An Australian author living in Norway

Tag: Australia

Uncomfortable truths

In the flurry of stress and activity that has been the pulling together of the second Oslo Writers’ League anthology, I almost forgot to contribute a piece myself. In the end, I ran so short on time I had to dig through my short story stock and find something already written, then repurpose it. In this case, where the themes were “Identity” and “Crossroads”, I decided the best fit was a non-fiction piece I wrote under pressure from a former colleague who was fascinated by my discomfort with all things Australian. Being homeless—in the sense of never having really felt “at home” anywhere—is a sensitive subject for me, and writing the piece was both unsettling and revealing. Even when it was complete, I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t very well submit it to Australian journals, not when, to my mind at least, it was unpatriotic to the point of being insulting. But would foreign journals understand it? Or, more importantly, care what it was saying? I doubted it (as I often doubt myself—it’s a writer’s prerogative). So I put it away and tried not to think about it.

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When I lived in Australia I had no immediate plans to leave, indeed I built a house in which I thought I would one day raise my children. But after I left I realised how much of a foreigner I had always felt myself there. Defect is an exploration of my ambivalent feelings for my home country, and how distant I always was from all things Australian.

I wrote this piece intending to build it into a work of fiction, but the subject matter was far too close to me and I couldn’t separate myself from it. It is a raw, honest piece that was quite unsettling to write. It is never a pleasant sensation to realise you are so disconnected from everything and everyone you’ve come from, but in writing it, I was able to put more of a finger on exactly where the disconnect lies.

Defect is complete at 1500 words.

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