|Fiona at Avid Reader|
Lucky? Deserving? Humbled! Hopeful!
I'm sitting in a small storeroom upstairs at the Avid Reader bookshop in inner city Brisbane. I'm feeling a little like a fraud but at the same time I can hardly believe my good fortune. A few weeks ago I summoned up the courage to offer the early chapters of my "Lorenzo" manuscript to Krissy Kneen for her comments. Krissy works at Avid and has been closely involved with the Qld Literary Awards.
I was considering quitting my long time job and I knew I had to make some plans to ensure my sanity over the next phase of my life. I was looking for a shared working space - a 'co-working' space, as they are known, in which to write. There are a few around Brisbane. Places where one rents a desk at a daily or weekly rate and shares an open plan space and a kitchen with kindred spirits. My nephew runs one in Sydney called "Home Work" - neat name.
I could write at home but my experience has been that I am way too ill-disciplined and succumb to every distraction available. Emails, the garden, checking the letter box, coffee, tea, another snack, a bit of googling, maybe a swim and before I know it it's three pm and I go into a panic and write furiously (and guiltily) for a couple of hours. I knew if I was paying for a space I would feel obliged to use it.
Anyway Krissy and I had a coffee. I was pretty apprehensive. What I feared was one of those awkward situations where Krissy would be really polite, trying to avoid telling me my writing was fine for family but shite as a publishable manuscript. The other element to this is that I am 20 years older than Krissy and once lectured at the institution where she was an undergraduate. A few years later I chaired her great little youth arts organisation, the beautifully named "S'not Arts." It was a role reversal.
We ordered a coffee, engaged in a bit of avoidance chit-chat and then went for the jugular. 'Sooooooo, what do you reckon Krissy? ' says I, quickly jumping in to add 'You can be honest. I'm ready.'
'You write like you've been writing for a while. It's good. I was pleasantly surprised.' says she. I felt like I was at school getting a report from the teacher. I tried to act relaxed but even though I was excited by her response I was fumbling for words. Was the conversation as awkward as it felt?
'Just finish the bloody thing!'
I shared with her my quest for a work space and asked her advice and ..... well here I am in the Avid Attic. Owner, Fiona Stager, took Krissy's word that I was on the path to become a real writer and has offered this space for the next few months to get my shite together. What was, last week, a storage room is now a writing room full of me and Avid stuff which I have reorganised into the corners and towards the ceiling. It has a window, power, a door and a key. There's a coffee shop downstairs which serves food where I buy lunch in lieu of rent.and it's in walking distance of my home. When I need some research material I can be home and back in ten minutes - though I have already discovered the dangers of doing this - a cup of tea, a quick look at my emails, check the letter box (read mail). Still I am on my way.