The last few days have been a bit on the smoky side around here. We’re spending the month at our house at Little Forest which is about 30k’s south of the Wandandian fires (for any interstate or overseas readers that’s about two and a half hours south of Sydney). Here’s the usual view from our veranda and the one I was greeted with when I woke up this morning:

20130103-152236.jpg              smoky view

Although the fires are still burning they don’t seem to be getting any closer to us but we’re keeping an eye on things just in case!

In other news I’ve been struggling a little with the January Writing Challenge, putting too much pressure on yself to come up with something new and wonderful. So today I decided to try something different. When we headed to the beach instead of taking a book I took a pen and a few index cards and sat and wrote down any observations that came to me. Here’s a sample of a few things I jotted down:

on the beach of my youth

I sit and watch

past, present and future

an ocean of blue light

the fearlessness of youth

and the arrogance

a father builds a castle with his son

as I once did with my daughter

who now lies

lithe and sun-browned beside me

in an almost there bikini

I once-upon-a-time would have worn

umbrellas lollipop the sand

a seagull motors along like a wind-up toy

cicadas beat out the rhythm of the day

I gaze at the rocks we once explored together

and walk there alone

a seaweed green crab

studies me with his poppy-seed eyes

sidles beneath a barnacled rock

a flesh pink starfish

clings to its tidal home

and there she is next to me

she clambers over rocks

and goes beyond the headland

out of sight

my heart still lurching

at her vanishing

smiling at her return.

beach with rocks

It’s rough and ready but might one day be moulded into something more substantial. The thing is that writing down those notes at the beach forced me to look closely, to sit and watch and listen. When I took myself for my jaunt around the rock pools I was in the same observant, patient frame of mind and managed to see those small details I otherwise would have missed …

A flesh pink starfish

A flesh pink starfish

Look closely, there's a crab in there!

Look closely, there’s a crab in there!

So today I learnt – or rather reminded myself of – something. What we write doesn’t always have to be great, it doesn’t always have to matter. What matters is the act of writing itself. It helps you to stop and watch and listen and appreciate the world around you just that little bit more. And that can’t be a bad thing!

Hope your writing is going well.

Would love to hear what you’re writing about and your thoughts on your process.