I’m on the downhill week of my stay at Varuna and I’ll be sad to leave this enchanted place.
I’ve been hard at work on my novel. Last week, I met with Carol Major, one of the consultants here, who gave me some wise and valuable suggestions for my novel. I’ve taken on board at least ninety per cent of what she said, and made the changes. I knew most of the flaws already, but I didn’t know how to fix them—she helped me see what I had to do.
I feel as if the novel is much better for the changes, more cohesive and more focused. In previous drafts, the scenes were more like a meandering path that somehow led the reader to the end. There were a few scenic routes, and a couple of tracks that weren’t terribly well-marked. A few dead ends, too. While the scenic pathway is nice, some of my routes existed only for the scenery and didn’t contribute to the story. They had to go. As Carol said, ‘Save them for your next book …’
In between writing, I pulled my camera out and took more photos of Varuna, this time of inside the house. I changed the images into black and white because coming here does feel like stepping back in time. The house is unchanged from when the Dark’s lived here—except for a few modern conveniences, like central heating, a front-loading washing machine, and a dishwasher.
Staying here has been like stepping back to another era in other ways, too. Back to a time when days were quieter, when life was slower, when houses had big gardens. It’s been a wonderful couple of weeks free of commitments, free of worries, and free of anything other than writing my novel …
Next week, it’s back to Perth and back to reality, but at least I’ll get to meet this little bundle who has joined our family since I’ve been away …
The photos are great Louise, reminds me of when I was there. And I’m glad you feel as if your novel is better as a result of your stay there. Enjoy the last couple of days!
Thanks, Natasha. I think, I hope, I MUST believe that the novel is stronger … By the way, when were you here?
Dear Louise, thank you so much for your terrific missives from Varuna the Writers House. And of course your photographs have been terrific, my personal favourite being the taps! Love the light and reflection, and the echoes of another era. I can’t help but feel that you sound a little melancholic in this your last post from Vauna. It can an arduous, grueling process putting one’s manuscript through the mill yet again which not even a beautiful environ can dissipate. Hang in there Louise…and Carol is a gem.
The taps are my favourite, too. I took a photo of the old pedestal basin—but it didn’t work out very well. I must re-take, as you’d love that, too, I suspect.
I have found this draft arduous and gruelling, but I’m not complaining. I just want it to be the best it can be …
Thanks for your comments and encouragement. By the way, do you know Carol?
You go away and they get a dog? They must have missed you Louise! Liesel is adorable. The black and white photos are beautiful. How exciting to be progressing in the process of completing your novel. I’m looking forward to its completion as I’m sure you are.
We got Liesel to replace the eldest child who moved to Melbourne. I had to talk my husband into it (and promise him that I’m not going to replace each of our children as they leave!). As luck would have it, she was ready to be picked up when I was booked to be at Varuna. Just one of those things …
I had a good writing day yesterday. Today’s looks trickier as I’m up to a section that requires a lot of work …
Your work ethic is inspiring, Louise. Truly inspiring! Sounds like Varuna has been the perfect place to get stuck into this phase of the writing, with some great mentoring. And puppy looks cute. Another walking companion?
Yes, another walking companion when she’s old enough! And a companion in general for Gretel while I work.
Varuna is perfect for writers. It’s a true retreat, set up to minimise distraction. The garden is lovely for inspiration and a stroll, and the national park is five minutes’ away and it is spectacular. (Kate and William are there today, apparently!)
All-in-all it’s been well worth coming. I couldn’t recommend it more!
Loved your photos, especially the ones in black and white. They remind me of the house I grew up in – about the same vintage, I imagine. And your new puppy looks adorable. Happy homecoming.
Thanks, Maureen. Yes, Varuna has many features that harken back to previous eras. And I’m glad you liked the look of Liesel—I can’t wait to meet her!
The black and white photos were lovely to see. I’d love to see Varuna for myself one day. Glad your stay has been enlightening!
Varuna, in my very humble opinion, is the perfect place for a writers’ retreat. I do hope you get the opportunity to visit one day!
I feel your sadness as your time at Varuna comes to an end. Through your photos and words, I’ve come to believe it’s a magical place. How wonderful that you could spend two weeks there. I hope you can go back– next time as a published writer.
Safe journey home. Puppy breaths await you.
Thanks, Penny. When I wrote this post, I did feel sad about leaving, but yesterday I really missed my family. The two weeks here have been invaluable—I could never have managed to write at home as I’ve been able to here. But two weeks away is long enough—I’m looking forward to home. And our new pup!
Thanks so much, Louise, for sharing your Varuna experience and all the wonderful photos. I’m so pleased that it gave you what you needed, although maybe not always what you wanted…
I’m sure you’re more than ready to see your lovely husband and children again.
On the puppy front, she looks gorgeous. I can’t remember how many von Trapp children there were, but I vote you keep getting puppies until you’ve used all the names. Going now…
He he, Tricia! I like the way your mind works …
Lovely, the pictures, your journey, your writing … enjoy and hope to see you soon.
Thanks, Rashida. We must catch up soon—I really want to hear about India!
I agree with all of the previous comments, a PUPPY, you are going to have so much fun, I’m envious xxxx
Pup is gorgeous! I’m sure she will feature in a blog post or two …