Secrets within

I walked into the kitchen at eight o’clock tonight and retrieved a half-full bottle of wine from the fridge. I poured a glass and ripped the plastic wrap from a magazine that arrived in today’s mail, the Queensland Writers Centre quarterly.

I leaned against the kitchen bench and made space amongst the bread crumbs and tea towels, earrings and hair bands and scraps of homework, and sipped wine while reading about writing.

Earlier that evening the Ballerina and I had gone out for dinner. I hadn’t felt like cooking. The fridge offered slim pickings – brown pineapple and limp carrots. Old eggs. So instead we’d eaten chicken karaage and tempura vegetables at the local Japanese restaurant.

My mum would never have done that.  On a rainy Tuesday night she would have had a lamb casserole bubbling on the stove top with fluffy white rice ready to partner.

And all of these facts, the limp carrots, the mid-week wine, the dirty bench and karaage, coalesced in my mind’s eye as I read an article about mother writing.

Author Andie Fox says we need more stories about marginalised women, women with secrets they can’t risk sharing.

Women who are not overcoming heroically, but who are failing or zigzagging or scraping by.

After reading this I wanted to write, to confess. But unlike the women explored in Fox’s piece, there’s no risk in me sharing my trivial transgressions. I doubt social services would object to midweek Japanese.

Still, her musings on writing and secret-keeping struck a chord. Fox sees it as a problem particularly for women.

…the clash of roles for women writers between being secret-keepers as mothers, and secret-tellers as writers

But isn’t the battle one faced by every writer, to draw upon their lived experience without exposing the people they live with?

Ponderings aside, before tackling my confession I had a job to do. There’s always a job. And I don’t mean the dishes. No, I had to write another damned biography. My nemesis. Kryptonite to my self esteem.

Gritting my teeth again I stretched and squeezed the facts of my life around a standardised template for general consumption, producing another thin and patchy essay with a joke at the end for distraction. The Husband arrived home midway through my toiling and suffered my sullenness for his bad timing. He slunk away to bed before I’d finished.

There’s not enough wine in Germany to float me out of the self-description blues.

But finally, in the wee hours of the next day, I have actually written something purely creative with no purpose other than to express myself.

And the dishes remain undone.

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Angela Bensted is Brisbane-based freelance writer who likes to listen first and struggle with syntax later. She pitches stories to magazines, sometimes successfully, and helps businesses produce compelling copy for print and online.

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