Sparks is with my super duper ace A+ beta reader and buddy, Heidi, to try and make some sense of all my mistakes. But, for all intents and purposes, it’s trunked at least while I write the first draft of NEXT BOOK, which is hereafter referred to as AFTER for a lack of anything else to call it.
I’m more excited about After than I can ever remember being about just about anything (possible exceptions: last episode of Buffy, the introduction of the jelly-tip trumpet). I’ve been struggling with the bones of this story for YEARS. YEARS! And now the eureka moment has happened and the walrus thinks the time has come. The train is leaving the station, the cat is among the pigeons, et cet. I’m struggling just to keep up with the explosion of ideas in my head.
My inner nerd is salivating and gallivanting at all the books on theology and mythology I’m consuming, even if my nosy tendency to over-google is leading me to learn FAR MORE THAN I EVER WANTED TO KNOW, esp. vis-a-vis tribal rituals and religious sacrifice. I know the POINT is to rise above the earthly concerns of body and pain and such, but PLEASE, ANCIENT GENTLEMEN, LEAVE YOUR BOY-BITS ALONE!
Okay. That’s all. As you were.
So I have a date on Saturday night. And then a wine and food festival on Sunday. And then next weekend I have a wedding in Christchurch (where I’m bound to be murdered, since Christchurch is now like the SIN CAPITAL OF NEW ZEALAND, deceptive rose gardens and tea shoppes aside). And then the next weekend is the Pearl Jam roadtrip, a week with my brother, my birthday. Xmas at home, back up to Northland for new year…
My brother is having an open second Christmas and new year thing — he and Hayley invited their whole Facebooks, and people are bringing tents and camping on his lawn and the beach in front of his house. Like a bazillion people are going, and he has ONE TOILET. Potential for hilarity: huge! Also, he went to ask the Christian camp next door if he could use their field to pitch tents, and they are having AN ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS SUMMIT! There will be ONE HUNDRED ALCOHOLICS camping next door to our WEEK LONG PARTY! Potential for hilarity: unquantifiable!!
… and then I’m meeting Kelly, Daniel and Kelly’s sister Lizzy in the Coromandel and we’re camping at Hot Water Beach for a few days. We’re going on a horse trek and kayaking in Cathedral Cove and DRINKING A BUTTLOAD OF BOOZE ON THE BEACH.
UNF UNF UNF UNF.
Also: next book is CHEWING AT MY MIND. Sparks is getting shut in a drawer in January while I write the first draft, and afterwards, once we’ve had a chance to chill out about each other, we’ll re-evaluate our relationship. But, even if I DO manage to fix all the things wrong with it, I don’t even think I’m going to query with it, since it’s not actually my style/genre, and I don’t WANT an agent expecting me to produce further versions of it. Why, then, did I write it, you may ask! To which I reply: GOOD QUESTION! Goodbye, a year’s work. I learned a lot from you, but you are ultimately not what I want to say to the world. It’s not you, it’s me.
Well, no, it’s you. But that’s my fault. I created you. But I have learned from your shabby tension and conflicted characters! I may or may not be able to make you what I meant you to be, but I love you for what you are.
So, I’ve dipped my toe into the online writing community. I’ve put this off for a long time, terrified of being ridiculed and jeered at and hounded off the interweb once the real writers found me out.
See, I don’t have an MFA in creative writing. I don’t even have an English degree. I did one creative writing course in my second year, got nothing out of it, and dropped out relatively promptly afterwards. I can’t recall ever being taught grammar at school. I learned from reading, from studying Latin and, when caught in my own sticky phrasing, from google. I’ve never published a short story in a literary journal, unless my school magazine counts. I don’t own a beret. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink whisky from a paper bag. I’m not a vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian or member of the squirrel family. I like my steak to gout blood when I slice it open. I don’t have existential pain or sobriety chips or legal problems or a shrink on retainer. I don’t live in Brooklyn. I don’t wear black skinny jeans. I’m not, in short, AN ARTIST.
I’ve realised, though, that existential crises are not words on page. And I DO have those. All those scary imaginary Brooklynites making me feel all inferior with their poetry and their battered classic paperbacks and their TINY LITTLE ARTIST BUTTS in their tiny little skinny jeans are not the people I’ve encountered. It turns out, writers are just, like, HUMANS. Normal folk with normal pants, who drink their beverages from a mug and wear headgear of a non-European origin. They just happen to love to read and love to write. And, more importantly, they DO write. They sit their reasonably-sized butts down and put words on a page. And then they stare at that page until they’re red-faced and near-blind, weeping tears of horror and inadequecy. And then they make the words better, and they make better words. They’re kinda just like me, in fact.
And, so far, they all seem really nice. Sorry, writers of the internet, for unfairly maligning you as a cruel pack of salad-nibbling hipsters! MY FACE, IT IS RED.