I have a serious head cold. (Aside: Serious headcolds are only serious for the sufferer and always a little bit hilarious to on-lookers). I had the man flu about a month ago and the cough stuck pretty much till this cold started, so I feel a bit hard done by at the moment. Especially since I got the flu jab (though I really just fancied half an hour off work and a lolly pop).
I went along to the first of the 'Next Page' sessions at Te Papa today. Four poets, three short story writers, one novelist, one memoirist and one Patrick (Patrick Fitzsimon's read from a piece called 'Patrick and the Men', which -- apart from stealing the show -- consisted of brief retellings of other Patricks and Patricios). Always interesting to hear what the next wave are working on and be there for one of their first forays into the public life of writing.
The things I will use my new computer for over the next six months, in order of time spent:
1. Finish Novel B
2. Watch the Sacramento Kings (gonna buy NBA league pass when season starts in October, so excited)
3. Manage my social media fifedom
4. Writing my fortnightly column for the Dominion Post (the income from which I used to justify buying a new computer)
5. Procrastinating from item 1 by writing brilliant short stories, poems and essays which actually help advance my career as a writer.
6. Typing 'Hahahahahahahahahahaha,' etc in response to overly optimistic goals.
Is it just me or are their very few characters in novels with head colds?
All Christchurch whanau are relatively unscathed after Saturday's earthquake. One cousin's house may need to be demolished. I'm playing a waiting game to hear whether the Christchurch Writers Festival is still on (opening night is supposed to be this Thursday; my session is scheduled for Friday morning). Not sure what'll happen with my flights if it's cancelled or postponed (Random House booked and paid for my travel). Would like to go down and see people regardless. Might be good fodder for a column. I'll certainly use that excuse while rubbernecking amid the rubble. I think I'll have to print my own Press Pass...
Things I do when I'm working seriously on a novel - #8 - Realise I've been in the shower for quite a while, but can't recall if I've used the body wash yet. Err on the side of being overly clean, go back to thinking about the scene I will write when I get home from work.
I just finished reading The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. I loved Then We Came To The End but had heard nothing about this book, which apparently came out in January, until I saw it on a library shelf. Reading the inside cover, I thought it may enter similar territory to the novel I'm working on (both have characters whose minds and bodies aren't always in agreement).
My thoughts are still percolating, but it struck me as the sort of novel Ferris might have written prior to Then We Came To The End, and revised it after his first published book was such a success. As the review from the Washington Post put it:
"Unfortunately, though, "The Unnamed" is almost as schizophrenic as its central character. The first third, which has such irresistible drive and coherency, gives way to a scattered, largely impressionistic narrative that darts and skips through scenes spread across many years. Alternately moving and redundant and unrelentingly sad, the story frustrates our expectations: What exactly is it -- a medical thriller, a domestic drama, a murder mystery, a survivalist tale, a metaphysical fable?"Pure speculation on my part, but The Unnamed is so inconsistent structurally (one of the difficult things to fix when returning to a 'completed' manuscript) and the writing so uneven that it feels like one of those paintings by Verrochio that would be long forgotten if it weren't for the cameo of a da Vinci angel.
Note to self: read Edgar Allan Poe's "The Man of the Crowd."
On Thursday M. and I went to a talk by Professor Richard Faull entitled, 'The Challenge of the Human Brain.' It was part of the Royal Society of NZ's Distinguished Speaker Series, and RSNZ need to be commended for the job they do putting science and scientists out there for hoi polloi like me.
Faull's speech was far more engaging than the one Martin Lord Rees gave to a packed Town Hall in March, and seemed to be enjoyed by everyone in the Soundings Theatre at Te Papa and the overflow watching on a live feed in the marae on level 4.
I came away with a better, but still cursory, understanding of the brain and the way diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's work. For the purposes of my research for Novel B I would have loved a discussion on brain trauma, but I'll just have to find the right neurologist for that discussion.
Woo-hoo! Just got an email from Chch Writers Fest:
"Following widespread consultation, the Board have decided to proceed with the Festival."Hopefully we invading writers aren't a strain on the city's infrastructure and we can help lift spirits with our own brands of escapism...
Question: What do you read to a crowd six days after a multi-billion dollar disaster rips through town?
Watch this space.