Monday, September 13, 2010

Struggling writer blues, or Worksheet #39

I’m back from Christchurch. I’d post my photos of the carnage but you’ve already seen the buildings online, in print or on tele.

Seriously, I was surprised how few and far between the total write-offs were. Far less than the coverage might lead a North Islander to believe.

There’s a reason Simon Dallow was standing in front of the same demolition site each night.


I’m not loving my new keyboard.

It has little plastic nodules on the F and J keys, presumably to help me orientate my fingers without having to look down. But I can touch type just fine without these nodules. And what’s wrong with a wee peek every now and then?

But now the tip of my left index finger is especially sore (no surprise that I hit the F key more than the J).
It seems nine months of guitar lessons fifteen years ago weren’t enough to harden up my fingers.
If I’m not careful I might develop an averse to F words...

Time to use the only tool I have sharpened in the intervening years to fashion a solution.


My first column appeared in the Your Weekend magazine in Saturday’s Dominion Post.

It was difficult to find a copy in Chch on Saturday for all the stacks of special Earthquake editions of the weekend The Press (to go with the collector’s edition on Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs and Fri, not to mention the $5 charity issue of the Star).

But I got one in the end.

And joy of joys when I turned to the back page (the section titled, ahem, “Craig Cliff”) the photo they choose is not half bad. Phew.

They did change “Ministry of Education” to “Education Ministry” in my first sentence, which annoys me immensely for some reason. Probably the fact it’s called the Ministry of Education. No one says Education Ministry. It sounds like some high and mighty evangelical church.

At least I’m paid by the column and not by the word, otherwise I’d me doubly miffed by the missing “of”.


Plan A: swap F and J keys with those on my brother’s computer.


Most of the liquefaction in Chch has been cleaned up, the serious urban road disturbances paved over, and the teetering chimneys gently dismantled. The structural damage to houses and the lasting psychological effects are much harder to discern from the roadside.


Legend of a SuicideI finished David Vann’s Legend of a Suicide today. Twas fantastic. Hard to classify, but its essentially three short stories, followed by a novella in two parts, and two more short stories to close out the book. Wasn’t so taken with the final two stories, but was gripped by the rest.

Similarities to my short story, ‘Copies’. Not just the stories, but the relationship between author, autobiography and fiction.

Vann’s back in NZ later in the year to teach a short fiction course at the IIML. Would be great if our paths crossed and we got to have a chat...


Plan B: melt the nodules.


One more piece of miffage regarding my first column. The by-line, which I didn’t write:

“By day he’s a civil servant, by night a struggling author. Craig Cliff introduces the two sides of his double life”
Struggling author? I prefer the term ‘talented new author’ ( or ‘aspiring young New Zealand writer’ (Nelson Mail). Heck, even Owen Marshall’s somewhat confusing ‘absurdly youthful’.

It’s true, I may have a ways to go before I dine with the Prime Minister, but I thought I was doing okay to this point.


“Memories are infinitely richer than their origins.”
-David Vann


I only felt three aftershocks in my first 18 hours in Chch, and nothing in the next 48.

Despite this, I had Carole King’s ‘I feel the earth move’ stuck in my head for six hours. AC/DC’s ‘You shook me all night long’ for two hours, and Elvis’s ‘All Shook Up’ for about 20 minutes.

#inappropriate earworms.


Plan C: Admit defeat and buy a new keyboard.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I enjoyed this immensely. That is all.