by Samuel Wagan Watson

TL SWW 1 1


I probably don’t need to shake-it for another couple of hours.  I’m flying out at around nine o’clock from Brisbane airport, and it’s a Thursday.  Tuesday mornings are the worst.  Traffic is congested on the Gateway Arterial from 6.30am until around 9.  No one knows how to merge onto the Gold Coast motorway!  In my day-to-day work as a writer I need to know this because I haven’t missed a flight…yet.  I dread the moment that happens.  I’ve never paid for a flight in my life, and I wouldn’t know how to, and my agent might give me one of her evil-incarnate-I-work-hard-to-get-you-this-booking look.   So, waking now and making sure my kit is intact and together is ritual.  I do this once a fortnight and have been doing this once a fortnight ever since I was asked to read at my first major interstate writers shin-dig in 1999.  I didn’t even have a book out then.  My book-signing line at the Byron Bay Writers Festival that year was real slim.

But I wasn’t late for that either.

[24 hours ago…]

Work has been about as blue, as flat, and about as ironed-out as a chambre at a Tony Abbott memorial dinner.  Melbourne Writers Festival was good…real good.  But I’m back home in Brisbane now and the work is starting to thin out into the warm, dry of Christmas season.  To head south again to a festival is a survival instinct.  The schools are closed and no body wants to hire a writer.  A conservative government is in office too; let’s not hire anyone to ‘schmick-up’ our policy statements!


My basic kit will hopefully cover me for the next 4 days. I have a nightmare reading that will go for over an hour and 30 minutes with an ensemble of talented classical musicians. I agreed to turn a collection of my poetry into a really nice cabaret of chamber music, and it works quite well.

This is a typical ‘day in the office’. The neighbours see the lights on at these weird hours when kookaburras don’t even call.  They observe me hauling luggage, disappearing for days and weeks at a time.  I’m not a serial killer…NO, I’m much worse!

I log onto email as the dawn draws closer, and make sure no one has cancelled on me.  Checking my bank account must seem a moot-idea to some, but I’m a writer who does make money and has a fiscal conscience.  I’ve printed off flight tickets and basics days ago.

I’m packing two pairs of black pants, black shoes, a couple of jackets and black shirts.  Heavy duty socks and boxer shorts are important. Travel can rip the crap out of you. Comfort is a necessity!  My two latest books are also part of the arsenal.  A really good phone charger makes the pack too!  I was in Colombia two months ago and no one was using an iPhone 5.  The iPhone is a one-stop multi-media shop for a poet on the run!

I think I’m almost packed and ready?


I really like ‘Outlook.com’ as a carriage or my emails.  A magazine has requested a BIO of only 50 words, NOT 67!  And they may get around to paying me for the poem they’ve selected in a future issue. I decide to upload certain things that I might need this weekend – saves carrying a USB drive.

I remember an ex sitting me down on a bed, that I never slept in again, after the day she told me; “I thought that living with a poet would be…passionate…glamorous?”

This is the truth and this is as mechanical as it gets!

I just booked a cheap little motel room in the middle of Melbourne’s CBD for tonight so I can basically just chill today and travel down to the festival tomorrow.  The modern poet needs and can easily acquire a VISA Debit card.  PLEASE get a card and do yourself a favour Peeps! (Especially when having to check-in.)  Sorry JACK but I don’t do anything on the road without a bit of back up.


An early bird has cockled just now…this is my favourite part of the day in Brisbane.  In the east and over the bay, fragments of orange tickle the darkness.

I usually try to make time at this stage of the day to formulate a haiku that can set the writing-pace for the next 24 hours…

spring flirts immensely,
rain kissing honey-suckle
a flower blushes…

And I’ll work on this haiku and prose poem for the time being…part of my daily regime is to create something that can be published apart from my regular commissioned work.

People regularly ask me what I do, and sometimes I seriously don’t know how to answer?  I write for a living, and right now the living is flat!   I have no formal education in literature, but I know what I like.

Southerly had an editor over 20 years ago that gave one of my poems a shot and the rest is history.  Basically, what I’m giving you in my first POST is a how I work with very little romance. The lines I can work every day rise or fall, flatten, depending on the needs of the client and the audience…

I’ll make the next post a bit more bombastic! I will be hanging out with the likes of Slava Grigoryan’s genius in the next 72 hours…join me in a couple of days for my posting please:  The Sound of Music…

Copyright©2015Samuel Wagan Watson