I can’t speak for other writers, so I won’t try, but I’ve discovered something recently: my themes are my preoccupations; the ones of which I cannot let go. Seems simple right? You’re wondering how on earth this is an epiphany? You see, I used to read texts and wonder how their authors could so expertly weave the same old ideas through their work time and time again. I thought them masters; pure genius even.

As I set out to write another story, I’ve noticed a pattern in my own work: I seem to return to the nature of time, the bearing of the past upon the present, parenthood, and the waxing and waning love of long term relationships. I wish that I could say that I do it consciously; then I could take more personal responsibility for any depth or resonance in the work, but, in truth, it seems to just happen.

I have been re-reading Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. It’s one of those books that I return to; one that usually hovers somewhere in my room or on my bedside table.  Along with English and Fine Arts, I took Philosophy and History in my first year of uni. I seriously considered continuing with Philosophy but I thought it impractical. How that makes me laugh now. An Arts degree impractical? Really Kristen? For someone who prided herself on personal insight, I had a lot to learn. Fortunately, as it turns out, my degree was not a waste of time. It may not have provided an income or security, but it has coloured my take on the world; it (sometimes!) helps me to make sense of things.

Francis Bacon once said, ‘A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism. But depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion’.

Be warned: I am about to draw a long bow with this analogy…but here goes…

Whilst I consider myself agnostic, and I’m not going to launch into the ins and outs of religion, I think of this quote as something of an analogy for the way in which I view my own journey as an Arts graduate/ artist. I began with blind faith; I imagined that my tertiary education would afford me an exciting career, fulfilment and riches (well, maybe not riches, but at the very least, sustenance!). I ignored the naysayers who asked  ‘…and what, pray, will you do when you finish uni Kristen?’  Of course, when I finished the degree and still had no answers to that question, I lost the faith and wondered why I hadn’t become a dentist or mechanic. Of course, I did the practical thing and chose the ONE year post grad option; teaching.

Ten years later and I’m starting to wonder if that exciting career is not possible after all. I’m beginning to feel the faith again. You, see, I’ve had some news: the short story that I entered in the Margaret River Short Story competition has been shortlisted. It will be published in May, along with 22 other stories (from over 250 submitted). The winner has not yet been announced. There are no words to express my delight.

I’ve also received an invitation to the award ceremony for the TAG Hungerford Award (I submitted my novel manuscript last year). Of course, I hope that I’ve been shortlisted (or I’ve won!), but it will be a great honour to simply be there, in that room, with other people who have taken the great leap of faith that is writing a novel.

I’ve read Sophie’s World quite a few times, but the last time I read it was as an adjunct to the final season of LOST (my all-time favourite tv show). I seem to return to the Gaarder’s book at pivotal moments in my life. I’m not being facetious when I say that the last season of LOST changed my life (in the sense that I no longer had a great program to look forward to!). It feels like my fortunes are changing so I guess you could say that I’m on a precipice again, poised and ready to jump. And maybe that’s why I’m reading Sophie’s World again; it grounds me, helps me to reflect in a productive, positive way when my mind is swimming with possibilities.