Our tiny town is about to publish a book about local artists and artisans and other crafty or musical folk who live here. I was asked to write a short piece about the history of the area, and to answer some questions about being a writer.
When did you come to writing?
I grew up in Pakistan and went to a small international primary school. When I was eight I won a whole school story writing competition. I will never forget the out-of-body wonder I felt as I heard my name called out ahead of much of older children. As I walked up to accept my trophy I could hardly feel my own legs. A few months later, back in Australia, I saw a bookshop window filled with displays of the latest bestsellers. “I’m going to have a book in that window when I grow up,” I said to myself, and the desire to write has never left.
Why are you living in this town?
The short answer is simply that I followed my husband here for his work. The more complicated answer is that I believe that we were led here by God. A series of very intricate and interesting coincidences led to my husband being offered his job, and the village lifestyle, slower pace and calming surroundings have helped us to blossom as a family, especially as we live with a child with special needs.
Who are your influences?
I like writers who tell a simple but nuanced, pared back story about real people. To Kill a Mockingbird is possibly my favourite book in the whole world, but I am a Jane Austen tragic. When I was fourteen and had read all the Austen I could find in the library, I asked for more and was told that was all there were. How I wish she had lived twice as long.
How do you approach your writing?
So far I’ve been lucky – I haven’t had any long periods of writer’s block. I do a little bit every day. And I’m pragmatic. If I’ve written something today and it is bad, I don’t get worried. I can always rewrite it tomorrow or bin it if it is completely irredeemable. I break a big project down into little steps and do a bit at a time. There’s no way I can work in large blocks of time with four children to feed and a large house to clean, so I find that I use vacuuming or washing time to run things over in my head.
What about living here has been helpful to your writing?
The view. Do I really need to spell it out? When I look at the mountain I breathe more deeply and think more clearly. My favourite colour is green and I see it everywhere I look. It’s a pleasure to live here and a privilege to write here.