Day one of my writing retreat in Bali. I’m so tired, absolutely rat-brained, but I am determined to reflect on the experience of the day. It’s been big.

Mind you the only reason I’m tired is because I was on the midnight special flying into Denpassar last night, actually early this morning, arriving at my hotel very late, actually very early this morning. My head hit the pillow of my old-school style Bali homestay at 3am, Aussie time. I slept not fabulously and so the general knock on effect is a dismal one of constantly trying to sneak in some cheeky daytime shut eye, but never quite achieving this. Even the 2 hour taxi ride from Sanur to Ubud, even when the very helpful driver put on some tranquil New Age music complete with babbling brook sound effects so us weary travellers could fall asleep, there was no shut eye to be found.

Ubud is a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve been here before a few times, but never long enough to take a good look at it. It has a reputation. Artists. Bohemians. New Age. Yoga and sound baths and tempeh salads. This is true. I see a rosy-cheeked gaggle of old hippies wandering Indian file along the main drag with yoga mats tucked under their arms, obvious to the screaming melee of trucks and motorbikes greasing past their flexible hips, no doubt looking forward to their upcoming downward dog, dressed in pious fishermen’s pants. I see that Ubud is a clamorous village, rambling, roiling and bursting at its seams. Our digs are just out of town, at Penestenan, in a villa amid a whole suburb (it would seem) of villas cobbled in amongst thin winding streets and a constant confluence of pedestrians and motorbikes sluicing through it. Upon check in at the main office, we were delivered through crazy main road traffic on the back of a golf buggy, holding for dear life as we swerved through the streets.

The first of our writer sessions were held at 4pm. I was only barely hanging on, sleep wise. A group of ten most excellent women. The first exercise, a beauty. We were set to work writing ten minutes in stream of consciousness by using the opening phrase “The only sound I heard….” The rules are you must write for ten minutes, you must not re-read what you have written, you must not change or edit anything.

I never seem to have any bother with writing stream of consciousness. Others find it terrifying. But is very effective. It is daunting but not half as daunting as a blank page or blinking cursor. It does away with the blank page perfectly. And afterwards we had to read it back to ourselves and circle unexpected ideas/sentences/phrases that could be used later. I had a few uncommon gems.

Right— tomorrow morning we all must write 2000 words and have to sent to Jane, our facilitator, by midday. Good lord. Playwrights, unlike novelists, do not talk about word counts. We write so differently and with such a different set of metrics. When a playwright says ‘I wrote a scene’, you know they’ve had a good day. If you asked a playwright “how many words did you get done today?’ they might just look at you like you were mad. Words? The volume of words does not matter fig to a playwright, it is the right words we are needing. So lesson number one. Write volume. Just write.

Sleep is the thing. Sleep.

This project was made possible by the Australian Governments Regional Arts Fund, provided through Regional Arts Australia, administered in Queensland by Flying Arts Alliance.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.