hasten slowly

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When I was in grade 3, I was the winner of the 25 m backstroke competition after which I was invited to join the school swimming squad. Together with my false identification as a member of the rowing talent squad when I was 16, an appointment as my college table tennis team captain (due to the fact that my family owned table tennis bats) and participation in one cyclocross race – swimming squad training is pretty much the entire basis of my sporting knowledge. Most of the other anecdotes and analogies I use that are sporting related, have been incorporated into my vocabulary without ever really having seen said sporting events.

So consider this analogy is flimsy as it gets.

But whatever.

When we were training at swimming squad, the coach would often make us pretend that a shark was chasing us, so that we would swim as fast as we could. Bear in mind that we were between the ages of six and ten and conceptually sharks were a petrifying experience. Effectively what ensued after the call “A shark is chasing you!” was 25 m of the most extraordinary splashing, panic, squealing and spluttering on the part of a whole bunch of primary school aged children.  No one swam faster.

Then the coach would explain that the best way to escape from a shark was, in fact, not to swim in a greater frenzy, but as calmly as you possibly could – focusing on your style and breathing, trying to maximise the efficiency of your stroke and to save all of the energy.

Lately I feel as if they have been swimming away from a shark with my arms flailing – ridiculous and inefficient. Nothing seems to be getting done faster.

Some of this is related to having RSI, which must surely be evidence of an interventionist God. Because I’ve just about lost my mind not being able to write. It may seem implausible but I would happily spend an entire business day writing, then return home eat some food and continue writing for several more hours.  Previously, I would not think anything terribly much of writing for anywhere up to 10 hours on a business day and then several hours on weekend.

This is clearly not possible any more. I don’t quite know what to do with myself. Adjusting the concept of both what is possible and what is desirable in terms of writing has been very challenging.

If I felt able to write normally, I would have loved very much to share with you some of the processes and preparations for the various things that are happening in in writing sense. To name a few:

  • The Launch of the Reader in Residence Program – this Thursday 4 July – given the head space and time I would have liked to talk more about this program but I think I’ll just have to encourage you, tomorrow. Here are the details – Stress of Leisure, David Stavanger and me and building full of books – prepare thine self.
  •  Brisbane Emerging Arts Festival – Simon Kindt, Tony Mutton, Liz Bennett, Angela Willock, Betsy Turcot and Scott Sneddon will all be taking part in this incredible showcase of local Brisbane artistic talent at the Judith Wright Centre on 27 July, come visit on Facebook and IRL.
  •  Brisbane Fringe Festival has just started opening its “call for proposals”. For those of you who don’t know where art comes from, Basically two or more people get together in a room and there is so much love it makes a whole other art form. I’d like to encourage you to be a part of it. We are even going to be featuring some information about the call for proposals on this week’s At the Local on 4zzz. Please do join us between 1-2pm on 102.1fm.
  • The Southbank Tour de France Party is on again this Sunday night at Archive Beer Boutique, truly one of the hottest cycling tickets in town and in support of a fabulous organisation, Conductive Education Queensland!
  •  Equally if you are feeling yellow, then please check our Peril Magazine, soon we will not only be looking a lot prettier but also smarter as we launch a new series of poetry and writing from Asian Australian writers on the theme of terra, land, place – mapping the magic so that you might be able to consider just where this Asia Australia place is at.
  • Finally, looming on the so very far away horizon is the Queensland Poetry Festival, which it goes without saying holds a particularly special place in my literary heart. I want to tell you all about it.

While all of these things feel very exciting, I also have a slight sense of literary shark. I may need to swim just a little more calmly so that we all arrive in one piece.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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