Saturday, November 14, 2009

An Interlude

It's amazing how consuming this 100-word story process is. It doesn't take that long to write the things, but I'm forever mulling over the story of my next Marumaru inhabitant. I'll probably talk about it more at the end of the month, but today I want to talk about the other things I have on the go.

[I feel pulled in several directions at the moment, and hope this post will clarify my priorities and shunt me
onwards. Details after the jump.]

Right, well, first thing is the proofs of A Man Melting. I've been through them (most of the changes I picked up were to do with screwy indents or missing line breaks, one or two typos or -ize instead of -ise's) and M's scoured the pages as well and picked up some good’ns ('onto' instead of 'on to', rogue the's and missing at's). One more pass this weekend before sending it back to Random House.

The timing works quite well as yesterday a manuscript arrived from the IIML up at Vic. I'm the 'external assessor' for someone's MA folio (a collection of short stories). I haven't read any of it yet and don't think it's fair to comment on it here even if I had. Should be an interesting experience.

With these reading/review projects, and the self-imposed task of writing a mini-story every day, progress on Novel B has slowed. (If it were a car, it'd be idling.) I'm still targeting the end of April for a finished first draft, but with all the junk, I mean joy, that Christmas and summer holidays throws up, I'm going to have to be more vigilant about working on it every day.

And I'm still on my NZ Fiction bender. Finished Charlotte Grimshaw's Singularity last week (I thought a couple of the stories were great, but some didn't work as standalone pieces; collection as a whole was not as satisfying as its precursor, Opportunity). Reading Maurice Gee's Plumb this week and should probably read the other two books in the trilogy next, but Emily Perkin's Novel About My Wife is atop my TBR pile (a system is only as good as your ability to follow its protocols, yadda yadda).

Extra-extra-curricularly, my early new year's resolution is to learn the names of things. I saw a pukeko in Christchurch last week, which is not unusual as there are plenty around Northwood, but it struck me that part of the joy of seeing this bird was knowing its name. Now, I’ve always known a pukeko was a pukeko, but I was able to see this bird afresh, as a foreign traveller might, and go, ‘huh, neat’. This must be an externality (economics nerd alert!) from all the safaris and nature walks I did overseas, and the reverence guides are paid. Whatever the case, I wanna be that guy who knows what the purple flowers are called that have sprouted on the hills around Wellington (google, you failed me).

The wheels are in motion. I've asked for field books to identify native plants for Christmas (double geek!). I'm going to go to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary one weekend soon (not this weekend: c'mon All Whites!); maybe I can find a botanical mentor. For my birthday in January a group of us are going to Kapiti Island...

And then of course there's the dreaded day job. No wonder I feel pressed for time.

But, you know what? I'm pretty darn happy. Not quite On Safari Happy, but still. I want to be doing all of the things I've listed above, even the day job (I drafted a blog on the benefits of a day job last week, then had a bad day and it's been shelved… pretty much: money plus specialist knowledge equals a worthwhile forty hours a week).

I'm loving living on the South Coast, reconnecting with old friends, being a local. I have my own office at home. There's beer in the fridge and another the weather will settle any day now. The Sacramento Kings are .500 for the first time in two seasons. Life is good.

Now back to my novel about dead babies and brain damage...

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