I was sixteen when my nomadic uncle invited me to visit him and my aunt in Sydney for a few weeks. It was 2003, and the events of 9/11 still loomed in the nation’s minds. But seeing the world surmounts all else in my mind, and I had yet to visit anywhere major, other than Disney World.
So I hopped my first commercial flight—solo—to California and on to Australia. Overall, a 20-hour flight.
The experience provided a foundational shift into my adult self, as much of my writing (both fiction and non-) reflects. It also created a deep-hearted soft spot in my soul for the country. This, among other reasons (my insanity, perhaps) can somewhat explain why I often slip into a mixed British/Aussie accent, why anything relating to Oz automatically piques my interest, and why I enjoy discombobulating people with my half-adopted slang/spelling choices.
I have one novel WIP right now that combines my experience abroad with that of my imagination, and runs wild with it.
It’s a trademark of writers, I believe, that even the smallest, random and insignificant details from life can trigger a huge story idea. That’s what happened on my trip Down Under. I remember plain as day: we were in the grocery store and a young male cashier was handling our transaction. My aunt later asked if I thought he was cute. Innocent, honest question, I suppose. What comes of it? A story about a girl who becomes best friends with a guy on her holiday in Oz!
I promise there’s more to the story than that, but as I’ve only just made it through the rough draft (thank you, NaNoWriMo) these six years later, I’m still tweaking the finer points.
In the meantime, Oz continues to captivate me with its existence and cultures. Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th—which technically is tomorrow, but over there tomorrow is today. XD
As I said, my trip inspires much of my writing, and it’s actually because of a class in composition that I learnt about this holiday.
The assignment: describe how a chosen photo represents patriotism. Typical me, I wanted to avoid 9/11-related ideas. I knew the whole class would do that, and I wanted to be different. So I wrote an essay showing that patriotism isn’t strictly American, and the term doesn’t always coincide with war. I picked a photo of an Aussie medical team celebrating their national holiday while helping out overseas.
And now I want some vegemite.