I think every writer knows this moment, when the novel you’ve been wrestling with suddenly turns and rolls over, like a dog baring its submissive belly and says, “Yes, okay, you win. The way is clear. Go on, now.”
Ahh, I do like this.
Of course, I suspect most writers also know the moment that can follow – when the dog, having given you your brief belly-rubbing moment, leaps up and locks your wrist in a death-grip, and the dance begins again.
But that’s another story altogether (hopefully).
For now, back to work, with guarded optimism.
* WIP = Work In Progress
So I’ve finished the marking and the copyediting and the translating and the accounting and most of the extension planning (take that, grout colours!) and some of the other random bits and pieces that were clamouring for my fickle attentions. And I’ve cleaned my desk. Not completely, but the thing is, despite my many friends who emailed me to say “Call that a mess? This is a mess!” it was never really about the mess anyway. It was about the fact that there were just too many different things in there, too many disconnected and sometimes competing demands on my time and increasingly limited brainpower. I can take the mess, as long as it’s not pulling me in too many directions at once.
But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is this:
In partially cleaning my desk, I found the leaf – whole and flat and entirely unbroken despite the chaos of its surrounds. That has to be a symbol of something, surely?
It’s the return of the writing desk and it’s just in time for the school holidays, of course, but that’s okay. It seems to be how things work around here, but when there are novels brewing, they will make their way into the light, school holidays or no.
There is other news on the horizon too, which is the current source of both excitement and blind panic. But I can’t tell you about that, not quite yet.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? This one, sadly, is worth very few, at least not the kind of words I’d like to be generating. Incredibly, the photo has the effect, at least to me, of making the desk appear less chaotic than it is in real life. The piles look smaller some how, and less likely to topple and swamp all in their path.
If you knew what you were looking at here, you would be able to recognise:
* Pile #1: the marking pile from hell. This pile has curious magic pudding-like qualities, something I would applaud in any other context
* the slanty writing board which makes working my way through Pile #1 marginally less painful (at least physically).
* Pile #2: the copyediting job from hell, “almost finished” for about five weeks now.
* a Japanese-English dictionary I’m using in some ongoing translation work (from 地獄). There should be a pile for this job, too, and its absence is worrying…
It’s Kerang, really, but if you live here, you don’t need all those pesky vowels. And I do live here, at least for now. I’m here for a few weeks, on a kind of writing retreat, for some much-needed head-space and novel-writing time, as well as visiting a few schools and some other random bits and pieces.
Yesterday, I spent some time at Kerang Primary, just down the road from where I’m staying. It’s one of those gorgeous old country schools, not unlike the school I went to when I was growing up in Eaglehawk, near Bendigo (I’ll be visiting Eaglehawk North in a few days, which I’m very happy about), so in a weird way, it feels like home. I talked about reading and writing and about some of my books (my favourite boys, Nathan, Ronnie and Weasel featured heavily in the discussions). I also talked about where stories come from and some ways in which you can turn your writer eyes on to see the ideas that are lurking all around you.
Ahh! A glorious long weekend of writing, chatting, bikeriding and occasional dancing. Stats below:
Average Temperature: 23
Drops of Rain: 0
Words Written: Plenty. Beyond that, I can’t say, as I resolved not to take my laptop, which turned out to be a very good decision.
Novels Planned: 2
Kilometres Cycled: 67
Quokkas Sighted: 29
Speed at which I want to turn around and go right back again: Lightning
Thankfully, we are already calling it the ‘first annual’ retreat, so perhaps I only have twelve months to wait before we can do it all again.
Made a simple structural change to Izzie which has put things back on track quite nicely. I’m still aiming to have the first draft completed by the end of September, as per my original plan for the ArtsWA Grant period. This will require some speedy writing over the next few weeks, but I can probably make it if I stay focused.
Meanwhile, Annabel has been turning up in some interesting places. She has been added to the booklist for the Victorian Premiers Reading Challenge and is featured in the latest Scholastic Bookclub catalogue. Scholastic tells us that Annabel is for ‘confident’ readers. I’d like to think she is also for thoughtful, quirky and all-round cool readers, but maybe that’s just me projecting.
Thanks to the fabulous ArtsWA who have just approved my application for a grant. This will enable me to scale back my other work for a while and focus on my next novel. It’s a marvellous luxury to have some dedicated writing time; now I just have to discipline myself to get this book written with a minimum of fuss. This one is also a novel for girls, and my working title is The Not-so-secret Life of Izzie, Known as Bella. It’s early days yet and I’m still trying to find the right shape for the story, but we’ll see what happens.