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From the shore, they look like rubber, like shiny black bicycle tires bobbing in the waves. But then they spout, or roll a square-edged fin into the air. And you realise no, those are whales.

The size of them is joyous.

We spent three nights last week in Warrnambool for my birthday. Work has been grinding me down lately, so it was good to get away. We walked along the beach. We visited the historical maritime village. And we saw the whales. Even with binoculars they were mostly just rubbery black streaks in the waves. But they were still magnificent.

On the train down, I finished Keith Gray's The Fearful, and started reading Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.

We stayed at the Lighthouse Lodge. At night, the house creaked and moaned in the wind, and I would wake up in the dark, unsure if someone was walking down the corridor outside our room.

I spent a lot of time thinking about ghost stories.

At the Melbourne Writer's Festival, American author Junot Díaz talked about writing short stories. If you don't know how to end your short story, he said, you need to read a thousand stories, and then you'll grow the heart for short stories, and you'll know how to end it.

There was a lot to love at the Writer's Festival: teen blogger Tavi Gevinson's keynote on the importance of being a fan, Magda Szubanski's story about her father, who at age 16 was an assassin for the Polish Resistance, a masterclass with Scott Westerfeld. And I felt proud for Lisa Dempster, the Festival's new director, whom I met through the Emerging Writer's Festival.

But afterwards I felt hollow and pointless. Because I'm not writing, and haven't written anything for months.

Writer's block is not the absence of ideas. Writer's block is the feeling that all your ideas are shit.

I'm trying to write a ghost story. It's not working. It floats dark and shapeless inside me.

I can't pull it to the surface yet. My heart is not yet grown.


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February 2019

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