Tag Archives: Creative Writing

a writer’s day

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Life has become more highly ritualised now that production of my doctoral creative artefact – my permaculture travel memoir – has begun to ramp-up.

In the morning, it goes like this…

5am or 5:30am rise. Empty potty (it’s too far to walk outside to the composting loo during the night). Get dressed. Wash face. Boil kettle. Pick fresh sprigs of mint; dodge bees drinking from flowers; brew pot of mint tea. Simultaneously brew a fresh cafetiere of coffee… carry both into the writing studio, place them on the heat-proof ceramic tile on my desk. Back to the kitchen to fetch a mug.

How can I impress upon you the importance of choosing the right mug? Which one today? So much depends upon it – the success of the written word.

Shall I choose this one or that? The green, or the midnight blue Japanese mug… the mottled, sandy-coloured oldies that came with the house… or my favourite, the cream-coloured Korean mug with the picture of the purple and yellow plums on the side?

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Start work.

Three to four hours of generating ‘fresh’ words. I call this process ‘seeding’. It’s how I flesh out the narrative and get words down on paper.

Break. 

Usually about 1 hour, during which I undertake a combination of the following: wash dishes (whilst listening to Margaret Throsby’s midday interview); make bed; browse the garden; eat lunch; prepare the evening meal.

Afterwards I resume work for another 2-3 hours. Time to edit the ‘old’ work I produced last week during my ‘seeding’ sprees. I call this part ‘weeding’, though sometimes it’s more like turning over the compost, trying to make the various elements disperse and break down more evenly. Integrate. Obtain a fine tilth. A perfect growing medium.

The final hour is of gentler, less intensive work. Sometimes it’s note-taking from secondary texts I’m working with: travel memoirs; natural histories; permaculture handbooks; or ethnographies…  This is the most brain-dead part of the day, reserved for things like notetaking or backing-up. 

Eventually, it’s time to finish. How to break the intensity of the day? 

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I try to leave the studio neat and tidy for tomorrow. Coming into an orderly space helps. I neaten the piles of books, pages, pens, drafts and drafts of drafts. They’re piling up. Soon I’ll have to confront them and file them away. When the doctorate is over I’ll probably mulch the garden with the seeding pages. I’ll be eating my words!

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Filed under Doctoral Research, Food, Life Writing, Literature, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Writing

The birds

A Rufus fantail pip-pip-pips in the garden. I watch it skitter along the central rib of a palm frond, which in an act of biomimicry, is also fantail shaped. The bird doesn’t stay long in one place. It swoops between frond and treetrunk, pausing  to unfurl its flashy tail, dancing from side to side. The bird is as fleet of foot as it is of wing. Two bounces and he’s off, taking his provocative self-advertisement elsewhere.

I’ve seen the Lewin’s honeyeater already this morning. I assume it’s the same bird I saw yesterday but it might not be. There are loads of them about. The Lewin’s has a liking, I’ve noticed, for the creamy two-inch trumpet-shaped flowers hanging in clusters from the drooping green stems of the male papaya tree. The birds have a knack for reaching their beaks right up inside the flowers, probing for nectar. The plundered flowers fall to the ground where they lie concentrated in piles beneath the Lewin’s favourite perches. The pattern they make on the soil a reflection of the Lewin’s desire.

I watch out the window of my studio as another creamy trumpet flower floats to the ground. The soil it lands upon is dark, rich and wet. It’s not like Richie and I to leave soil exposed: big permaculture no-no! But it’s something we’re trialling. What we’re doing is waiting for the rows of miniature broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, kailarn and kale that we sewed directly late last month to get a wriggle on: once their heads are a few inches above the soil we’ll lay on thick mulch, tucking them in to enjoy a slow season of growth and productivity. We’d never try it in summer. Too hot.

Looking again at the soil I imagine it smells sweetly of hummus, microbes and mycelium.

Like Richie and the papaya tree, the soil isn’t native to this place. It’s a ring-in. It landed here on the end of mine and Richie’s spades, gathered in wheelbarrows from the mountain of shit towering in the back of the ute: rotted cow manure from a dairy ten clicks down the road. Good Obi Obi cow shit. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Food, Life Writing, Permaculture, Travel, Writing

Successful Confirmation

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45 days after giving my Confirmation Presentation

I can say with certainty that I am officially…

CONFIRMED!

I received the confirmation outcome advice from the Office of Research two days ago.

