There is a half eaten frittata sitting on a ‘70’s era plate within twenty centimetres from me. Empty coffee cups also in a vintage style are strewn across the table. The salad plates have been cleared, as have the napkins, one of which I have been writing my notes on. I forgot paper. At a writing master class.
It’s called the “Gunnas Master Class” and it’s with Catherine Deveny who has just instructed us to write five minutes non-stop.
WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STOP.
In her introduction to the task she says, “write about anything, just don’t stop, if you can’t think of something – write that Catherine Deveny is fatter in real life than you thought.“
She actually lifted up her skirt to show us her strong legs from running eight – ten kilometres per day. They are strong. It reminded me of the time Mirka Mora lifted her dress over her head at the launch for a new French bubbles at Madam Brussels in Bourke St.
Mirka then lifted the bottle above her head and poured the fizz all over herself.
What joy and irreverence she and Catherine share.
So, back to the table.
There are 20 of us in this master class. Two Baptist ministers; a management consultant; a musician; a comedian; a lady with Multiple Sclerosis who spilt water from the stainless steel jug and declared “It’s the MS”; another woman has cancer and I am obsessed with her jumper. There’s writers of music, poetry, fiction and non. I’d never heard of flash fiction or dental drafts but am willing to give both a try, now.
We students are a rabble bunch.
I am one of two blondes. There is one male. He’s an older gentleman whose family gave him the class as a gift. We concur that was a lovely thing to do. He didn’t really seem to know why it was gifted to him. He works in finance by day.
At the beginning of the class, we each have to get to know the person next to us and introduce them. The usual type of thing you do in a training course.
This one is different.
Catherine uses each person’s story and ideas about what they think they would like to get out of the class as an impetus for all of us to learn. She’s sharp and hones in on each individual with remarkable ease.
I tell the class of strangers that I am scared. Catherine says that the thing I need out of this course is to be brave.
Now, with 30 seconds to go of the five minutes of non-stop writing, I’ve not come up for breath. Lunch must be beckoning most people, though I’m still not hungry.
Next task – to write for ten minutes – this time we are allowed to take our time, “stare into space if you like,” Catherine says.
I look back to the table again.
The rabble bunch has their eyes down, writing.
I don’t want to be a voyeur but I’m interested to look around and just watch everyone scribbling away in note pads and tapping on laptops.
There are four of us on laptops. “Don’t go on the internet” Catherine says.
I haven’t got the Wi-Fi password but wouldn’t go on the Internet right now anyway. I am honestly inspired by this process this far.
I’ve learned so much. Or actually so much of what I have known to be true has been reinforced, solidified to truth.
In the introductions, my introducer, Cindy, a remarkably strong and spiritual woman with gorgeously grey hair in a high bun says that I am “a woman who has achieved so much in her career.”
Cindy says that I am in a transition phase, and she’s right.
The transition is to be truly brave and honest, by doing what is best for me.
My creativity has manifested itself in beautiful things, but not for me, for others.
The creative process drives me ‘til my brain, body and soul cannot take it anymore.
The beautiful things have been counter-balanced by ugliness. Self-inflicted pain. Loss. Devastation.
And so, back to the table.
With two minutes to go everyone is again writing with gusto. Not many are looking up and around like me. The lady with MS lets out a big breath, her lips vibrating like a baby finding its lips.
Today, many of us are further on our way to finding our feet as writers.