In case you haven’t heard, I’m currently enjoying the role of emerging writer-in-residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard (KSP) Writers’ Centre – so named because the house and surrounding grounds in the Perth foothills were once home to writer Katharine Susannah Prichard and her husband Hugo Throssell, VC.
I first heard of Katharine Susannah Prichard when I was 15 after winning an award for English. My prize? Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Haxby’s Circus. According to the author bio on the inside cover:
I know it’s nothing more than co-incidence. There’s no way my English teachers Ms Swift and Mrs Whawell (fabulous as they were) could know that almost three decades later I’d be writing at the home of it’s author. But I love the tenuous connection anyway.
Another connection, however, is perhaps more significant: when the War Widows’ Guild wanted a writer to record its history, it placed an advertisement in the KSP Writers’ Centre newsletter. Without that ad, and without my friend passing it on to me, Many Hearts, One Voice would not exist, and I would not be sitting here in my cabin with the wide desk and views across the city.
Over the past ten days, I’ve visited a number of the groups that meet regularly, to give an informal author talk and answer questions about writing Many Hearts, One Voice, and to introduce my current project. These groups range from poetry to fiction to autobiography and everything in between, so there really does seem to be something for everyone. I’ve felt so welcome, that I’m finding it difficult to decide which group/s I might join more permanently.
I always hope that sharing my writing journey will encourage others to persevere with their own; however, right now, I’m sure I’m receiving far more than anything I can offer. To have a month ensconced in this cabin, to write without being constrained by school hours, or the usual commitments and distractions – this is truly a gift.
But the gift is not only in the welcoming space to write; it is also the opportunity to recalibrate, to rework my daily rhythm, and re-evaluate the myriad activities I’m usually caught up in. Being here at Katharine’s Place has required me to say no to almost every other commitment, request and demand, when I’d normally be tempted to say yes.
I find saying no so hard, particularly if I think I’m letting someone down, or when I have two equally good options before me. But I’m hoping that when the residency draws to a close, I will return home with greater intentionality about how I choose to spend my time. This is something I’m learning from Amanda Viviers, who has a knack for blogging about the exact questions I happen to be wrestling with. Last month she wrote:
I am certainly not there yet. But, I’m working on it.
And in the meantime, I will appreciate every day I spend here at Katharine’s Place.
PS. If you’d like to check out what’s on offer at the KSP Writers’ Centre or find out more about the writer Katharine Susannah Prichard, you can check out the Centre’s website. You might even like to join me for my workshop titled Writing from the Margins on Sunday 28 February, the Literary Dinner on Tuesday 1 March or my visit to the Mundaring Library on Wednesday 2 March.