It was an odd thing to do but I was getting desperate. Within minutes I’d be on Melbourne radio by telephone link-up and talking about a novella of mine published last year, but I was already into the writing of the next novella. I made a coffee, hoping this would break my concentration, but it didn’t have the desired effect. I quickly fed the chooks, but still my brain was filled with the work-in-development. As the interview crept closer, the only idea I had was to just return to my writing room and hope my head would clear.
But my head didn’t clear; all I could think about was the new story, the one that’s still in the process of being born. On air would I mix up my titles and characters and plots and themes and end up sounding like a fool?
As a last resort, I stood up, walked to the other side of the room, and breathed in slowly, deeply, breathed out.
There’s a chair on that side of the room. It’s a simple 1930s piece which I bought just after I moved in – my house is old so it seemed only right that I have some old furniture. I’m not into antiques per se; I don’t like gloss and shine and perfection. If I find a piece that’s been discounted due to an obvious flaw, I’m more interested. This particular chair was so unloved that the shop kept it outside under a lean-to. No one wanted it. Except me.
I sat down and – oh my – what on earth was happening?
I like writing, I like working hard, so when I’m in my writing room I’m always at my desk, not in the old chair in the corner, which really just exists these days for decoration and atmosphere. But while I sat and waited for the interviewer to ring, I saw a completely different view of the room. From this angle, the room appeared larger, taller; it even smelt different. For a minute, two minutes, three minutes, I just sat quietly in the old unloved chair and felt altered. It felt as if I’d stepped outside myself, the way some people describe an out-of-body experience at the time of near-death. Of course, I wasn’t dying. I was just being differently.
After three minutes, the phone began ringing.
I stood up and calmly answered the call.
(First published in Panorama, The Canberra Times, 25 May 2013.)