A Curious Life

I wrote this piece a few weeks ago as homework for a training course on feature article writing. I had only 15 minutes to interview the person sitting next to me, one night to write it and a strict 500 word limit. The facilitator gave me a glowing review with very few mark-ups which boosted my confidence, but most importantly, I really enjoyed doing it. Building this simple story with only a few blocks was an unexpected thrill. This little piece was a turning point for me. I told my boss on skype a few days later that I want to start writing stories for Wycliffe as well, not just creating photo-stories. So I’m giving it some air time here on the blog. I hope you enjoy it.

A Curious Life

Peta Lewin’s natural curiosity leads her on adventures of writing, travelling and parenting.

Why is petrol cheaper on Tuesdays? Do pokie machine profits really support the local community? Peta Lewin is curious.  An aspiring writer, Lewin is seeking stories that investigate the heart of social issues. “I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I was at school,” muses Lewin as she reflects on her recent decision to take up writing again as a hobby. Now that her son is in the workforce, “I’ve decided to go back to where I left off,” she says.

Lewin starting writing copy for the clients of her burgeoning graphic design business in the 1980s and eventually took herself to university to “legitimise her writing,” as she puts it. Starting out on a communications degree with an Asian studies sub-major, Lewin graduated with just the opposite – an Asian studies degree with a communications sub-major. “I discovered this amazing love of all things Asian,” she explains as she gazes into the distance with a whimsical smile.

Lewin travels regularly throughout Southeast Asia to feed this infatuation and sites Bali as her most favourite destination.  “I love Bali – I think it’s an amazing place when you don’t just skim the surface.” Recently returned from her second trip to celebrate her 50th birthday, Lewin ventured outside the normal tourist trails this time and got a glimpse of the rich culture of Balinese daily life. “I think if you do something a little bit risky, overseas, that’s the stuff you remember. You gain more if you don’t stick to the safe way of travelling.”

Indeed when he was just a toddler, Lewin’s curiosity took her son Sam on adventurous outings in Hong Kong while her (now ex-) husband ran errands for his import business. “We used to catch the ferries and travel third class with all the livestock,” she says with a laugh, “because it was really interesting looking at all the animals!” Lewin recalls attending the 10 year commemoration in Hong Kong for the Tiananmen Square massacre. “It was a little bit scary… I think we were the only white people there – listening to something we didn’t understand – they could have been inciting riots!”

Now a full time history and English teacher at McCarthy Catholic College in Emu Plains, Levin is looking forward to pursuing her love of the written word once more. She notes with a satisfied smile that her son Sam, now 19, is “really enjoying life so it actually frees me up quite a bit.” Sam, taking a break from study, works in a hotel not far from home in Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains. “He’s just easy company in the house now – he’s grown up beautifully.”

Sitting on the floor with her arms around her knees, Lewin has the relaxed attitude of a teenager but the quiet confidence that comes with her years. She’s planning to attend the Bali writer’s festival later this year, remarking with glee, “Oh! I can do that now!”  But she’s not leaving Sam behind. Lewin offered to share her hotel room if Sam paid for his own flights to come along. “It was a very quick ‘yes’!” Lewin laughs, “We get along really well.”