I’ve just returned from Western Australia where I had a fabulous, productive and rewarding time as Emerging Writer in Residence at Katharine’s Place – Katharine Susannah Pritchard Writer’s Centre in the hills outside Perth. KSP was the first Australian woman to be published internationally and the first to write about Indigenous issues. I’ve had Katharine’s picture on my wall for many years now but I love the photo of her above, at the house itself, feeding her friends the magpies. She was a staunch social justice advocate and an all round wonderful woman and I was thrilled, when after years of applying, I was finally granted three weeks in residence. I stayed in Aldridge Cabin beside Katharine’s original writing studio at the top of the hill overlooking Perth’s skyline in the distance.
Katharine’s warm and welcoming presence was in evidence throughout the whole centre. The people who worked at KSP and everyone on the board were enthusiastic and went out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed for a great stay. I loved being up at the big house where people have seen ghosts, all friendly, but I didn’t see any apparitions, only felt a loving grandmotherly energy that reminded me of my own Nana. For me that was Katharine. Everyone I encountered at KSP seemed to embody that spirit. I was deeply impressed by the open, inclusive and nurturing nature of the centre.
The steady procession through the house of groups and writers of all stripes, genres, experience and capabilities is what makes KSP different from most other writers’ centres I’ve encountered. It is a truly inclusive community where differences are celebrated and embraced. This is its key strength and indicative of Katharine’s egalitarian spirit living on.
A highlight was my memoir workshop with a great group of keen memoirists who wrote pieces that surprised themselves, and me.
But best of all was the Literary Dinner with a Christmas in July theme. I will always count it as one of the highlights of my writing career. The dinner was amazing— a feast prepared by board members with the most delicious homemade brandy custard ever. But even better was the enthusiastic reception of my readings by Santa Claus in the front row – providing timely sound effects – and the rest of the crowd in paper hats and festive wear. It felt like I was reading to a group of loving family members and it was wonderful to see people’s reactions to my freshly minted story and know that it had moved them. Writers don’t often have that privilege. I was perhaps a little overexcited by all the attention after prolonged solitude and finished up the Q and A session by doing the splits!
During the three weeks of my residency, I redrafted “M” a period thriller screenplay I’m working on, wrote “Breath of Life” a new 4500 word short story, submitted two other full length works to several publishers, and rethought and reorganised my ongoing memoir project “Dear Madman” and even got halfway through that rewrite.
I took long walks in the incredible John Forrest National Park, which is only a short walk away and includes a spooky disused railway tunnel and even a waterfall, did plenty of yoga, and wrote like a fury.
I heartily recommend a residency at Katharine’s Place for anyone needing some nurturing of their creative spirit, and some peace and a perfect cabin to let that spirit fly.
Applications for Emerging Writers are open till 29 July – so get your entry in quickly!
THANK YOU KATHARINE! And a big thank you to everyone at KSP Writers’ Centre who made my time there such a joy!
Lots of love, Edwina xx