Yesterday I was staring at a blank screen in Word. I’ve been here many times before. Generally I have an idea, a name or an event. Generally I have some idea of what I want to write about. I begin with an opening sentence, any sentence will do and then I just keep writing in the hope that some of it stays on the page. That’s how my writing began, looking at a blank screen after the children left home. I bought the computer for them, not me. Then they grew up and left home to discover themselves, or something like that. But the computer stayed. It became part of the furniture like my dog, Rufus. Every time I looked at it, it looked back, just like Rufus. Rufus is a black, grey, tan, gold and white German Shepherd who, when he’s not madly running in the park trying to catch a Frisbee, will often be seen camped at my feet wherever I am. The local children love him. He tolerates them because he knows he has to; it’s a rule I impressed upon him in the early years. He’s more mature now and doesn’t get excited as quickly as he used to. He has a friend who lives next door; a cat named Ginger. They are soul mates. Ginger comes over the fence each morning after her breakfast and they sit together on the back landing and enjoy the warmth of the sun.
But back to my computer. After the children left, it just sat there staring at me so I wondered if I should feed it. Then one day I turned it on, played around a little and realised it could feed me. Suddenly Rufus’ privileged position in the house was under threat. He never realised that I had found a new love, but it didn’t matter. He still got fed, got patted on the head as he sat at my feet, got taken for walks; he never knew the truth.
“I’m going to write the great Australian novel,” I said to Rufus. “What shall I call it?” Rufus looked up and turned his head slightly sideways, the way dogs do when they think you need help. It was then I noticed the old photograph on the side cabinet; the one of Mum and Dad standing together in the garden of our family home. That photo had been sitting there on that same cabinet for nearly thirty years. I rescued it from the family home when Dad finally passed away. They are both gone now but I recalled how much they loved their garden, how they loved sitting out on the porch to enjoy the view of their garden after a full day weeding, planting, edging, mowing.
“So, what shall I call it?” I asked again of Rufus, who once again cocked his head. Then, as if in direct response to my question, he got up on all fours and walked to the sliding doors leading out to my rear garden. He looked out, then looked back at me. I got up and joined him.
“You’re a genius,” I said. That’s what I’ll call it. I returned quickly to my computer and typed in, “The View from My Garden.”
It was no longer a blank page.