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Bonzer Words!: To Write Or Not To Write?

Colleen McMillan tells of the flowering of her urge to write.

Colleen writes for Bonzer! magazine. For more word feasts visit www.bonzer.org.au

I am sitting here writing. I love to write, to escape into a world of my imagination. To people that land with characters and venues to which I have given birth. They are mine, somewhat coloured by life's experiences, but mine.

Yet, always there is the nagging whisper, it is too late, you are too old. You have been down too many paths, some through necessity, some through self-indulgence.

I see myself, a small girl, in fifth class in a one-room rural school. It is an important day; the School Inspector is visiting. Our teacher's nervousness is contagious and I feel again my consternation when the Inspector, after consulting the roll, called my name. "Are you Jimmy King's daughter?" he asked.

I managed, "yes," nodding my head.

"Well!" he said, "I used to teach Jimmy and a bright little boy he was too." And to my teacher, he then said, "I hope Colleen is as good at her lessons."

My teacher, Miss Shiply, muttered something unintelligible.

Abruptly, he then turned to the blackboard and wrote a single word, "Fire." Fifth and Sixth Class were to write on that topic while he examined their other exercise books.

Well, write I did. Delighted to be freed from an atmosphere I found threatening, I escaped into a world of colour, of words, of fantasy. I became totally absorbed in my world. I forgot time, I forgot fear, I didn't hear the other children leave for play. I did not know Mr. Fletcher had put a finger to his lips signaling their silence.

Finished, I looked up to see him patiently waiting. Scarlet faced, I leapt to my feet, thrust my book at him and fled. Doubtless he said something but I did not hear.

Later that day he asked my permission to put my "Fire" in a competition (after I had re-written it with spelling corrections). It won.

I slam the door on my nagging whisper and write again, not as confidently as then, but I write—happily.

© C McMillan

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