Easter for me is about family. Okay it's also about chocolate, but mainly it's about family and usually I wander north east to visit my sister and her family. They live in a small country town where the pace is relaxed. Slow. Easy.

There's not a lot to do. You can go for a walk (there are two directions- left or right), you can play Mario Kart on the Wii, you can play numerous games of UNO,....there's also much talking, laughter and catching up.

And I admit it, I listen, pay attention to small details...and take notes. Over the years this has resulted in various stories, poems and settings for both a children's novel and a YA novel. Their old dog Zorro, no longer with us, is a central character in my children's novel and the countryside, the landscape...and certain aspects of the town are an integral part of my YA novel.

I think it's because it is such a relaxed atmosphere that allows me to become attuned. When you are in your own home, with the constant distractions of work and housework and cooking and gardening and LIFE...you don't seem to have as much 'down time.' So when I have those few days over the Easter break, I unwind, relax and allow myself the luxury to simply listen.

To hear what the landscape is telling me,

And of course I listen to those around me. Over the years I have slept in a tent in the back yard, on the couch, on a small foam mattress in the lounge room, in the bottom bunk in the boys room (with nephew above) and in the 'purple palace'

This year I was in my nephew's room. The conversation went like this...
'Thanks for giving up your room for me.'
12 year old nephew's reply - 'Hmm, wasn't by choice.'

Naturally I noted it down. Along with comments such as
'I've run the bath, take off your clothes and hop in now.' - 'That's gross, take off my clothes!'

'You know you're a good aunty' 'Thanks, your mother pays me a lot for the job' 'No, seriously, you are pretty good.'

One short story I wrote after one Easter visit was published in a national magazine...

I liked the story for various reasons...it earned some nice money....was read by quite a few people...but more importantly it had a truth to the story. A truth that using voices and character traits and landscape that are real can give to a piece of work.

I don't know what part of my visit I'll use for my writing. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps a comment, or a character, or some emotional connection.

Which proves that it's good to sometimes get away, to relax, take it easy, spend time with family. And listen.


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