Monthly Archives of: October 2011


ARGH. Also, lack of bears.


Like everyone I’ve ever met has told me every day of my life, I need to learn to let go. And yet, the more I look at my own writing, the more I hate it. Finding this scene has been an unbearably depressing process, so you can all SUCK IT! But after you’ve read it, so I didn’t suffer for nothing.

Except don’t read it, because I’ve now been staring at it for several days, and every single word makes me want to dramatically slit my wrists in a bathtub while listening to Dashboard Confessional.

(You can tell I’m about to turn 29 because all my references are now dated. Crap.)

Also, I’ve never once looked at a single scene in isolation, even by a best-selling published author, and thought, “wow, that’s amazing”. I’ve thought, “I have no idea who these people are” and “I don’t know why they’re doing this”, and then I’ve gone to get a snack and resumed waiting for my Twitter timeline to update.

Nevertheless, several people helped me pick this one, and I’m now at the point where attempting to edit out all the bad bits just involves taking out all the WORDS, so. Here’s a scene from Sparks, aka Failed First Novel of Doom. 

(FFNoD is complete but not finished, which means all the words exist and they make a story, but both the story and the words aren’t any good. It’s a YA, first-person contemporary mystery — the genre I was shooting for was kind of like teen pulp noir. After, for the record, is none of these things.)


“We’re going to get eaten by a fuckin’ bear.”
“We’re not going to get eaten by a bear. There are no bears here.”
“Have you been out here and fucking checked?”
            “Shut up.”
Everything hurt. My knees felt like they’d been emptied out and filled with gravel. My hand was burning. My wrist ached, my ribs pinched and smarted with stitch, and I’d bitten my tongue at some point. Snot was running out of my frozen nose, and I didn’t have the strength to wipe it up.
Nate was bleeding from one eyebrow and favoring his left ankle. In front of me, he shoved a branch aside, and I couldn’t get my hands to cooperate in time to stop it from springing back to whip me in the chest. It was taking every tiny scrap of energy I had just to keep picking each foot up and putting it down again.
“Fuck it,” Nate said, and stopped.
I was concentrating on getting my right foot to move forwards while my left knee continued to hold my weight, and walked straight into the back of him. He stumbled forward a step and sat down. Just folded up like he was hinged and slumped into the mud.
The forest stretched and heaved and dripped around us. I didn’t think I had the strength to sit. It seemed like less effort to stay upright, clinging to the slimy, scratchy surface of a tree trunk. 
“We didn’t look in the garage.”
“We could—”
Sparks.” Nate was a black smudge on the forest floor. “We need another way.”
I pushed my cheek against the rough bark of the tree. “I don’t have another way.”
“Bullshit. You’re like a dog with a bone—”
A bull with a sore head, my dad supplied in my head.
“—you have another move.”
I laughed and the tree swallowed it up. My tongue hurt. “I’ve got nothing. This was my big play. This was my whole plan.”
Nate was silent for what felt like hours. I saw his head knock back against the tree he was propped against. The trees dripped. Thunder growled from somewhere behind us—maybe past the Cove and rolling out to sea now, on its way to beach again in the real world. “Your forward planning sucks,” he observed, detached.
I wiped my nose with the sleeve of my sweater. I’d left Adam’s coat over the broken window at Mitchell’s. It probably had his name sewn into it. “Why are you here?”
“Because this is how I like to party.”
“No, really.” I found an exposed chunk of root and tried to get my creaky knees to bend. My jeans, sandpaper-stiff, pulled at my skin like a cheese grater. I didn’t think I’d ever been so cold. “What did you see on that calendar tonight?”
“Mitchell,” Nate said, but not in answer to my question. “That cocksucker.”
“You know what I don’t get? Selling that tape exposed that room to the whole island. Not the smartest move if you’re…”
“Knee deep in shit already?”
I nodded. “Did his hatred of me just overcome his sense of self-preservation? He was so carefulwith everything else.”
I saw the shadows of Nate’s hands, pale ghosts against his dirty face. “My brain hurts,” he said, muffled.
My teeth clacked and shuddered as they chattered. My hands and feet had gone from tingly to searing to totally numb—I could feel the dead weight of my second through last toes like my shoes were stuffed with rocks. Nate shuffled, and the solid weight of his wet coat landed on my knee. It was soaked and stiff with cold, but it was heavy and the damp lining was warm from his body. “Thanks.”
Somewhere down the hill, a branch cracked. We both tensed, waiting. The rain was easing up. In the gaps between gusts of wind, I could hear Nate’s teeth chattering, the rustle and whisper of his clothes as he shivered.
“You know,” Nate said finally, “he’s my stepfather. I know he’s a bastard. I thought you just wanted it to be Mitchell because he shot your dad. Because it’s easier if there’s someone in front of you to blame.” I couldn’t tell for sure if he was looking at me, but I could feel it in the dark. It felt like an admission.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “It hurts.”
I heard him sigh. “I do get that he was your dad, you know. You’re trying to protect his memory.”
I hunched into Nate’s jacket, wondering if this was an apology. “That makes it sound noble. Dash said I was being selfish.”
Nate said, “You loved him.”
Love is selfish.”

Next up: a scene from Sparks. Not even lying.

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Another gap. Sigh. I am a useless blogger and should be punished. Not in a creepy way. A nice way, like with extra dessert and thoughtful presents. Like how I punish my cat with cuddles.

I’ve left this one because it’s a hard one to write. A few weeks ago, my grandfather died. He had emphysema from years of smoking while away at sea, and he gradually lost the ability to exercise, get around, breathe.

Like the grandfather who died last year, his name was Doug. But I didn’t grow up with this Doug. He was my birth father’s father, and I didn’t know him until I was 16. And then I didn’t talk to him again until I was 24. And then 26. It’s only in the last couple of years that we really got to know each other or spend any time together, so I’m not filled with childhood memories of him. We didn’t even know each other that well, really.

Here’s what I do know: he was a really, really nice man. He was funny, with a great laugh and a sharp wit. He was tall and lean and had the darkest eyes . My brother said he reminded him of me, and I felt like that was a pretty big compliment. He seemed, to me, kind and gentle-natured, and a bit of a ham. He was great with my little cousins, and always so nice and so interested in my life, without ever being pushy about how long it took me to really get to know them.

He was the person who finally fixed my car for me when I broke down (for the thousandth time) in the Coromandel a couple summers ago, and drove all the way to Kamo without coming to a complete stop. He and my grandmother happily gave me a bed for a week while we waited for parts, and Doug and my uncle were in under the hood and consulting with mechanics in minutes. I should thank my car for those extra days of drinking whiskey and L&P and hanging out with the goats, but my car is evil and should never be praised.

I wish I’d known him sooner, but I’m glad I got to spend the time I did with him. If I’m anything like him, I’ll consider myself lucky.

That’s all.


Next Friday Brock and I are heading off on a roadtrip tour of the South Island. I’ve never been past Christchurch, so I’m very excited. And then I get back just in time to fly away to TONGA for a week. And then it’s my birthday. And then it’s Christmas.

Summer is coming. Life is good.



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The other night, my flatmate was telling me about the time he had a colonic, and his body divested itself of a whole and intact red crayon

“Wow,” I said. “That had been there since you were a kid?”

He thought about this for a minute. “Maybe. Who can tell?”


This is the same night the dog ate a bowl of jalapeno corn chips for dinner.


It is a sad truth that when life is busy and exciting enough to blog about, it’s too busy and exciting to blog. Back soon, internet buds. Back soon.