1. My project is to write about the process of telling a story — writing about writing. And here, the task of writing about my project (i.e. writing about writing about writing) is something I’m still grappling with. I am trying to reflect upon myself, whilst being still myself. I’m trying to reflect on the narrator of what I have written rather than myself as the writer of a memoir, but sometimes I worry that the two are interchangeable. How can I reflect on the persona I embodied moments ago? This is a memoir in itself.
2. It is raining.
3. I’m feeling rather stressed at the moment. Stressed that my first marked assignments are due in two weeks. Stressed that I have more washing to do than there is space on our washing line. Stressed that I can’t retain any more information about nonfiction writing in my head right now. Stressed that I’m not getting enough sleep to not crash before the end of semester. Stressed that I don’t really understand what I’m looking for in my research. I’ll highlight and asterisk and take page after page of notes but upon reflection I’m not sure what it really is that I’m trying to find. What is it that I’m trying to learn? Why I can’t I learn everything?
4. There’s a town out west by about three hours, where the cafes shut at lunchtime and the houses sprawl across the grass, exhausted from looking out to sea. At the table a brother eats leftover lasagne while a sister reads a novel about the Middle East. Timidly, she asks another sister what it means to be ‘devout’. A mother is out buying a new tyre and a father tries to wash the bedclothes. The table was once covered in a red tablecloth from a souvenir shop in Europe, and before that a factory in China. The tag with this information was left in an airplane over the ocean somewhere, and now dust in a tip beyond the fringes of Abu Dhabi. The mother cooed and spread the cloth wide to cover the marks in the wood, white where her own mother had once spilled vinegar. The tablecloth was given to the Salvos months ago, years ago maybe. The sister who is reading remembers it from when she was small. When they had dinners with the father’s friends, the tablecloth would be washed and hung with weights to hold it down at both ends. She would play with the fibres, warping the patterns and making holes in the weave, absent from the adults’ conversations. Maybe that’s why it’s gone now. Maybe the mother found the holes. The other sister who knows what ‘devout’ means remembers the time at their table when a Japanese visitor shook a jar of Parmesan cheese without screwing the lid tight. The smell returned at every dinner until she moved away. The brother remembers the animals woven in lines. Yellow elephants and grey giraffes — he often wonders if the weaver had been a beginner, or if they’d been colourblind, or if they’d just felt like imagining that day.
I will write daily. I will write daily. I will write daily.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction, ed. Lee Gutkind
Creative Nonfiction, Issue 47, Winter 2013. (I know, not really a book.)
You: An Anthology of Essays Devoted to the Second Person, ed. Kim Dana Kupperman
Her Father’s Daughter, Alice Pung
Timepieces, Drusilla Modjeska
Understanding the Essay, eds. Patricia Foster and Jeff Porter
How the Water Feels to the Fishes, Dave Eggers
Blurring the Boundaries: Explorations to the Fringes of Nonfiction, ed. BJ Hollars
‘Of Miracles, Nested Dolls and the Unlimited: The Physics of Dimensionality in Three Works of Literary Nonfiction’, Kim Dana Kupperman
‘The Art of the Personal Essay’, Sheila Bender
‘On the Nature and Form of the Essay’, Gyorgy Lukacs
‘The Essay as Form’, T.W. Adorno
‘”The reservoir”: towards a poetic model of research in design’, Terence Rosenberg
‘The Problem of Where to Start: A Foundation Question for Creative Writing Higher Degree Candidates and Supervisors’, Donna Lee Brien
‘A Small Boy: Don’t be scared to be scared’, Kevin Brophy
‘Of Borders, Infidels and the Ethic of Love’, Kim Dana Kupperman