Writing when you are hot

Would the person who invented global warming please switch it off?

Here in South Australia we have had a warm summer – no, make that an extremely HOT summer. Adelaide is the capital city of our state and today it recorded its twelfth day over 40C (104F) for the summer, eclipsing the previous record of 11 days set 117 years ago. And the forecast for tomorrow is 42C, extending the new record even further. While the next few days after that promise to be a little cooler, we still have 17 days of summer left.

While the city temperatures have been very high this summer, the large rural town where I live – Murray Bridge – is usually a few degrees hotter again. Every summer we expect at least three or four days in the region of 45C (113F) or even higher. On days like that one simply avoids going outside unless it is absolutely necessary. By way of extreme contrast, the following day it can plummet to about 20C (68F) with a strong southerly cool breeze off the Southern Ocean.

You get used to it…

…or move to Tasmania, New Zealand or Alaska.

Getting the energy and motivation to write on such extreme weather days can be a challenge but one I relish. It means I have an excuse to bunker down in my office… and write – or read. I have a small air conditioner in the office, but it really is not up to the task of cooling the whole room. It’s okay if I aim it directly at me. So last week we invited an air conditioning consultant in to assess what we could do to improve the situation. I haven’t ordered a new split system yet, but I will do so soon.

It may be too late for this summer – there is a 4 week delay in installation – but the heating capacity of the unit will be great on those chilly, nose-biting frosty mornings we get here in winter.

And then there’s always next summer.

UPDATE: 14th February – the cooler weather has arrived as promised by the weather bureau, and so has the rain. We’ve had over 70mm in the last 24 hours. Considering that our average for February is only 15, and our annual average 344mm, this is a significant weather event.


Langhorne Creek Writers’ Festival, South Australia

Langhorne Creek is one of the many wine growing districts of South Australia. It is less than a hour’s drive from the capital city Adelaide and even closer to my home town.

Wine and writing as well as wine and reading go hand in hand, one complementing the other.

So it is no surprise that the Alexandrina Council is supporting and promoting the Langhorne Creek Writers’ Festival to be held later this year.

There is also a writing competition but unfortunately this closes in a few days’ time; if you hurry you may get your entry in on time.

Dates: September 21 – October 19th


Writing prompt: rainy days

I should take a photo of the rain pouring down outside, and the large puddle of water in our driveway. It is freezing out there, so I’ll just stay in my nice warm office and write about it instead. Take the easy option – quite a reasonable motto in this situation. Looking out of my window is not easy, what with all the raindrops pouring down the glass. So that eliminates taking a photo through the window too. Never mind.

Where I live in rural South Australia, rain is something to celebrate as we don’t often get downpours like we’ve had over the last 36 hours. Here in SA we often say that we are the driest state in the driest continent. It’s a claim which probably isn’t completely accurate, but we say it all the same. I don’t mind cold, wet winter’s days. It gives me a perfect excuse not to go out and weed the garden, or mow the grass, or chop the firewood, or fix that gutter, or… I think you get my point.

Instead, I like to stoke up the fire, make a good cup of tea and settle down with a good book. Or even an average book. Truth be told, I don’t get to do that as often as I’d  like to these days. My writing takes up a good part of the day, my church involvement takes up some of every day, and now my lecturing position is further cutting into each day. Relaxing with a good book is becoming a luxury but it’s something I need to make sure I do. Taking time out to relax is important.

Writing prompt: what do you like to do on cold, rainy days?

Good writing – and reading.

Opinion: a ridiculous state of affairs

Some things really rile me. They get under my skin and irritate me like the itch of a hundred mosquito bites.

Today is a public holiday throughout South Australia for the running of the Adelaide Cup.

Ridiculous if you ask me.

The Adelaide Cup is, at best, a second rate horse race when compared to say the Melbourne Cup. It interests only a few thousand people and for that a whole state grinds to a halt. It just shows how morally bankrupt our state has become. It is a ridiculous excuse for a holiday in an era when our state should be doing everything possible to be productive.

But then – the same thing could be said of many of our public holidays.

I hope you have a wonderful day, and if you live here in SA,  enjoy your break.

What I am reading: ‘Hiam’ by Eva Sallis

‘Hiam’, a novel by South Australian writer Eva Sallis, is an unusual novel.

My immediate reaction is that it is more lyrical than prosaic. The poetic devices used by Sallis dominate the narrative. Many passage could be quoted to back up this opinion. The story telling elements near the end of the novel are pure poetry, particularly the gazelle story.

I was in awe as I read the many beautiful passages in the writing. Sentences like this one are most memorable: The Aunties are all creeping on tiptoe around their hearts. Other images are simply haunting. The road was the protagonist’s straitjacket, the car her prison, or her skull; herself the thread of life.

Initially I felt great anticipation as I read of the place names in the early pages. They were all recognisable places here in South Australia giving me an instant identification with the story. Not too far on, however, the novelist took me as the reader into a strange and very unfamiliar world. The psychotic world of a very confused and hurting main character is very disturbing. I couldn’t put my finger on the cause of this disturbance in my reaction until late in the novel when the main character Hiam plainly states that her husband had killed himself. All the evidence was there from the beginning, of course – I had merely not fully understood.

Hiam’s sense of isolation in Australia is clearly drawn by the author throughout the novel. This was her first encounter with rural and inland Australia. Everything seemed strange to her and she encounters many things which are alien to her from her cultural understandings. There are some constant elements in Hiam’s journey of discovery. Thoughts, memories and dreams of her husband, her daughter and her religion help her through her desolation.


  • Hiam by Eva Sallis, published by Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998. It was the winner of the Australian/Vogel Literary Award.