Counting down to Varuna

Louise Allan

In a few months I’ll be making a writing pilgrimage I’ve been dreaming about since I was 18 to stay, wander, daydream, and write at Varuna the Writers’ House, Australia’s national writing residency in the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney.

This November, thanks to an award from Griffith Review, my dream becomes a reality. It suddenly seems very close, and very real. I can almost smell the air in the Blueys.


Lately, as I work every day on completing the first draft of my novel, my tea breaks have been spent Google-stalking Varuna alumna, vicariously soaking up the wonder of their experiences, and reassuring myself it’s ok I’m unwashed and still in my pjs at 3pm after having spent the morning at my desk. These perfect, writerly strangers have provided the dangling carrots needed to see me through until I’m sat at the dinner table with other writers in residence being utterly nourished by Sheila, Varuna’s renowned kitchen magician and chef-extraordinaire.

This week, inspired by the words of a wise one who knows me best, I’ve added a gentle reminder to my desk as I write my way to the end of my manuscript draft.

“Varuna is coming. That’s when you do your deep thinking and rewriting. Now is for being brazen and dreaming awake on your page.”

As I said, she’s a wise one.

The countdown is officially on: three months and the completion of my first draft to go.

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