Monday, February 27, 2017

Simmering tensions - Burns Fortnight #2

1. Consumption diary – January/February 2017 (part 1)

1.1 Music

Tomorrow (!) I'll post my 2016 music awards - only 2 months late. It's not as if they mean anything. And every day I'm discovering more great music that came out in 2016, so it's just one big exercise in arbitrary memory capture... But, tomorrow!

As for what I've been listening to these past two months, here's a link to my January Playlist (10 songs; 3 of which feature artists in tomorrow's awards).

And here's a bumper February playlist (33 songs) - see what happens when I write full-time?

1.2 - I'll cover books, film and TV is a separate post...

2. Them's a-countin' words

Total words this past fortnight: 8,101 words (short stories: 3k, novel: a sprinkling, others: 4k+)

This fortnight wasn’t as productive as I'd like because of its second week. I got sucked back into some Wellington nonsense. Hopefully it's settled now.

At the start of the fortnight I felt as if I might get the 1st draft of 3 stories completed by the end of Feb, but I'll end with one 1st draft, one half (and that probably needs a hatchet taken to it) and another fractional effort. I also wrote a poem!

3. The news (drip)feed

Maybe you know, but most likely you don’t: THE MANNEQUIN MAKERS will be published in the US. It’s coming out in September from Milkweed Editions, a full four years after the NZ and Australian versions. (Aside: I have no idea how the Romanian version has done, so don’t ask). The TMM page on Milkweed’s website went live recently here.

I really like the US cover. The blurb is a placeholder as certain authors read the book in the hopes of getting someone with US cachet to provide a blurb. There’s one writer in particular that I love (or at least, I love his work!) who is reading it, but the whole blurb economy isn’t something I want to get too tied up in thinking about.

As for the pages in between the covers, it’s so long since I was done with the edited manuscript I feel about it the same way I feel about my life before parenthood (my daughter is also 4). I would do many, many things differently – but that’s only natural. I am perhaps most pleased with the sweep of it. I may not have done everything the right way, or done justice to the chances I gave myself, but I wanted something chunky – both in terms of size (100,000+ words) and being composed of largish, relatively distinct sections. So chunky: check!

Just as THE MANNEQUIN MAKERS (historical, more intricate/plotted) was a reaction to A MAN MELTING (contemporary, off-the-cuff), I’m volleying my next book back across the net. THE LOCATION SCOUT (working title only) takes place in the contemporary world (though it has its historical preoccupations/anchors). It won’t, I don’t think, be “chunky”. It will still bear the traits of my thematic maximalism (of which my ten-year-old story ‘Copies’ is perhaps the most emblematic example), but it will be more focussed.

4. O-tago

Last week was Orientation Week here at Otago. Before then, I felt as if I was below Dunedin's median age. Now, I'm well above it.

I really liked the 'summer' Dunedin and I think I like the term-time Dunedin as well. They are both very different, but at heart they're the same. Like the original and acoustic versions of 'Layla'. (Not that any of the recent arrivals to town would get that simile. God, I feel so old.)

The weather the last two weeks has actually been summery and I've been riding my bike as much as I can and playing around with the panorama setting on my phone.

From near the Soldier's Monument, Highcliff Rd, Otago Peninsula

Spot my bike

St Kilda Beach
We went up to Christchurch for the weekend as my wife's extend family had an impromptu get together. It was easy to jump in the car and drive 4.5 hours up and back (it's easy when the kids sleep at least!) and it's always interesting driving up that way and passing places from THE MANNEQUIN MAKERS, or that inspired the fictional places.

So, one month in - how am I feeling about Dunedin and the Burns? Great. The only thing holding me back is myself.

Time to throw myself into THE LOCATION SCOUT. Got my Sharpies, got my index cards, got my Blu Tac. Time to plot this mother out!

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