The rain taps its watery fingers across the roof of the van. The hobo dog and I are curled and cocooned deep inside doonas and pillows though our ears do turn to catch the wind direction and ponder the swell. Around us the campsite is coming to life.

We are here, at a nameless oasis on the NSW coastline exactly a year after the surf trip that birthed ‘the book’, a memoir of my unlikely, late-blooming surfing life.

While I write at home – disciplined, daily journals and poems that sneak past the gatekeeper at 4am – I realise it is here, alone with the dog on salty days that stretch between the heavenly silvers and pinks of dawn and dusk, that I really write.

Here, without the ticking eyes of work and watches and mobile phones with their infinite distractions, I remember my saltwater heritage and reclaim my selkie skin to swim.

Modern life asks us to commit to its daily chatter for how else would we eat? But what is it in the writer’s DNA that demands so much space it can only be satiated alone? In a world of family, lovers, couples, community, business and so much more roiling humanity, why does a writing life plead for these ties to be loosened so much that sometimes they fly off over the horizon like untethered kites in a robust westerly?

Here I treasure silence and the watery conversation between me and the sea.

Here I hoard a solitude that exhumes the ancient expressions of nature buried deep inside my creaking wellspring.

The truth is I’m probably not even very good at writing in a world where comparison and competition rule.

In so many ways though, it’s not about ‘public’ writing. It’s about survival.

It’s about seeking and supporting the primal, hard-wired creativity of cave paintings and spoken-word stories around the campfire; and thus, finding a place in this world, in these times of chaos and control, that is creative. That pries open the heart again and again to breathe.

Tea time

After the groundswell and vigorous beach breaks,

the sweet southerly tiptoed toward the point.

She tilted her head and

peeking around the corner

decided the coast was clear enough to

set her table for tea with a crocheted cloth and

lace runners for longboards to delicately step upon.

Make no sudden moves

or your rails will dig and

your nose will dive;

This is a dance for those with the lightest of touches and

a kindness of spirit;

who lift the tiny tea cup between finger and thumb

little pinky extended for style and balance.

Below, a rocky reef rises as the tide falls.

We glimpse green glints when the sunlight blinks and

the octopus’ garden – stuffed with screeds of seaweed – inhales,

exhales, expands towards the surface.

We slide with wide eyes and shrinking fins.

As dusk draws down

the offshore cumulous ignite like skyward tea roses,

petals exploding in a profusion of pink.

The sinking sun and the rising moon

high five, and

before the light yawns its full-bodied yawn

we turn towards bed and blessed sleep.