All Posts Filed in ‘my car is ruining my life

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Emily and I are pretending we might go somewhere other than Sweet Mother’s for dinner tonight. Which is cute of us, but ultimately pointless.

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I have a secret, internet. I have been avoiding you. I wouldn’t cross the street if I saw you coming or anything, but I might have been letting your calls go to voicemail. The truth is there’s only one way to say this, so here it is:

MY CAR. BROKE DOWN. THE DAY. AFTER I TOLD YOU. IT WAS FIXED.

And it was! Because what I have now is an entirely NEW problem! An expensive and complicated one that has rendered my car entirely useless until I find a money tree or some magic beans.

LESS THAN 24 HOURS LATER. SERIOUSLY.

This is what I get for telling life to suck it. Okay, universe. You win.

—–

I have another secret: I haven’t written anything in a week and a half. This is out of control ridiculous — I haven’t had a week and a half away from a novel in almost two years. It feels weird. It’s itching at me like a phantom limb, and I feel simultaneously guilty and like I’m getting away with something. Like I’m playing hooky from myself.

But man, I need this break.

After is a strange experience for me. It’s ambitious — I’m constantly terrified it’s too ambitious. It’s big and weird and, maybe most importantly, it’s my BIG IDEA.

It’s that idea that’s rattles around in the back of your head for years. The one that pokes at you when you’re trying to sleep. The one you think of when you see a movie you like; that has a soundtrack and a mood and its dust on your boots. The one with the characters you’re too invested in and the world you sometimes dream in. The one that words will never be enough for.

And right now, I hate it. It still doesn’t feel right. The characters don’t talk right. Nothing is happening the way I want it to, because nothing CAN happen the way I want it to. This idea has been around for five years, in one form or another, and it’s taken those five years to sneak up on it and pin it down and wrestle it into a story. And now I have to wrestle that story into clauses and constructions and paragraphs and chapters? That’s scary.

That’s FUCKING TERRIFYING.

The thought that I don’t have the skill to do this, that I’m not good enough or experienced enough to do this — that thought has been pretty much constant lately. And that thought makes me want to vomit. And then die. And then vomit again. Looking at my own words has been making me cold sweat. I know enough to know that I have permission to suck in this first draft, these first chapters. I know that every author is only doing their best to limit how much they fuck up their story in transcription. I know that.

And yet.

So I’m taking a break. At a certain point, it seems like all you can do is back off. Leave your characters to their own devices and live your life, and wait to see if you miss them.

And right now, today, I do.

I’m glad. And relieved. And a little nauseous.

I want to know what they’ve been doing without me; how they’re feeling about the shitstorm we’ve been through. I want to know if I can leave these first 10,000 words THE FUCK ALONE and move on, since I’ve now written them four or five times. I have to trust that as we get deeper, as their voices get clearer, I’ll suck less. And when I get to the end, when all the bones of this thing exist in a tangible way, THEN I can make it good.

—–

Sometimes, in weeks like this, I wonder seriously if I’m going to quit. If I’m one of the people who isn’t cut out for this — who doesn’t have the drive or the stones to see it through. Sometimes that seems like it would be a relief.

But… I don’t write by choice. It’s a choice to stay disciplined, to focus on achieving something, but there are words inside me all the time, bubbling up, stringing themselves together. The only option I really have is how I use them. I haven’t worked on After in over a week, but I’ve still written. It feels like purging to me, like emptying out. I blog, I journal, I email like it’s a competitive sport. I narrate EVERYTHING. I have a sneaking suspicion that words are the only way I can process the world.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s not just that I want this. I LOVE this. I AM this.

And if my biggest problem is that I love this story so much I’m actually scared to write it, then I’m probably not doing so badly.

—–

Things may be quiet this month — I’m heading away this weekend, and things are crazy busy at work for the next few weeks. But even if we do not talk, internet, please know that I am THINKING OF YOU ALWAYS. And I like you very much.

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Further adventures in sensible living.

