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Published January 3rd 2016
Armed with my morning coffee and trusty tablet, I was deep in open reflection pondering about why people write for WeekendNotes. Looking across the table I saw eyebrows raised, a quizzical look and was promptly told "give it to me, I'll write the answer for you".
It was 2014 when we were at this same coffee shop and he blurted out loud "I am going to be a professional photographist and I am going to start writing for WeekendNotes". I am not sure whether I gave him the "yes dear" face or the "huh" face, but the passion in his voice and energy in his body meant it was largely irrelevant unbeknownst to me I was to become a WeekendNotes partner.
So I joined the conversation and asked what it means. "We get to see things, eat things, find things, buy things and then I just write up a quick story, someone reads it and then we get paid. I just need to build up a library of stories first, and then I will be off and running in a big way". For some reason, and perhaps it was the magazine I was reading, my mind quickly locked in to cruise ships, eating various delicacies, watching great movies and then finding the shopping malls at the various islands we stopped at, so I was a "yes".
It is now almost two years, and what a time it has been. By my quick estimates, I have been walked 500 miles, and then 500 more, and followed some imaginary line for what seemed like an eternity just to prove a point that it rains in some parts of the state but not other parts. I have walked in 5 states in Australia, and across the Kokoda Track. My walking boots now have a hole in them from having walked so far. Meanwhile the permanent aroma left on some of my clothes meant no alternative but to ditch them.
I have climbed more hills than I knew ever existed, pretended to be a mountain goat, carried more flies on my back than camels do, and if I dare see another one of those "follow the fence" Heysen Trail signs I am likely to scream. And who would have guessed that there are that many markets in Adelaide. Big, small, toys, crafts, art, fish, books, car parts, sunrise, moonlight, twilight, daylight, beachfront, riverfront, seaside, city, laneways they all exist, and they are all many miles long once you walk down every aisle looking for that exclusive.
In addition I have cycled and cycled and cycled, in many cases to places where bicycles are not meant to go. I have been up hills, down hills, and had my fair share of the bike going one way and the body going the other. I have followed the Mawson Trail from end to end, and the Kidman Trail, and the Lavender Trail, and any other trail that this professional photographist could find. Beautiful Valleys, Hidden Valleys, Sleepy Valleys I think I have seen them all.
And I have eaten more different varieties of breakfast than I ever knew existed, and most often after or during an exhausting walk or ride. There has been Eggs Benedict, Eggs and Bacon, Egg Sandwiches, Baked Eggs, Egg and Bacon Rolls, Egg Pies, Eggs and Soldiers and too many others to think of. I have eaten inside, outside, standing up, sitting down, driving, riding, walking, and all in the name of research. And let us not mention the vanilla slices and the coffee I suspect that singlehandedly we would have contributed to keep a small South American economy afloat.
I thought the 4am wake up call to walk up the north face of the Matterhorn in the middle of PNG was a brave move, but the 1am call to address Mt Sonder topped that cake. And walking several times at night in the depths of winter, we didn't pass anyone else on the trail, unsurprisingly. But to his credit, I have been rewarded with an afternoon sleep in a luxurious tent in the middle of the day in the middle of Australia, and in a two man (how many people are actually 5 foot tall and 18 inches wide ?) tent along Red Range and at the base of Mt Arden. Bathroom facilities and a hairdryer not quite. Yet, without a doubt, I must mention the on-site caravan in the back blocks of the Flinders Ranges at $10 per night took our relationship to a new level. There was a reason it was only $10 !
And those pesky WeekendNotes awards and scoreboards have had an impact. I now know what the underside of most Jetties look like, and have seen Mt Lofty from many angles and at different times of day, been airbrushed in an open doored helicopter, been deafened in a 3 seater plane and have waited alongside railway crossings for the midnight train to pass, all in order to grab that perfect snap to achieve that elusive award. Hills, rocks, breakfasts everything seemed to focus on how to make that next article worth the maximum ten points.
But the fun didn't just end outside of the house. New computers, more storage and a larger study area became mandatory in the house. Parcels began to arrive and suddenly we had new tripods, zoom lenses, carry bags and note books to take with us on our next day (or night out). New backpacks and suitcases soon arrived after that, and it probably all explains the SUV we bought when we upgraded. But would I change it not a chance - being part of WeekendNotes has been some of the best years of my life. So my advice get on board and get that camera and keyboard clicking. And perhaps find a partner who likes movies, and in particular The Love Boat.
So this is why we write for WeekendNotes. What about you ? What is there about WeekendNotes that encourages and inspires you ? Why do you write ?
Frankly Steve - it's all to do with ego! Seriously though: I write for WeekendNotes because it gives me a reason to exist and enriches my life - communicating with and connecting others as a community.
Why do I write for Weekend Notes?
New Year reflections on being a writer. There are a lot of workshops out there for aspiring writers.
These are valuable and a chance to hear what others are doing. But my instinct is to just get out there and write. Write for Weekend Notes, write about what you love, what irks you, what you find fascinating and inspiring.
I have no trouble taking out the camera and taking pictures these really set up an article. Sometimes they are the starting point.
I also write letters and articles for newsletters and local press. It is about getting your foot in the door.
Sometimes the inspiration to write about events wanes. But I find someone else picks up the slack. I would love to fund a new macro camera lens and/or tripod in 2016.
Great article, Steve!
To be frank and short, the experience and with the natural liking to write, it compels you to travel to different places and the hidden places of Sydney, then being able to share your personal experience