by Kim Kelly
This is my road home from the shops, a place that changes its shapes and colours with the seasons. Now, it’s fifty shades of green; in summer it turns to straw; in winter, bare-branch grey; autumn flashes red and gold. And always this enormous sky: blue or bruised, it’s beautiful.
This black-ribbon road strings my two worlds together: whatever story I might be writing, and what I need to pick up for dinner. Deciding what I’ll put on my husband’s sandwiches for the week as I grapple with my imaginary hero’s journey: my present companion, back in 1883, doesn’t want to get married at all. She’s a scientist.
My narrative goes where it needs to go, into country held deep in my heart. Every writing day is a new combination of blind bends and crests, a new blend of exhilaration and terror.
I’m responsible for the soundness of this abstract engine, for keeping my story from veering off the road, or crashing head-on with another. Alone, I’m the one who has to turn on the ignition and ease her up the potholed track; some days, I only get as far as the gate; it’s too hard.
Harder than any unkind review; harder than waiting for publishing news; harder than walking across the smashed-glass of other writers’ despair: ew, I hated that book; urgh, I loathe anything written in present tense; god, first person hist fic is soooo pretentious – none of these things said to me, of me, but that might as well have been. They say: give up, there’s no point, it’s all hopeless – as though any writer needs help with issuing that instruction to themselves.
My scientist won’t have a bar of it, though. She’s intrigued by the movement of particles: in the sky, in ashes blown from Krakatoa, and in the water, in the limestone floating in the pools of Jenolan. She’s also about to fall in love.
And the road home, our road, is paved with joy. I can’t wait to write her story – however she wants it told.