I have a picture library. Right now it’s bulging at 77,000 pictures. This is because I need to do some editing. It ought to be about 75,000 pictures. I say this firmly, knowing I’m unlikely to find editing time in the near future.

I use the pictures to teach with, and for my academic self. Those photographs have appeared in various places at various times, even on the covers of my books. I’ve put some of my pictures on Red Bubble. Not many, yet. The biggest reason I take pictures, however, is for my writing.

Every now and again I get a day out, or I travel. I take my camera with me and when I come home, I have something that can provoke a story or help me think through a novel even though I’m physically limited to a few walls and a computer. My mind doesn’t have to be as limited as my physical environment. My mind can fly.

For my story in Nevertheless She Persisted, I used the pictures (mostly lost, alas, due to using someone else’s camera and due to the someone else forgetting my pictures were on it) of a trip I made with some students to a house in the middle of a pine forest and next to a naval base. I want to go back there are collect more photographs, for it is the most amazing place. Out the front door there is a garden and a dark lagoon and two bays and then there is beach. So much beach. Rippling layers of rock peeking out of the waves, waiting for cormorants to land. Big Navy ships coming to land at the giant jetty, causing us to scurry off Navy property quickly and back to the beach and the garden and that dark lagoon. A stack of woodchips sky high, waiting to be trucked to Sydney. Out the back door there is that pine forest and the most inquisitive wallabies. Inside, there is a house from someone’s dream. That was half the story.

The other half of the story was a bus trip I went on to see an opera written by friends. I travelled from Canberra to Wollongong to discover the Dancing Mice. This journey took me through Moss Vale and through Robertson and right over the mountains.

Recently, two of my friends took me back to Robertson (famous for its meat pies and giant potato) to complete my photos for a novel set in the same version of Australia as the one with the evil platypus. That end of the journey, then, is now complete. I can recall the bushfire smoke and the heat any day I want to write in that setting.

My photographs are a lot more than numbers in folders.


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