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So, my car has oil. As usual, I took the longest and most complicated route possible in achieving this. I ignored the situation for as long as I could. I went to get gas, couldn’t bring myself to prostate myself in front of a forecourt attendant and ask for help, and just caught the train to work for a couple of days. Finally, Kelly and I went and booked me a service, because that seemed like the easiest way out of the whole debacle. As I learned in private school: when in doubt, throw money. (NB: This, on the whole, has not served me well.)

Yesterday, I got a call from my best friend’s husband. I had been avoiding him, because he is constantly called upon to fix my life for me, and I worry that he gets slightly tired of having a second wife who steals his chips and doesn’t put out.

“Katie,” he said to me, “you are a fool.”

This is true.

“Your car isn’t going to explode in the next ten minutes,” he explained in the weary tone of someone who’s tired of having his chips stolen. (Apparently this is why it’s called a warning light!) “And you’re not paying for a service to avoid opening a cap and pouring in some liquid.”

Secretly I was relieved, since I am currently overdrawn in all my accounts, and had been planning to hope that the garage had dishes in need of washing, or would be open to solicitation. But, I thought, surely it is more complicated than that!

No, internet, it isn’t.

We opened a cap, and poured in some liquid. My car is purring like a happy kitten, and the whole business was achieved with a glass of wine in hand. The way everything should be achieved. Suck it, life! I win.

—–

Izzi is saying to me, right now, “I love me an ellipsis, but eventually a sentence just needs to END.”

—–

Rocktober was on Friday night. I was house-sitting for Kelly again, so I went up to her place after work to get ready. I put on my new black jeans, loaded up the eyeliner, and emptied a can of hairspray into my teased hair. (Then I put it in a ponytail so you couldn’t tell, like a secret painful present for morning-Katie to brush out. Don’t say I never gave you anything, hungover future self.)

I’d brought soup and a bagel from work to eat beforehand — not because I was planning on drinking sensibly but because I really wasn’t. Damage limitation, my friends! It’s a beautiful concept. As I went to prepare my dinner, I realised that the dog was getting fur all over my snazzy stretch capris.

So I took them off.

Pleased with my nous — ha, last blog! SUCK IT! — I returned to the kitchen and set about toasting my bagel. It was a warm day and I’d left the back door open behind me, so the sounds of neighbourhood chatter drifted in on the breeze. I was finding the whole situation quite delightful, until I turned around to get a plate.

As it turned out, Kelly’s neighbours were having a gathering out on their deck… directly opposite the open door in front of which I was making soup IN MY UNDERWEAR.

Confronted by a party of strangers all trying to pretend we hadn’t seen each other, I beat a hasty retreat to the bedroom to find my pants. When I returned, my plate was empty and a very innocent-looking dog sat quietly in the corner, surreptitiously licking his chops.

So that’s the story of how I arrived at the bar and Jeffrey was like, “You should do three shots of tequila in a row on an empty stomach!”

And I was like, “Okay!”

Which lead to this:

Which almost lead to a story about how I sold my body for an oil change.

Oh well. There’s always next time.

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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.

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This is very excitable.

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I am eating an asparagus, ham and strawberry salad. OH SUMMER, YOUR FOOOOOD. Strawberry + ham + balsamic vinegar = A DELIGHT TO THE SENSES. Specifically the tasty ones.

I have just agreed to drive back from the Coromandel to Whangarei (4.5hrs) to visit my birth-father’s fandam after new year. Thus! Wellington > Taupo > Whangarei > Hahei > Whanagrei > Wellington = 31 hours of driving in > 2 weeks. Thank golly my CAR IS FIXED! Although, since it has now proven itself to be a HATEFUL TRAMP more times than I can count, it probably won’t be by then! (Sorry car! I love you! I didn’t mean it! Don’t hurt me!)

It is almost the WEEKEND! My coffee-making girl person complimented my hair! I am supposed to be making posters with humorous pig pictures! HUZZAH!