Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Other Craigs / Daily Positive / Cigar Store Indians


Out of the blue yesterday I received this email, sent via my Google Profile:
I am a 62 y.o. Grandmother. I am sending you a note to tell you my Son's name is Craig Cliff. That doesn't seem like a common name. I will tell you that my son is an artist. He is older than you but I do notice similarities. We all agree that Craig [Redacted] Cliff can do anything. He is a musician and everyone says he can do everything. I'm a proud Mom and I bet your parents are very very proud of you. My Craig was born Sept. 5, 1973. Just had to communicate with you. Cheerio! [Redacted]

Not all Craigs are created equal

Okay something actually about me, or Status downgrade

I tempted fate, didn’t I? Almost as soon as I posted my wee status report on THE NOVEL last week, things slowed down. I take some solace in that it was not all self-inflicted. My landlords are having a new bathroom put in our flat, which means a lot of sawing gib board and banging pipes outside my office door during my writing days at home. I have headphones and I should be disciplined enough to work through such a distraction. But the biggest problem was they turned the water off to do their plumbing business so I couldn’t make a cup of tea or use the toilet, two crucial activities in my writing routine.

After battling through one unproductive day at home with the workmen, I decided to work the next day in a library. I chose to start the morning at Karori Library as it had free parking spaces nearby and opened half an hour earlier (9.30am) than the other libraries that day. I left the house before the bathroom men arrived (otherwise they’d block my car in with their vans) and this left me an hour and a half to explore before the library opened. What’d I do? Took photos of birds of course!

Pipit on Red Rocks Walkway
Dunnock (not a sparrow, note the narrower beak)
Oystercatchers, post coitus
(I have other pics, but I hope to keep this blog's G rating)
I got quite a bit of work done in the morning upstairs at Karori Library (no internet access for my old laptop is a blessing). After meeting Marisa in town for lunch, I tried Newtown library in the afternoon, but a lack of free parking or anywhere decent to set up my computer put the kibosh on writing there. Over the hill in Kilbirnie, however, I had more luck. Not quite as good a set up as Karori, but I did discover a great stash of NZ Memories magazines (great for research).

On Friday I tried Island Bay, but there was nowhere to set up, so I went back to Karori (with a birdy detour en route).

NZ Robin at the end of Holloway Road, Aro Valley
I spoke with the bathroom man today and it's going to be another week and half (3 weeks all up) before they're done.  Karori here I come!

Something for Craig's Mom

I came across New Zealand's page on Daily Positive the other day, and was surprised to find I rate a mention:
May 21:
Craig Cliff, short story and poetry writer from New Zealand, won the prestigious Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2011 in Overall Best First Book category for his book "A Man Melting". The winners of the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize were announced on 21 May 2011 at The Sydney Writers' Festival in Sydney.[5]
I'm the only entry for May 21. In fact, there are only 18 entries total for New Zealand. And what a weird collection of trivia I'm a part of. The rediscovery of part of the pink and white terraces (Feb 2) (but not their initial destruction). Helen Clark recieves a Champion of the Earth award from UNEP (April 22). First sheep introduced to New Zealand (May 20). NZ launches first commercially viable biofuel (Aug 1).

Of course, there are some (some) of NZ's big moments on the list: NZ women getting the vote (Nov 28), Ed Hilliary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit of Everest (May 29), Alan McDiarmid winning the Nobel Prize (Oct 10), the All Blacks winning the 1987 Rugby World Cup (June 20).

I'm not one to meddle with wikis, but those who are of such persuasion shouldn't have to look far to find other significant dates that have been overlooked.

(My birthday is 10 January!)

Got a spare $150 bucks?

The trouble with doing a lot of research for THE NOVEL is you're never done. There's always some other source you should have consulted, some other aspect you never got and had to fudge, some book you wanted badly but couldn't justify the costs (even if tax-deductible).

The Shipcarvers' Art: Figureheads and Cigar-Store Indians in Nineteenth-Century AmericaToday's book: The Shipcarvers' Art: Figureheads and Cigar-Store Indians in Nineteenth-Century America by Ralph Sessions. I can safely say this is the only book-length exploration of the link between ship carving and cigar store figures and it would yield very little in the way of my current novel, but I love books like this!

The Ministry of Magic

I’ve been sitting in a different building recently during my two days of paid work and a few people have come up to me in the kitchen to say, “I enjoy your column in the paper.” It’s nice to hear, but I wonder how much of this is down to the Ministry of Education connection? It must be interesting to have someone talking about the place you work (generally; remember this is a whole different building) in the midst of gardening tips, restaurant and book reviews and features about the dangers of sitting down (damn you Tom Fitzsimons, you’ve ruined my favourite pastime).

There are those at work who go beyond the “Love your work” comments and tell me what I should write about next. Most of it won’t fly for a wider audience, though I'm sure it would thrill the Ministry-heads about town (and probably lead to my swift exit from the workforce). However, I am gathering enough Things People Say I Should Write A Column About to write a column about the things people tell me to write about. Phew, I need a breather after that sentence.

Real writing is rewriting, or Recent brainfarts detect while revising 
  • 'Right on queue'
  • 'Moving sheik' (instead of 'moving chic')
  • 'Phased' for 'fazed'
Of course, some brainfarts can be useful. Last week I misread the headline of a magazine article as 'Eeling for Daylight' when it actually said, 'Feeling for Daylight'... The image of trying to capture an elusive strand of daylight may just be something I can use one day.

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