Sunday, October 21, 2012

Everyone's got their breaking point / with me it's spiders, with you it's me

Are we judged here by the words we say / or is it just by the noises we make?

The truth is not kind / and you said neither am I

Since I submitted the manuscript of THE NOVEL (a.k.a. The Mannequin Makers, for now) on 31 August, I've fallen to bits.

I'm taking steps but it all feels a bit of a rear-guard action.

I've gotten glasses for my myopia. I've had malevolent skin cells (Bowen's disease, actinic keratosis) liquid nitrogened to oblivion. I got a root canal to hopefully put pay to the toothaches I've been having. And last week I was told my cholesterol was shockingly high for a 29 year old (especially shocking as my diet ain't that bad and I'm not that overweight), so I'm exercising more, buying expensive margarine and trying a shot of apple cider vinegar in the mornings (my step-father's prescription).

We shall see.

Next time I'm encouraged to write a novel, I'm going to ask for danger pay.

I do the rolling / you do the detail

Re: The Mannequin Makers, I met up with my editor and Random House last week while she was down in Wellington. Over coffee (actually, over green tea and a chai latte) we discussed the comments she'd sent me the week before.

The email read: "I have now finished reading this and really enjoyed it. It’s definitely different, quirky and memorable... [some specifics]... There are, though, a few things I think need a bit more thought... [10 substantive comments and 1,500 words later]... I hope these don't depress you..."

One the one hand: Ugh, more work. But I agreed with 80-90% of the comments, and they've provided the impetus to improve the novel. Being given the direction and time to make the darn thing better sure beats being told, 'It'll do,' and it being rushed to market and met with a round of shrugs (a Meh-ixan wave, perhaps? no, forget I said that).

I have until 1 December to snip the sutures and massage the organs of the novel so that it's more vexing aspects (the confusing ones at least, it'll still be vexing in several spots, but deliberately so). Then the manuscript with be given to an external editor with a fresh set of eyes and a fine-tooth comb. 

I'm excited to have the ball back in my court for the next six weeks. The path to publication seems a little clearer now, a little less fraught.

By the end of it, I'll have no idea how the real world (or at least those in the bookish segment of the real world) will respond, but I should be happy to stand up and take the rotten fruit, the shrugs and the backslaps, knowing the book is the best approximation of the book I set out to write that I can manage at this point in my career.

I remember running through the wet grass / falling a step behind

I'm heading up to Palmerston North on Thursday for the launch of the city council's Creative Giants website. I have a page. So do Janet Frame, John Clarke and Shane Cotton. Pretty cool company to keep.

In between imbibing free Cab Sav and trying to catch the eye of the canape waiter on Thursday, I'll have a word with the people behind the website about the omission of David Geary and Sarah Laing. Let me know if there are other Palmerstonians (permanent or fleeting) who are sufficiently creative and gigantic and I'll spruik them too!

We came through / like gothic monsters perched on Notre Dame

Of course all of this - the body's revolt, the editing process - is a lot of background noise compared to the biggest thing happening to me this year. I'm set to become a father some time in the next two months. 

It's funny, because I've used this point in character's lives before (once in a published short story ['Copies'], once in an abandoned novel) and now I'm here. The loss of my father in my teens means I will always be interested in the way fatherhood works, as a child and a parent. Now I'm about to step through that shimmering waterfall, that glitchy Stargate, and enter the world of parenthood.

How fucking exciting. How fucking scary.

(Best I get all the swearing out of my system before there's a minor on the premises.)

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