Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Treasures from the Sea

How God blessed me in 2009 - Part 2

When I opened my birthday card from John in May this year, I was delighted to receive the top request on my 'birthday wish list'. I had asked for 'time' and in my hand I held the promise of a week of uninterrupted writing at Mum and Dad's beach house, while John the Generous One offered to do the Mr Mom thing and keep the home fires burning.

My destination was Phillip Island,  just off the southern coast of mainland Australia, where my family has holidayed for more then 30 years, and the setting for my current writing project. Although my story takes place in the 1870s, there are still many places where 19th century island life  remains preserved for history buffs to explore and enjoy. Instead of writing, I found myself collecting information and talking to locals from the Historical Society about life during the early days of settlement on Phillip Island. I spent a day exploring the nearby Churchill Island with its original homestead built in the 1860s, and another day at Coal Creek Historical Village. My week of writing and researching flew by, but in that short time I discovered lots about my setting and the people who brought it to life in the first place.

Characters and plot began to take shape. Farm and village settings came alive in my mind as I stopped to talk to locals who were eager to share what they knew about their island. In the evenings, thanks to the absence of the internet, I read old newspapers and books detailing the daily life of the pioneers who braved the wind blasts of Westernport Bay, and made their homes on this remote volcanic outcrop. It was a birthday present unlike any other and I savored every moment, as my imagination played with the many elements of my developing story.

I had always wondered about the brave families who  turned an isolated island into a welcoming rural community. My first holiday experience at Philip Island was when I was 9 and my fascination with its history has only grown with the passing years. Now, after many months of research and writing,  I have an even deeper connection.

I came home from my retreat by the sea, with bucket loads of ideas and historical details. Some were destined to find their way into my wip. Others remain threads to be picked up at some stage for layering as my story develops.

Six months into my writing adventures, I was now armed with information and the emerging tale of two very different people, destined to meet and fall in love during this exciting time in Australia's history.

Thanks to my generous husband who pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, and 'run away' from home for a week, I was moving in the right direction. Like a diver returning from the deep, I surfaced with treasures and remnants from the past - the essentials of my story.
But how do you take all that information and imagination and turn it into a novel? This was no short story anymore. Thankfully, God had another classroom for me to join in the months to come!

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8