Discover more from Meg’s Musings
on at-home retreating, oversharing, finding play
Thank you for your patience waiting for this, which if you’re like me, you’re thinking, wait, what? Didn’t I get her newsletters the other day? Well, it turns out it was about a month ago (one month and four days to be exact). Time flies and all that.
Last newsletter, I was heading into an at-home self-led writing retreat to get a tonne of writing done. In reality, I was plagued by migraines, and assuming that this was my brain in protest at the job at hand, I shook my fist at the sky. Six days in, I realised I’d missed my blood pressure meds, creating an uptick in migraines. Welcome to complex health.
Today, I’ve just come out of at-home writing retreat, led by the gentle Sarah Sentilles in one of her Word Caves. Last time I did a Word Cave, it was deep lockdown in Melbourne and I’d just done a presentation to an eating disorders parent body that saw me crying for the four days. This time, I was excited. I precooked dal and soup and warned the fam that I was unavailable.
T-minus 2, sore throat.
T-minus 1, cough.
Day 1, dusting off rona testing kits to make sure it’s in date. It’s neg, I roll with it.
Day 3, test again, still neg.
End of Day 4, [don’t insert boring medical details about sputum and a pelvic floor after carrying three babies].
The women in the cave watched me cough until I looked like a sunburnt potato, but I got work done. I played. We communed, meditated. We got vulnerable. We challenged what we did. Sarah held us all in the beautiful sacred way she does best.
I went into the cave with an intention to nail the kid in my story’s voice. I wrote on the first morning:
…my words feel clunky as I make my way in. The sun soaks my face, reminds me I am warm, I exist, I belong. I write because it’s my discovering, untangling. Let the words flow, flood, fling, flourish. Flourish in the darkest places. Despite. Despite grief, pain, anguish, brokenness. I am finding a way, Lizzie is finding a way, Sarah is finding a way, even Ann finds her way, despite.
Today, as we closed out (and I serendipitously finished my current notebook), I wrote:
Now, the after, the softer, the reminder to play, be silly, listen to language, characters, air, wind and earth. What does water say? What does earth say? How does it feel under my hands, feet, skin? What to strip naked and roll in it all and let the story slip over me until we are so intimate we are one and we are talking, breathing all the tongues of the people whose stories are waiting to awaken and unfold and my fingers will breathe the words from you all to you all, I am merely the conduit of the story that can only be told by you, not me.
These last four days have reminded me to look toward play as I blow this manuscript up and see how it wants to be.
I parsed Geraldine Brooks’ novel Horse and have gone a step further (a step too far, some may say) and created a spreadsheet to chart it next to mine as I move through this next draft. Extremely satisfying. Are you a spreadsheeter?
I’ve been unsubscribing. My inbox was giving me anxiety, so I spent a day (or more) bringing it down from a number with four digits to one with two, and unsubscribed to all the things I don’t need (looking at you, consumer world).
I love Austin Kleon’s newsletter and his approach to notebooking. I weighed my notebook at the start and the end. It only put on 7 grams. I expected more. But it’s 1.5 cm fatter with post it notes, loads of thoughts and ideas. A part of me always worries I’ll lose track of what’s in there but I’m too lazy to index them. Instead, I’ll slide it onto the shelf with the other ones. Do you journal? How do you organise your journals?
My Bella is aging quickly. It’s hard to watch/look away.
Spring’s here and my orchids are blooming and I may become a crazy happy orchid lady.
Thanks for the aphid on roses tips, Justine & Kate. I am (slowly) winning. There’s new growth and I dream of squishing aphids.
I organised a ‘big’ family gathering for my side of the family in a convent in St Arnaud. It was fun and funny and I’ll do it again. I love gathering people and seeing how it lands. People did the things they do best: cooking, making games, noticing, walking, talking, playing. Chef’s kiss.
The happy lily is the most dramatic of all house plants, amiright?
I still have one spot that is not filled on my Retreat with Me 26-29 October. It’s in a place called Musk (near Daylesford) and will be restorative for you if you need time for your writing. I will feed you and help you form new writer connections and gain clarity on your writing goals. There will also walks, wine and talks. Find out more
I’ve recently read and loved:
A few (or more) things that have caught my attention
Somebody Somewhere is classified as Comedy Drama, but it is so much more beautiful than that. If there was such a thing, I’d classify it as Raw Heartfelt. It’s that sweet spot between sad/happy. I laughed and cried.
I’m lending my support to the Yes23 campaign. I’ve donated so they can educate people so they don’t vote no because they didn’t understand. If you don’t know, do your research rather than voting no.
A podcast for those with busy brains, Nothing Much Happens, in which nothing much happens. It’s short stories to help you go to sleep.
Newsletters I’m loving right now
Highbrow, Lowbrow, Mediumbrow by Katherine Collette. I’ve recommended it before, but it never fails to delight. The latest is on small disappointments.
Suburban Dreaming by Lucinda Bain always has great notes on reading, writing, landscape, mothering and craft. This week we bonded over a funny knitting reel on Instagram. If I meet her IRL, we will laugh and talk.
Arnie. Yep, the original Arnold Schwarzenegger. My hubby put me onto his Pump Club newsletters and yes, there’s a lot of ‘pump’ chat and a lot of motivational stuff, but when my manuscript didn’t make the cut of the Publishable shortlist (see how I snuck that in where I though you might not see it) my hubby said, what would Arnie say. And that helped. Keep going. Super motivational, quick reads.
Tracy Crisp always makes me laugh with her great dry wit on Insta and in her newsletters. Check out her latest Naive Psychologist letter #39
I have always yearned for a more simple life (in 2010, I made our family go on a year long camping trip). Jodi Wilson articulates simplicity well in PS: More than an afterthought. I loved ordinary observations this week.
Rick Morton’s Nervous Laughter newsletters are a constant source of joy.
Recent lovely comments from people who upgraded to paid:
I LOVE your musings Meg xxx Keep kicking goals my friend :)
Happy to support a writer as I know how hard it can be to cobble together freelance work and make something of it all! And since starting to read your Substack, I've enjoyed what you have to say. Keep going!
Thank you so much for supporting my little neck of the Substack woods. If you think someone else might like to read my musings, please share it with them.
Til next time