Hi and welcome to my blog!
I’ve been meaning to start this for a while now. Procrastination is the enemy of anything creative, and writing in particular. As an introduction, my name is Dasha Maiorova. I’m a writer living in south Sydney. My name is Russian – I was born in Belarus back in the time when it was still the USSR, which is always fun to describe when filling in passport applications (not really – neither is the fun of trying to explain how to pronounce my surname). On a day like today I’m more aware than ever the distance between where I was born and the place I live in now. It’s predicted to reach 38 degrees Celsius today, and in Minsk the top temp is -4 degrees Celsius. There are far more differences than just the weather in these places, which might as well be whole worlds apart. I’m hoping to explore these in this blog, as well as the journey to what I hope will be publication.
In university I studied both Creative Writing and Visual Arts. It was at this time that I began writing a manuscript that I have come to call Birch. The first serious version of Birch came about in 2009, but really it does not resemble anything of the work it is now. At the time I was writing what I thought I wanted to write. It was a strange mix of a serial killer using antiquated torture implements to work through the family line of his polluted blood, and a young woman who was more a spirit than anything else. The story meandered across the globe, a semi-adventure tale tracking through India, parts of Africa (both places I had never been), and settling finally in Russia.
My journey in finding out who I was as a writer (and artist) in university made me realise my reticence in acknowledging the ‘Russian’ part of me. I’d grown up in Australia, my parents immigrating here when I was five years old. I’d experienced this weird “otherness”, like so many immigrant kids, this feeling of being different, this state of not belonging to one place or the other – and it is still something I encounter. In Russia, I am often considered a fortunate migrant, in Australia, I’m Australian – but not really. This has its pros and cons, and it is the fluid nature of identity that we all shape to our use. The learning of it takes time though.
So, following that early draft (which I was so proud of at the time – the longest and most thought-out form of writing I’d ever accomplished), I realised how lacking it was in something more meaningful. Around this time I went on a life-changing – and I don’t use that lightly – trip to Minsk and Saint Petersburg, the first time in my adult life. I reconnected with my family, and I found so much more. I promise this isn’t Eat Pray Love, so bear with me. Russia has a fraught, often fucked-up past. Perhaps every country does. But in those months of wandering the streets of Petersburg, I saw the details of the story I wanted to write. It was in the museum cats that sunned themselves on the terraces of the Winter Palace. It was in the statue of Pushkin, his cast out arm a perch for pigeons.
Like that early draft I’d written – which in my process I’d written on top of, a strange form of re-drafting – the new story, Birch also ends in Russia. It’s the eternal riddle of the way that the more you try to forget something, the more it clings to you.
So I hope you’ll enjoy this blog, I’ll write about writing, about Birch, and about the city of Petersburg that brought me here, and which is calling me back!