In 5 minutes with author, Over60 asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Rachael Treasure, an author based in southern rural Tasmania. Her 2002 debut novel Jillaroo has been recognised for inspiring more women’s stories to be shared in the contemporary rural genre. Her screenplay Albert’s Chook Tractor was filmed for SBS Independent TV. Her seventh novel, White Horses is out now.
Over60 talked with Treasure about brainwave states, sustainable farming and finding time to write in the ute.
Over60: What is your best writing tip?
Rachael Treasure: Trust that there’s a big swirling creative field of energy inside you. As a writer our job is to get beyond the everyday beta brainwave state – the state that is self-critical, fearful of other’s judgement or limiting. Once you allow yourself to get into an alpha brainwave state and beyond you can then relax and trust the ideas to come and let the creativity flow.
What book do you think more people should read?
My latest novel White Horses – not just because I wrote it but because I’ve woven my heart and soul into it. It’s a book to show that no matter what life throws at you, you can heal. The book also gives people hope that regenerative agriculture can help us reverse climate change and the ill health of humanity.
What was the last book that made you laugh?
Meg Bignell’s The Sparkle Pages – it’s about a Tasmanian mother who is struggling with life. It’s poignant, funny and a very clever first time novel.
How has living and working in rural Australia influenced your writing?
My rural journey underpins all my novels – from serious issues like rural youth suicide and succession planning where the farm is often left to sons and not daughters, to the land degradation we now see across the entire continent… it’s all taken from my direct experience. On the upside also in my stories is my daily work on the farm. We are restoring the ecology and regenerating our soil using regenerative farming techniques. Mother Nature is responding so well it inspires me to keep using story to get information out to the masses. I want to entertain my readers, and I also want other farmers to see how they can cut costs, reduce chemical use and avoid droughts and return their land and life to healthy systems.
There is no routine, but I aim to write everyday even if I can only find ten minutes. I generally do the morning farm chores, drop the kids to school, do an hour or so in a café on the way back to the farm then move the livestock. We move our sheep and cows daily so the land gets long rests. Then I write again on my laptop – either in the ute or sitting in the shed or the paddock. Sometimes I get an idea whilst cooking and I write on my laptop on the kitchen bench… the meals on those nights are often a bit hit and miss!
Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I don’t get writer’s block as I’ve learned about brainwave states and how they impact creativity. So if I feel sluggish in terms of creativity, I meditate for ten minutes. Plus, my life is so varied and rich that inspiration is all around me! I only have to look at our Aloeburn Poll Merino ewes or our cows to come up with an idea. Or look at people as I drive to school. Art is all about observation. So I look and listen and observe all the time. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is a brilliant book for people who feel they are blocked artistically.
Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?
Can I have a dinner party? There are so many! I’ve had dinner with Monica McInerney in Dublin and that was beautiful and I’d love to do it again, however I think on the top of the list would be William Shakespeare. It would be very entertaining and interesting given the language and era difference, and culturally I’d love to see what he thought of me – a Tassie-as lass!
What trope grinds your gears?
Something that really irritates me is this belief that farmers are in drought because it hasn’t rained. It’s not true. We are in drought because in 200 years of white settlement we have drained the marshes, drained the river mouths to allow ships in, overgrazed the land, ploughed our soils so they blow away, reduced biodiversity in everything and continue to now kill most life in the soil to grow monoculture crops that have very little nutrients. All these things are avoidable and that’s where I stop getting irritated and begin to get excited as we and other farmers all over Australia and the world are changing to regenerative farming, so we have healthier food and healthier environments and cleaner water.