I’m writing my dear friend’s biography, which has the working title of Not Forgotten. It’s been a labour of love, but often, more like hard dull labour than passionate love. I have felt like a pregnant elephant, holding this huge story deep inside me for the longest time. But elephants only gestate for two years, and this book has been in production for over four years. I now know that four years is not unusual for a book. The process seems endless – interview, research, write, get feedback from readers, edit, interview more people, write, get more feedback from readers, edit. Repeat multiple times. Then become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, drown in self-doubt, pick yourself up and get going again.
I blogged in 2015 for a year. The purpose was to hone my writing skills while my husband Steven and I enjoyed six restorative months away from our busy lives, travelling the world. Those posts are still here, now mostly irrelevant, but I can’t bear to delete them. Since then I have continued to work on Not Forgotten. Now I’m firing up the blog again to motivate me through the final stages of labour – getting it from a manuscript to publication.
During the gestation period Not Forgotten has led me to thought-provoking places; the magnificent State Library of Victoria, an orphanage for critically ill children in China, a psychiatrist’s room, a rock climbing expedition and decaying buildings in Far North Queensland. I have become the keeper of my friend’s family history, with cupboards overflowing with documents, diaries and photos of people I do not know. My life has been enriched by the growth of a cherished friendship.
I can’t wait for you to meet my friend in Not Forgotten. I know you will be astonished at her courage, I hope you will admire her, as I do. In 1954, at just two-years old, she was placed in St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol. My friend is one of 500,000 so called Forgotten Australians. This dismal label describes a group of adults who, as children, were mistreated and ignored in Australian institutional care between 1920 and 1970. These children spent their childhood in State, church and charity run orphanages and homes.
Sixty years later my friend courageously gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Her life has been a battle to recover from the abuse that was perpetrated against her as a child. Its been an honour to hear and record her story. Now I just need to find a way so you can hear it too.