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Lucky in Larrimah

IF THE DISTRACTIONS of the big city aren’t helping your writing project, the Andrew McMillan Emerging Writer’s Residency is your chance to hit the track for some peace and writing time in Larrimah.

The annual residency offers two weeks of food and accommodation at the iconic Larrimah Hotel, about 500 clicks from Darwin, between October 2019 and Feb 2020, for one lucky writer. 

Last year’s residency recipient Kaye Aldenhoven had a chat with us about her writing and her time in Larrimah.

Tell us a bit about yourself as a writer and what motivates you to put pen to paper?
I grew up with five adults who read, wrote, drew, and illustrated every afternoon. At 10-years-old I set the goal of reading four books a week. I started my lifelong habit of reading two books concurrently. Emotions and memories motivate me to write. I was a closet writer for 30 years.

Why did you apply for this residency?
I wanted to write about my family’s time on Groote. I wanted to step into Andrew McMillan’s shoes. He was close to me at Larrimah. When I was not writing, I read bits of Andrew’s Strict Rules – the Groote Eylandt section. 

What did you get out of your experience down there?
An opportunity to advance my memoir. A space with less mundane distractions, and a realisation the distractions were in my head, not my kitchen. On the tangible side? 30,000 words. 

Most interesting part about writing from Larrimah? 
Most amusing? Cockies that talked to me as I ate lunch.
Most terrifying? Strength of the big black crocodile’s leap for his lump of flesh – not my flesh, thank God.
Most beautiful? The bush, morning and sunset time, so beautiful and different from both desert and monsoon vegetation.
All these Larrimah aspects featured in my writing – I enjoyed writing the blog.
Any advice for the next person who does the retreat?
Make the most of a brilliant opportunity to work “in the middle of everywhere.”
Top writing tips?
Make writing your habit. Never throw anything out. Write what must not be forgotten. Be brave!


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