Night light 1990

Yesterday a reader contacted me out of the blue and asked about Night Light, a story from The Age, from 1990. The reader had first read the story back then, when she was in Year 12. Her mother had posted the story to her.

”She used to send my sisters and me newspaper cuttings all the time – still does, but sadly not nearly as often – and they helped keep homesickness at bay.”

I found the story and emailed it. “Thanks,” said the reader, “the story is like an old friend. It’s just that life seems so strange all of a sudden and your piece is familiar and gentle and reminds me of a much more innocent time in my life.”

Re-reading the story all these years later I could see that it has themes that have been forever recurrent in my quiet writing life: music, grief, solitude, sport, the beach, letter-writing, Williamstown. All there in seven paragraphs.

The first, hand-written, draft was written on the 29 January, 1989. Another hand-written draft two days later. Then  two drafts on the Brother electric typewriter. Then posted (or perhaps faxed ) to the Home supplement  at The Age on 2 February 1989. And published 12 months later, if my hand-written note at the top of the story is correct.

Thank you, dear reader who contacted me out of the blue.

5 comments

  1. Vin. This piece is beautiful. Thankyou.
    You wrote this before our kids were even born. What a great soul you are.
    W

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. A really quiet, gentle & poignant story. Also conversely weighted.

    I was feeling the sweltering Summer’s night. That feeling of motionless, hanging, all-consuming heat inducing lethargy in the small in between hours which can feel very lonely, but also sometimes comforting. Sort of suspended in time & between days. Hearing the music, pacing the room. Then you drop that memory in, second last paragraph.

    It seems a side thought, even an after-thought, but it is apparent once you read it that it is the point of the story & everything else is mood setting. Lulled into a sense of quietness & stillness, until the disquiet of the memory. Waking us up. Making us uncomfortable. We can’t sleep either now & it’s only in that second last paragraph that we know why we can’t.

    You are really such a craftsman. Such humble story telling – because it’s never flashy or loud. Never showing how smart you are. Just quietly, modestly – but very much intended & designed, we come around a blind turn to the reveal. It can be a small thing, it can be a big thing (like this one), but it always feels natural & organic. I am always blown away by your work Vin. Your voice & your writing is one of a kind. Like a singing voice, I think I would know it anywhere, even untitled & unintroduced.

    c.p.

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