Monthly Archives of: January 2010

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SPOILER! Oooh-er!

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Scarlet’s first line of dialogue:

“We can exchange promise rings later. Take your pants off.”

I feel this may tell you all you need to know! And now: COFFEE. Revision needs to suck it.

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My secret identity.

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Writing does not (yet) pay my bills. I work at a hospital. Not in an awesome saving-lives-with-my-scalpel-before-I-take-them-with-my-pen kind of way—mostly, I make posters. Technically I’m a graphic designer, but that title implies a certain level of, like, ART.

This says some stuff about me. In my days of being educated (deliberately passive—I didn’t so much learn as have learning thrust upon me) I was objectively pretty good at the writing of essays and the remembering of formulas. Also objectively, even my stick figures sucked, and I was painfully, painfully shy.

Thus, to the eternal horror of my mother, I eschewed with a firm hand those things I could have done fairly well, for things in which I have no talent at all. The only way I could have a job less suited to my innate abilities would be by becoming a Broadway actor, but my location has so far precluded the urge. You may thank me at your leisure.

Sometimes, though, this causes me to worry that I write because a primary school teacher once told me a story of mine was “crappy trash”… even though, to be 100% honest—and this is something I never confessed to my parents, even though my brother and I both switched schools over it—the first half of the story in question was copied out of a book on writing. This probably should have made me feel better, since it wasn’t technically my work being insulted, but I was so outraged that a teacher would say that to a self-esteem challenged 12-year-old over anything, let alone a story plagiarised from a book on how to write good stories, that I rode the train as if it were my own—even when it turned out it went all the way to Private Girls’ School.

(Ladies and gentlemen: my karma! Dispensed swiftly and without mercy since 1982.)

This is not to say that I’m a terrible graphic designer. I can be worked into a convincing lather over white space and over-enthusiastic typography, and I’ve been known to spend entire days obsessing over line spacing. I worked hard to get good enough to have a job where, on the most basic level, I get paid to make stuff pretty. I still can’t draw, but that’s what Photoshop is for.

And it’s been good for me as a writer—partly because I have to be creative on cue, but mostly because it’s forced me to GET OVER MYSELF. The first time someone asked me for a poster by ‘sometime after lunch’, I almost wet my pants in horror. Finished? That people would look at? What if it wasn’t perfect? What if they judged me? What if it wasn’t my best possible work ever? I have issues with perfectionism. And letting go. (And phat with a PH, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Graphic design has taught me that there comes a point when you just have to put yourself out there. I’m still not very good at it, but I know that in order to get anywhere as a writer, you not only have to write something, but actually LET PEOPLE READ IT. Or, at least, you have to send out your beleaguered second draft and beg for feedback in order to improve it. If I wasn’t forced to put my creative nuts on the block daily at work, I think I’d still be paralysed by the thought of letting my characters and words out to mingle in the world, unfinished and imperfect as they are.

But! I am not! I have grown and matured as a person and as a writer! I am suave, and confident, and brazen in my ambition. In fact, I’m SO self-confident that I’ve added almost everyone I went to high school with on Facebook, just so they can see how awesome and well-adjusted I turned out…

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I cut this list down to 27 because I’m 27. Or because I’m lazy.

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1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

WROTE A NOVEL!

Horse trekking and sea kayaking! SKYDIVING! Enjoyed camping!

Spent a hundred dollars on a single meal. Made a hundred dollars last a month.

Baked bread. Made my own clothes. VISITED EUROPE! Spent four days alone in NYC. Drove across the country. Broke down across the country. Hired a web designer (stay tuned!). Lived with a stranger. [REDACTED].  Wrote and self-published a kids book.

Wow, look at all this STUFF! Who knew I was so PRODUCTIVE?!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions?

YES. Well, the ‘write a novel’ part anyway. Mostly. Like, 7/10ths of it. Shut up.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Kathryn, on Monday! Hi baby James! I haven’t met you yet, but I bet you’re pretty cool!

(I know Monday wasn’t 2009. Shut up. Again. Next year this list will be LONG.)

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

America. England. France. Thailand and Australia (for half an hour each. That counts, right?).

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

DISPOSABLE INCOME!

A finished novel. A draft of After. AN AGENT. A vege garden. A feeling for New Mexico. A clue.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Paris. Brooklyn. The day I finished the first draft of Sparks. The Coromandel. My birthday.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

SPARKS.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Oh man. Probably also Sparks. Or my total inability to cope with my finances.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I went gluten-free for a while to try and deal with my ridiculous digestive system, and instead developed an obstruction in my gut. It was perhaps the worst experience of my life. Lesson learned, pasta. Never again will we be parted.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Plane flights! Blue suede stilettos! A new laptop.

12. Where did most of your money go?

DEBT. Also, shoes.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

PEARL JAM!!!!!!!

14. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Oh My God, Whatever, Etc – Ryan Adams
Cold Desert – Kings of Leon
Vultures – John Mayer

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier. Or, maybe about the same, but more settled/confident/secure.

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, but not by as much as I would like.

c) richer or poorer? RICHER. This time last year I was a BUM, living off my parents and the system. Or I would have been, but the system was all difficult and required way too much paperwork. Stupid system.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercise. Playing. Maxing and relaxing. Shooting some b-ball outside of the school.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

WORRYING. LIST-WRITING. SECOND-GUESSING.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family, at home. Roasting a TRULY EXCELLENT turkey, if I do say so myself.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Supernatural, but Glee and How I Met Your Mother are both closing in. And Dexter. Dexter was AMAZING.

20. What was the best book you read?

The Name of the Wind. Peter Pan in Scarlet. MINE??! HA.

21. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Kings of Leon. I remain, as always, behind the times.

22. What was your favorite film of this year?

ZOMBIELAND! “Oh my God, this is so exciting! You’re about to find out who you’re gonna call.”

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 27, and I was staying with my brother and his partner in Whangarei. I went for a swim in the ocean outside their house in the morning, ate cake on the waterfront with them for lunch, had a massage and then another swim in the afternoon, and went out for wine and pizza after work. BLISS.

24. What’s the one thing that made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

The way people react to my waffling about After as opposed to my waffling about Sparks. Before I finished Sparks, most of the people I know were humouring me at best, and wishing I’d get my head out of my ass at worst. Now that I’ve written one novel and am starting another, they’re a lot more willing to take me seriously. Or they pretend to listen harder. Either way.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Lots of dresses and heels and gold accessories. I think this year is the first year I’ve really felt like I had a ‘style’, and been happy with most of what I wore. I bought a big floppy sunhat last week and Kelly G said to me ‘it’s VERY YOU’ – I was ridiculously pleased to discover that things could BE very me, and that other people would notice.

26. What kept you sane?

Pinot Gris, mostly.

27. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Ooooh-er! Alexander Skarsgard! Ian Somerhalder! Zac Efron! Sophia Bush! Cory Monteith!

PS: I stole this from The Spectrum, which I found when going through my the AWESOME PORTFOLIO of the very talented soul who is going to make this thing A FEAST FOR THE SENSES very, very soon. And then Kelly and I, over email, both wasted half the afternoon reading her truly entertaining blog posts. So you could do that too. If you wanted.

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Oh, New Zealand! Bless your cotton socks.

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Warwick Slow, 19, an employee at radio station X105, gained entry to a barbecue held for Prince William yesterday by vaulting a fence. He made it to the band and barbecue area, mingling with guests for several minutes before police noticed.

Slow said he had arrived with a packet of double-cheese sizzlers and bread at the main gate. After being turned away, he jumped the fence 50 metres down the road and walked up the driveway at Premier House to join guests who were being poured champagne.

“I talked to a few people and asked, ‘Where do I put the sizzlers and the bread?”‘

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Oh, Wellington. Right where I left you.

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First! My car. RUINS. MY. LIFE. The less said about it the better, but it did give me three extra days of holiday while mechanic number 8 (YES! EIGHT!) tinkered. It has now been declared fit but I will not be fooled again! No sir. It has proven itself a hateful liar and a cheat, and it is going to a new home and/or the bottom of a river at my earliest convenience. Take THAT, car. HAH.

Anyhoo. My boss is snoring, which means it’s after 3 at General Hospital. Good to know nothing much changes.

Since we last spoke, dear internet, I have been on many adventures. I have danced with the toothless locals at the Mount Mainia Cossie Club as I guzzled their $5 red bull and vodkas with someone’s Auntie Queenie — who was every bit of what you’d expect of someone from Whangarei called Auntie Queenie (aka AWESOME) — then watched the sun come up on 2010 with five boys spooning each other. Wandered the beaches of Paihia and Waipu and Tutukaka. Kayaked to Cathedral Cove and ridden badly behaved horses in the mountains. Drank feijoa liqueur in a tiny organic winery and ate fish and chips at our camp site. Swam every day. Failed to locate the Southern Cross because there’s so many stars that far out. Visited the oldest Kauri in New Zealand and stopped by Opononi for lollies. Watched a group of grown men get the meat sweats at Pizza Hut buffet. Got to know some truly great family (and some interesting goats) and discovered the wonder that is whisky and L&P. It has been, in short, everything a summer holiday should be.

And now, reality. SIIGH. WHO NEEDS IT. I’m back to my usual conundrums: how much can I sacrifice to write another book? How do I find a wealthy benefactor and a free estate in the country? How high can my heels get before I can’t walk to the coffee shop? How can I leave work in time to get me some of the new Marc Jacobs perfume?

I need a massage. And a white sand beach. And a Pimms and ginger ale.