Category Archives: Dilly Bag

Dilly Bag #1 – Declutter, Discover, Create – Dilly it Your Way, Because You Matter


Welcome to your virtual Dilly Bag

What’s a Dilly Bag, I hear you ask?  Good question.  The original Dilly Bag is a small or medium sized bag or basket used by indigenous Australians to carry food, tools or artefacts, or other items of personal value.  Or all of the above.  (Check our the Dilly Bag page under Regular Columns for a fuller description, and pictures).

In other words, the Dilly Bag is a carryall for useful, often indispensible stuff.  Think about what’s in your backpack, handbag, satchel, tote.  Useful things, things you love, comforting things, handy spare change.

So, why exactly do you need The Memoir Detective’s virtual Dilly Bag?  Because when you have your own Dilly, real or virtual, you decide what goes in and what stays out, what inspires and what provokes.  Who knows what may transpire when you have a Dilly friend to rely on?

The Memoir Detective’s virtual Dilly Bag is an ever-changing collection of inspiration, provocation, and demonstrations to encourage your memoir detective to come out and play.

Most of all, the MD’s vDB is for you, to help you declutter, discover, and createTake whatever you like from it and put it in your own Dilly.  Over time, you’ll accumulate a handy resource that takes up very little room but which may be a gentle catalyst for the changes you want to make in your life.

So, what’s in Dilly Bag Number One?

Today, a nano memoir, the meaning of life, and a novel beginning.


  • A sentence a day keeps the madness away, and the memoir a-okay, so why not sentence yourself to a nano memoir, right now?  What’s a nano memoir?  It’s one word that means something very specific and clear to you.  It may remind you of an event, or a person you love (or dare I say it, don’t love), an object, or a place.  It may even provoke something less concrete but still specific and clear: a set of thoughts around an idea, for instance, embodied in a word.
  • Whatever it is, it’s something that you’ll never forget, something you can write an entire story around – with the help of one important word.
  • Are there special words that have accompanied you through your life?  Is there a word that’s coming into your mind now?


  • One of my lifelong words is cumquat – you heard me, cumquat.  The humble cumquat will forever and instantly take me to my grandmother’s house and yard where she grew cumquat trees, from which she plucked the juiciest, tartest fruit to make us jars of cumquat jam (rather than apple, or choko, strangely enough), which we took home to slather on our toast and scones (and eat by the spoonful when no-one was watching).
  • I’ll be writing more about the nano memoir in future posts.


… may have been captured in a remark by the fabulous actor, Cary Grant (1904-1986), when he explained: My formula for living is quite simple.  I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night.  In between I occupy myself as best I can.

  • Today’s the day to occupy yourself as best you can: practically, truthfully, creatively (if you’re a shift-worker, of course, you’ll be doing all of this in reverse – keep a torch handy!).
  • Declutter a drawer somewhere in your house – it’ll only take a minute, and even if it’s several, I guarantee you’ll feel better – small investment, big return – SPACE.
  • Tell yourself, in the privacy of your own mind, a simple truth that applies to you: you’re kind, you never forget to pat your pets when you see them; you belong to the universe and you always will.
  • Write a line of prose, or poetry, or several – it’s up to you.  Create a moment now – check out Veranda Life if you’re after some inspiration.  I get most of my creative now moments for Veranda Life’s 999 Verandakus when I’m out walking.


In the waters of these islands, there is a certain fish whose eyes, like the eyes of the chameleon, are able to look in opposite directions at the same time.  This is the opening sentence of Beachmasters, a novel by award-winning author, Thea Astley, one of Australia’s and the world’s finest writers.

  • Personally, I prefer my human, binocular vision, but I’m sure you know people who approximate that fish in the way they see life – multiple focal points.  They can be invaluable on occasion, but equally invaluable is the ability to focus on one thing at a time and see it through.
  • Today, say Multi-tasking, schmulti-tasking – for half an hour, I’m a one bit wonder: one thing, and one thing only. 
  • What might it be for you, sweet one bit wonder? 
  • Meditation?  Mindful walking?  Focussed reading of one, and only one text?

It’s all up to you – so don’t forget to Dilly it Your Way, Because You Matter.

Remember: Memoir = Life = Now