Here’s what the email said:


Dear Nina

I am pleased to advise that the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee has approved the faculty’s recommendation to approve your progression to confirmed candidature in the Doctor of Creative Arts program at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Your revised Research Plan has also been approved and your thesis title updated as indicated:

Seed: cultivating permaculture-travel memoir through applied permaculture design      


Attached to the email was a copy of the examiner’s report.  Continue reading

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Filed under Doctoral Research, Permaculture, Travel, Writing

Permaculture Traveller launched!

Dear friends,

Welcome back to typo traveller! After a twelve-month hiatus I’ve returned. Time to set in motion a new phase of life and along with it, a new phase in the life of this blog.

As you might already have noticed typo traveller has undergone a name-change. From here on in I’ll be conversing through the mouthpiece of Permaculture Traveller.

Why the name-change?

Because life changes. I’ve changed. You’ve changed. We all change. Same same but different.

In terms of the ‘old’ name…

I’m still ‘typing’ – typing harder than I’ve ever typed before.

I’m still prone to ‘typos’ (there’ll be ample evidence of this in this post, as well as future posts)

And (this part is a bit more of a stretch of the imagination)… I’m still travelling.

Okay. I’m not. But I am. Bear with me while I explain…

Typo Traveller was inaugurated as a travel blog. A blog to travel with. It accompanied me on an epic journey overland (no flying!) from England to Morocco, and from Morocco to Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia (…okay, I’m gloating…), Russian, Kazakhstan, China, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand (…still gloating…), Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and eventually ‘home’, to Australia.

Then… well, the buck stopped there.

For a time.

18 months later I am no longer travelling. I am the co-keeper and cultivator of a home and garden in the Obi Obi, Queensland, Australia.

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And, I’m a scholar!

Remember how I fled Australia for India in 2007 to avoid doing a PhD?

Well, you can only flee destiny for so long. In my case, six years.

After a prolonged period of waywardness I’ve re-joined the academy. I’m an unconfirmed Doctor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) candidate with the Faculty of Arts and Business and the Sustainability Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

So far I’ve completed one year out of a three-year full-time program of doctoral research.

The concept for my doctoral research is to write a permaculture-travel memoir about the flightless journey that my partner and I undertook in 2012-2013. The creative artefact will be called Seed: The Art and Mystery of Permatravel.

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Part of the joy of conducting the research is that it allows me to continue travelling. In my mind.

Every day, my imagination sallies forth from its situated, embodied habitus within my body (which I leave behind, for practical reasons, in my writing studio), and returns to the places that I visited over the course of my journey.

For me, writing the memoir is an opportunity to imaginatively re-inhabit the places I visited during that journey – and reconnect, (yes… still imaginatively), with the remarkable people whom I met – the many WWOOF, Couch Surfing, WorkX and AirBnB hosts – and the diverse landscapes I inhabited with them: fincas, farms, cottages, islands, mountains, gorges, cities…

I want to learn more about those people and places, supplementing my experiential knowledge with book learning on cultural history, natural history, political history, folk lore, environmental anthropology and ethnoecology.

The narrative I will be writing is not only about the art and mystery of permatravel, it is about how people meet their needs ‘for food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way’, and how gradually, over time, people integrate harmoniously with their landscape.

Here’s where permaculture comes in.

The definition of permaculture outlined by Bill Mollison (2012, pp. ix-x) in Permaculture: A Designers’ Handbook is as follows:


 

Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way…
                       The philosophy of permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.


The innovation of my research is that I’ll be applying permaculture design to the process of researching and writing a permaculture-travel memoir.

What I am attempting to do is develop a blueprint of an integrated permaculture-writing practice: to develop a form, and a process, that works with, and responds creatively to the twelve principles of permaculture design and which exemplifies the permaculture ethic: ‘earth care, people care, fair share’.

The twelve principles are:

Observe and Interact
Catch and Store Energy
Obtain a Yield
Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
Produce no Waste
Design from Pattern to Details
Integrate, Rather than Segregate
Use Small and Slow Solutions
Use and Value Diversity
Use Edges and Value the Marginal
Creatively Use and Respond to Change

You’ve heard of people ‘doing’ permaculture on landscapes? Well, I’m ‘doing’ permaculture on a creative arts product – a memoir.

How is it going to turn out?

I’ve no idea.

But if you’re keen to find out, come along with me for the ride. Deviations welcome. Road-blocks expected. Delays inevitable. Arrival… a far-off but enchanting possibility.

 

NOTE: If you’re working on a similar project, or if you’re somehow engaged in the practices of writing, permaculture or travel, leave a comment and let me know what you’re up to. This blog is all about observing and interacting with what’s going on around me, and learning (graciously) to ‘apply self-regulation and accept feedback’ (the 4th principle of permaculture design). See you on the road…

 

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Permaculture, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing