Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Through the embers: Fortnight 1 of the Burns


I wrote 4,266 words over 7 writing days (week one started on a Wednesday; week two started on a Tuesday due to family being down for Waitangi weekend). All of my efforts were spent on two short stories: the bio story I mentioned in my previous post and another story, which I selected from the master list of things to write that I compiled. Let's call this story 'Robinson'.

Both stories are progressing, but I wonder if they aren’t too similar. I might have to write a third story (less arch, less ‘laugh at him, now comfort him’) this month to bring a bit more balance to my output and exorcise one more set of ghosts before I dive back into THE LOCATION SCOUT.



I will tire of fire-related puns soon enough.

3. This is where it all happens

Parting shot from last year's fellow
(possibly how I contracted this punning disorder)

My desk, my Mac, my mess

The gravity-forced attrition method of choosing which story to write next.
Helps when you have off-brand Post-its.
My magnolia

At first I thought it was a bible, but it's The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns.
Thanks Victor!
My morning ride

It's always like this...
Except when it's like this (hail from yesterday's weather bomb)

It's official. Come & visit!


One consequence of all this newfound writing time is I need to spend more time finding new (or remembered) music to add to my ‘Working’ playlist. Which is not a chore at all. 

If given the option of not being able to read any more, and not being able to listen to music, I'd choose not reading. Not happily, or lightly, but I would.

5. Further exploits in procrastination

I found myself searching online for a coffee mug. I considered personalising one to commemorate my year in Otago. Like, a picture of Mr Burns from the Simpsons with the caption: ‘Burns Fellow’... something so lame and obvious that I managed to snap myself out of it. 

So I’m still using the dinky little Arcoroc cup I found in the dinky little kitchenette and having to make too many trips to make tea during my day and maybe I will end up ordering something in another moment of weakness.

6. You can never step on the same wildlife cruise twice.

Over the long weekend, I took my wife, kids and in-laws on the Monarch Wildlife Cruise, which goes out round Harrington Point at the end of the Otago Peninsula. 

We saw fur seals,a seal lion eating a squid, nesting shags endemic to Otago, Bullers albatross, Southern Royals, a couple other mollymawk species, nellies, terns. No spoonbills or Hectors dolphins like my first trip five years ago. Still a good haul, but nowhere near as much fun as the first time for all manner of reasons.

Giant petrel taking off

Sea lion with black-backed gull

White capped albatross
Compare and contrast with our trip to Tunnel Beach at the end of Jan. No bird or marine mammal sightings of note. When we got down to the beach it was high tide so there was no sand to stand on. My son decided he didn’t like being carried on the way back up, nor did he feel like walking. For the last 500 metres (which is at a 15 degree gradient) I carried him like an inconsolable lamb.

And that trip was fricken great. The kind of day one should be careful not to sully by rushing back again too quickly.

Everyone enjoyed it, honest

7. Research highlight

An article by Catrien Santing on Pope Benedict XIV, who is often held up as a supporter of the enlightenment, but also canonised a bunch of folks who did some science-defying stuff, including my boy San Giuseppe da Copertino.

The article was titled ‘Tirami su’.

I never really thought about whether the name of the dish meant anything (maybe it was a place, or a person), but when I translated it (Pick me up / Lift me up / Raise me up) the phrase made sense for a coffee-soaked dessert and an article about a levitating friar.

Pity I can’t stand coffee, and gag at the sight, smell, mention of tiramisu.


8.1 - I went to an open lecture on Brexit, Trump and the rise of populism. It was interesting. I'm still trying to figure out how contemporary I make THE LOCATION SCOUT. Like, is it Feb 2017 and two non-Italians are driving around Italy talking about the Muslim ban and the precariousness of the Euro? 

Open lecture

8.2 - I was on a panel with two other writers about the writing process here at the university. It was mostly about how we find the time to write. I've tried a lot of different things, working around different work and family situations.

My current situation, I have to say, is pretty sweet.

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