Friday, January 15, 2010

In my dream I am at a writer’s convention, a workshop of sorts, akin to the one held in the Blue Mountains of Katoomba, but the location is different. This workshop is held near the beach. The houses in which the workshop participants are located sit atop two rocky outcrops that overlook the sea. It is necessary between sessions to walk from one house to the other and sessions are short. Generally they run for about fifteen minutes each.

I can keep up the pace through the first few days but coming towards the end of the workshop I begin to feel tired. Tired and disappointed. I have not connected well with any of my fellow participants. Although I have made an effort to be friendly and to chat, no one else is forthcoming. Every conversation is brief and superficial.

There is a hierarchy of superiority at this workshop as well. The more advanced writers are given the opportunity to stay on an extra day free of charge but they will need to run a group for novice writers in return.

I would like to be in this position but I have not been chosen and even if I were I could not. I have made arrangements to return home after a week and I cannot extend my stay. I feel unhappy and dissatisfied in a familiar way. I long to feel part of this group but I cannot. Even the woman with whom I travelled to the workshop, a woman whom I have known for a long time, disappoints me. She is tight and ungenerous. She is even reluctant to join the final dinner on the last evening.

I overhear a man on his mobile phone making arrangements for this dinner, which I would like to join and somehow he hands me the phone and I have a brief conversation with my husband about my plans for my return. When I finish the conversation I offer first to let the man use my mobile phone to make up for the time spent on his.

‘Alternatively,’ I say, ‘I can pay the cost of the call. How much do you reckon it’s worth?’

The man is lying on a couch beside his girlfriend.

‘About $150.00,’ she says, without even looking at him.

‘That’s an expensive phone call, ‘ I say. ‘Are you sure?’

‘It could even be as high as two hundred,’ she says.

I retract my offer to pay money. ‘You can use my phone instead.’ I feel ripped off; cheated by this couple and suddenly I am exhausted. I struggle back to the other house and decide to opt out of the next group meeting.

I need to climb three steps to get to my room but am hindered by a man asleep on the top step. He grabs hold of my leg as I climb over the top of him. It seems a friendly gesture and I welcome the contact. Then one of the organisers, a man with a clipboard, comes along and tells me I must return for the next session. I tell him I have plans to skip it but he insists.

The other man still asleep on the top step ignores the organiser and I would like to do likewise but I cannot. I grab my notebook and make my way back to the group. Before I get there I and wake up.

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