Who knew

I didn’t set out to be a writer. It found me.

I became a writer. And when my very first book was published, I became an author.
Sounds easy.

Looking back, writing my first story was the easy part. It didn’t compare to what was yet to come. A lot has happened since then.

Everything has a beginning. This is mine.
*

After living in Canberra for almost twenty years, we finally made the decision. We sold our house and everything in it (well, almost everything, we did keep the mattresses and our boisterous beagle), let the removalists load the rest onto a truck and set out on a 2,600 km drive up north.

Cairns, here I come!

Weeks later, I was still unpacking.

Outside, in the patch of rainforest just behind the back fence, birds chirped happily, disturbed only by the occasional loud chatter of colourful lorikeets. Sun shone in through the open glass windows, warming the tiled floor underneath. I was in shorts and a t-shirt.

It was the middle of winter. I wanted to stretch in the weathered lounge chair beside the pool and offer my pale face to the sun’s rays. Instead, I was stashed inside our new house, surrounded by beige cubes and rectangles of various sizes, fingers sticky from the packing tape, the floor a mess of discarded labels and wrapping material.
Nearly there.

I cringed every time I opened yet another box. Towels. Kitchen utensils (ah, here’s the bloody lemon rind peeler!). Laundry things. More towels. Travel bags. And I thought we had packed lightly. Hm? A chainsaw? How did he manage to sneak that in?

When I peeled back the flaps of a rather heavy box, my face lit up. Here were my books, those I had read already but couldn’t part with, and those that patiently waited for me to have my way with them.

I dragged the box into the spare bedroom, heaving. The sweet scent of the fresh varnish of my brand new bookcase filled my nostrils. My eyes skipped along the gleaming wooden shelves, stopping abruptly on the pile of boxes stacked up neatly against the wall. Oh dear, I should have bought the larger case!

One by one, books filled the empty shelves. As much as I wanted to have a rendezvous with every one of them, to explore their covers, to inhale their aroma, to flip through the pages reading a paragraph or two, I had to be practical about it. There was a life beyond the door of the spare bedroom, a family to be looked after and fed. So, out of the box and onto the bookshelf. One, two, three… eighty-seven…
Then it landed in my hands.

Dog eared, faded and smelling of stale dust, I recognised it straight away. A skinny school exercise book with a simple title on it. Old, plain, but worth more than any book I ever owned.

I sat on the floor, leaned against the wall and opened it. All the other books around me disappeared.

As I read, the bunnies pounced out of the yellowing pages, full of action and adventure.
I was in awe of the ten-year old mind, which conjured the stories, and the hand, which drew the images on the paper, in crude pencil.

My mind. My hand. A long, long time ago.

I gently closed the book and nestled it amongst the others on the bookshelf.

That night, an idea was born, translucent and thin as a whiff of vapour at first, but as days passed it solidified, gained shape and colour. And I knew.

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