Writer in Residence: Kirstie Clements Insights & Experience at Ovolo Woolloomooloo
Within the walls of Ovolo Woolloomooloo, where effortless living and effervescent experiences come together to create the ultimate home away from home, Australian media icon and best-selling author Kirstie Clements has been working down to the wire to complete her sixth book. Discover how creativity flourishes where stunning design, fashion and playful art filled interiors collide to make Ovolo Hotels some of the best retreats for authors and other creatives to work and write with a Writer in Residence.
From the Writer…
It may have been a sign, but the day I moved into a loft at the Ovolo Woolloomooloo, to begin a 7 night “Writer in Residence” style retreat, there was a hashtag trending on Twitter #harshwritingadvice. The overall message, the actual brutal truth is that in order to produce a book, one must actually sit down and write. To find space in a crowded world, in your own crowded head is the big issue. It can be challenging to write at home: you find yourself procrastinating, looking for distractions, reasons not to sit, not to be still and quiet your mind and produce. To have a loft, all to yourself for a week, with no intrusions, just the quiet hum of the air conditioner and the clinking of the boat masts moored outside is a wonderful moment of calm. Note to self – stay off Twitter.
After checking in to my lovely loft, overlooking tranquil Woolloomooloo Bay Wharf, I take quick stock of everything in the room that will help me to concentrate finish my book, which is so close to completion. A complimentary yoga mat, a coffee machine, a fridge full of sparkling water that is replenished daily, the rain splashing gently on the roof. The day outside is grey and damp, and I am cosy and alone. I spend the afternoon in the bed upstairs, propped up on squishy pillows, reading and re-editing the previous words I had written. No one is asking for me, the phone doesn’t ring, I have no plans. I drift off to sleep early, listening to the faint sounds of Marvin Gaye drifting up from Alibi Bar below and watching the moonlight shimmer on the black water outside the window.
I don’t know what happened. I sat at the table downstairs in my room and wrote from 9am until 6.30pm without looking up. As writers know, it is a tough call to stay at your desk all day but when everything is taken care of, your bed made, the room temperature perfect, no knocks on the door, then the world slips away, and you can focus. On occasion I glance out the window, across to the Botanic Gardens and Lady Macquarie’s Chair, watching the joggers and people going about their day. In the evening, the restaurants along the wharf come alive, the gentle clink of glasses and cutlery and the murmur of the diners wafting up to remind you that there is a world outside to re-join. But not yet. I’m getting too much done.
An hour of in room yoga and I am downstairs at Ovolo Woolloomooloo’s Alibi Bar & Kitchen by 8am for strong black coffee and pastries. My next-door neighbour emerges from her room with two large dogs – the hotel is pet friendly! Even more reason to stay. The rain has lifted, and the day outside looks bright, but I am keen to get back to the keyboard and make the most of my solitude. What a treat it is, to be right on the edges of the CBD, and about 15 minutes from home but feel like you are in some far-flung destination. There is nothing to worry about. The hotel will take care of everything. I turn the radio onto Triple J chill. Keep writing. I will be hungry later, and I mentally tick off the establishments below. Shall I wander down and eat solo, reflecting on what I achieved today? Or invite a friend, share a meal at China Doll, or Otto? My soft bed will be waiting upstairs, my private retreat, that already feels like home.
I have settled into a routine, breakfast at Alibi, and then back at the desk by 9.30am, excited by the idea that I have a long quiet day ahead in my loft with zero distractions. I’ve often wondered whether a staycation was that they were cracked up to be. Didn’t the real world intrude if you were still in your own city? The answer is no, once you check in, you mentally check out of your day-to-day issues and can access the more creative part of your brain. What is there to stress about, when the hotel and the restaurants below provide everything you could possibly need. After a productive day, I close my laptop contentedly. and walk down the wharf, to join a friend for dinner at China Doll. The breeze is warm and soothing, and the city lights spill onto the inky water, I’ve almost completed my first draft. I can’t wait to slip back into what I now consider to be my bed.
Something has clicked in my brain. I have absolutely no desire to leave the hotel, ever.
A friend from interstate calls and wants to meet for breakfast in nearby Potts Point. Leaving the cocooning safety of my loft feels strange, the sun feels hot and strange on my face. Then I remember the proximity of all those great cafes and boutiques in Pott Point. I could spend a few hours shopping! I remind myself I have a draft to finish and I have to get back to my desk. The afternoon flies past, as do my fingers on the keyboard. I spend the evening in bed, watching television and drinking tea, with nothing or no one to disturb the lovely solitude.
A yoga session in my room via Zoom and I power through the day. Three coffees later and my first draft is complete. The change of scenery, the absence of daily chores and of interruptions (except for the luxury of room service!) meant my brain was free to create and concentrate. The loft room has felt spacious enough to be holed up for a week, cosy and contemplative. To celebrate the finish of a fabulous and productive retreat at Ovolo Woolloomooloo, I meet friend’s downstairs on the wharf that evening, for Sydney rock oysters and a crisp Riesling at Manta and we toast to the completion of my book. I never want to leave.
Checkout. My final breakfast at Alibi, where the restaurant manager knows I like my coffee black and strong. I return to my room to pack reluctantly, watching the boats sail out for the day. For artists, for writers, for anyone with a project and a need for space, a week in splendid seclusion has been the ultimate oasis. Seven days of pure luxury. Thank you, Ovolo Woolloomooloo.