas, I shall be there. Writing!!!! Oh my goodness, I adore crafting words into stories and learning tools. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s agony. Writing has been a deep and abiding love in my life since I was a small girl.


My plan for the weekend is to create an editing schedule for the fiction manuscripts I’ve finished in the past year, rework my writing plan for my next memoir instalment and my non-fiction books that are still all in pieces, and then I will start work on something completely new – an idea that has me totally abuzz. Goodness, I am SO grateful to have my mind back, and to be able to finally write well. Taking these horrid drugs for my lyme disease, although wretched, has been totally worth it just for that simple fact – my brain is working again after too many years of being a barren wasteland. As my health is slowly returning I can write! My memory works, my imaginative is technicolour instead of monochrome, and words that long eluded me are now flowing from my fingertips.

I feel like a kid about to go on a long-awaited school camp. My bag is packed. I have my journals, my file cards, my favourite pencil case and my writing laptop (the one with no games, work, emails or other distractions).There’s a box full of food. I’ve baked a cake. And I managed to sneak some chocolate in with the farm-fresh vegetables.

Let the fun begin. 🙂

What are you doing over the weekend? I really hope you can find a little time to work on your dreams too! Lots of love to you, Nicole xx

Poor Form, or Confessions from a Bookstore, Byron Style.


So, I unexpectedly find myself in downtown Byron Bay, at a bookshop cafe, while I wait for a friend.

Except for a brief visit to a second-hand book store on the way to a friend’s funeral a few weeks ago it has been many months since I’ve been in a bookshop. It’s been too long since I’ve had my head buried in a book of any description.

And what I also realise as I sit here sipping chai, is that it’s been too long since I have lost myself in that world that is my own land of story. The characters sit languid, waiting, growing paler and more indistinct.

I have the usual excuses; life, health, family, a crazy schedule…

But it’s all bullshit really.  I recognise a pattern sneaking back into my life where I make everything else momentarily more important that words on the page.  How have I forgotten this basic fact – writing matters to me.  Viscerally matters. I sit here in this bookshop space and it’s like an oxygen mask applied to a dying woman.

Stupid uncontrollable tears trickle down my face. A fat one plops off my nose and onto my keyboard.  I love that I am in Byron.  The woman at the next table doesn’t bat an eye.  She hands me a tissue and smiles.  I smile back.  We grin dopily at each other.

“It’s the books,” I explain.

“I know,” she says in a hushed whisper.  “So many books and I never give myself permission to just sit down and read.”

Yes, I nod. So many books and mine aren’t amongst them yet.  It’s not a competitive thing, or a jealousy thing.  It’s more like being heavily pregnant, waddling with the discomfort of a belly swollen beyond its measure, and ankles fat with fluid from an overburdened system. I’m writing all the time, but not the one story, not that one story that sings me to sleep each night and waits for me in the dusky dawn.

I’m bursting with discomfort and I know it won’t let up until I give birth to a fully-formed story.  I need to sit here in this awful aching until I can hold this creative outpouring in my hands in some viable form.

The woman at the next table is sobbing now. But it’s Byron.  I move my chair across and hug her.  She hugs me back.  And when we’re done, she goes off to buy a book, and I sit down at my laptop…

Just before she leaves, she comes back to my table, a bundle of books in her arms.  “A book a month,” she says to me.  “I’m promising you I’ll read one book a month.”

“Four hours a week,” I smile back.  “I’ll write words just for me, four hours a week.  We hug again.  No tears this time.  

Somewhere far from here, a bright speck in my imagination, a boy called James sits up taller and calls my name from the deck of his pirate ship.  He remembers me.  He waited. Together we sail off into unexplored waters…