Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve funeral

Well it was the last thing I expected. Got a facebook message yesterday from Patrick. For long-time readers, with a good memory, they will know 'Patrick' was my first boyfriend and featured heavily in my Bad '80s Diaries, which I have since publishing here, put back into drafts so they aren't public anymore. At least I fucken hope not.

Patrick and I aren't facebook friends but somehow he can message me. I'm not sure how that works, as it didn't come with a friend request. Who the fuck knows. Anyway, he said his mum died and the funeral was this morning. Gave the address and time and I messaged back thanking him for letting me know. And said I'd be there.

So. I went. It was hard, not just because his mum was a lady I loved and a special person and so there were lots of tears, including Patrick struggling with his eulogy. And his daughter standing beside him, in tears. It was harrowing.

It was hard for all these reasons, but also because:

1. when I hugged Patrick I smeared my invisible zinc all over his pristine white shirt. Invisible zinc is not fucking invisible. So there was that.

2. When I said hello, by tapping on the shoulder, to P's sister's husband (who I think in the past sent me a bunch of flowers and anonymous romance card) I said hello and called him by the wrong name. His wife's name.

3. When I was leaving, after service, after car had driven away, but before light refreshments, I was doing my sunglasses-spectacle changeover, like a fuss-pot granny and dropped my specs on the ground and had to stop and get them, bum in air, in the middle of grieving friends and relatives.

So I'm home, after stopping at Danny Murphy's on the way. We are now stocked up with wine, vodka, champagne, apple cider and beer. I have to go and cook three chooks (and do stuffing) and make a trifle and cook rice for rice salad. And get tables and chairs out of garage and set up. And go down street one more time to get those things forgotten.

So to everyone, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Wonderful Everything.

Take it easy, take care. I'll be around.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Contract is through




After five weeks of waiting, negotiations, and a bit of to'ing and fro'ing, the hard copies of book contract arrived in mail today.

So tonight we drink a leetle champagne (it's the season, after all. Last night we had sparkling, because we were setting up the Christmas tree!) But tonight, it's real Champagne, for the signing of the contract. It's been a hardish longish road, though when I think about it, it was only 2008 when I got a bit more serious about my writing, and 2009 when got really serious and did the year-long course with the aim of producing a completed first draft of a novel by the end of it. So, what's that. Six years. and it's been hard work, I have really worked hard, and it's been fun and wonderful, and I've waited a lot too. But I am lucky because my persistence has had results.

I know people who aren't trying to do this (that is, publish a novel, in this country, with a conventional publisher) probably don't have any idea how hard it is, how it's not just a matter of good work being rewarded, or hard work being rewarded. There are so many other factors involved, that I had no idea about before. Until I learned about them. Things like thick-skins, patience, determination (read sheer bloody mindedness), luck, resilience, stamina. And people who don't know about publishing wouldn't realise how SLOWLY things move, even when going well.

They say it's always been hard to get published, and they say too that it's never been harder than now.  Also what I'm writing - literary fiction - is the hardest genre of all. Publishers balk at it, it doesn't sell much.

But this is the best Christmas present I've ever had. Better even than my new purple Malvern Star when I was about ten. Better than the Totem Tennis. Better than the game I got when I was about nine, where there were a bunch of marbles and you set up this plastic channelling thing and a mechanism drew up the marbles and then pummelled them down onto three or four drum things that bounced them in a pattern. Better than the Crystal Cylinder two-tone windcheater; the brown bikinis with palm tree design, the board shorts. The skiffle board that got lost on its first outing at Waratah Bay. How do you lose a skiffle board? You leave it by the water's edge and run back to the towel to eat a sandwich or have a drink or dig in the sand. And then when you go back, it's just gone. Buried.

Today I floated in the bay for a while, with a friend, and we each had blow-up rings. She gave me the orange one, her favourite she said, but it kept deflating. When we walked back to the car there was a tumble weed rolling along the footpath.

It felt like it came to meet us, to find her. It had travelled from the country and was rolling along. I told her she needed to take it, and think about it. That it had a message for her.

Sometimes I get very hippy when I am with her. We met at teacher's college years ago, and travelled together for five weeks in Indonesia in 1986 I think it was, not knowing each other that well. We don't see each other often but when we do it's great. She's having a hard time, with her kids, her husband, the rest of her family, including siblings and mother. We talked about our lives and shared our pain and good stuff and it made me realise, again, how much I have to be grateful about. When I talk about my family shit, at least my sister and I are talking and affectionate most of the time. We push through our negative stuff.

I'm not sure whether I'll post again before Christmas or over New Year (though I do fancy a bit of a New Year's Eve here on the blog, if I don't go out. Haven't had a party since the election that time.) So, what are you hoping for, in your wildest dreams? For yourself or for someone else. I'd love to hear it.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Sick, and tired

It is that fucking time of the year. I have a head cold. I don't know if you remember but last year, at this time, I fell in a heap. Had laryngitis, couldn't teach my final sessions for the year, and it then moved into my chest, then up to the sinuses. I am hoping this head cold just stays in the head then fucks off without spreading anywhere else.

I'm trying to rest as much as possible.

P came back from her beach sojourn yesterday, she had a ball. At one stage there were 19 of them all in a house, having fun cooking together, chatting, playing games, swimming. I remember being young and in a big group and how much fun it was.

On Friday P has laser surgery on her eyes. She's worn glasses since she was about 5 or 6 and contacts since about 11 or so. She is so over them, so on Friday her eyes will be lasered and hopefully she will have good eyesight, at least for a number of years before they start to deteriorate again.

Today is Clokes's daughter's bd, she is 19. Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be older than that. December is filled with family and friends birthdays, it's kind of annoying. But anyway.

I've got the contract from the publisher, have worked my way through making notes. Will talk to agent this week. Things have been slowed of course: for two weeks agent and pub were each expecting the other to send it through. Hah. And then it's just been the Thanksgiving weekend in the US so nothing has happened from that end.

So many delays. I can't imagine how non-patient people cope. I have a friend who also writes, she's a bit behind me in the process. She is so impatient. She is already talking about self-publishing and she hasn't even submitted it to publishers; and has submitted it to maybe two agents and gotten good feedback but ultimate knock backs. She is going to drive herself mental if she can't find some patience and the ability to sit with ambiguity, be still with uncertainty. Also it astounds me how people don't realise that to get published you have to submit, and submit to a shitload of places, and often over a long period of time. We all have stars in our eyes that we will be the one who snaps it in a single go. I'd like to know how often that happens, out of all the traditionally-published authors, how many approached one agent, say, and they took them on. Or one publisher and they said yes. Because if the amount of published novelists (traditionally) sits at 1 in a thousand manuscripts (I've seen publishers say they think that's way too high) then of that amount, what percentage have had a 'smooth run' ie 1 for 1 in terms of pitches.

So my head is hot and I'm going back to bed. My final teaching is tomorrow, two hours in the middle of the day. My voice is holding up so far, I think I'll be okay. And then I'm off for the summer, yay.

Oh, and I wrote 3,000 new words last week, which is pretty good considering I hadn't worked on that project for months. So I'm about 3K off my target for completed first draft. Also need to go back to the first one, and rewrite, but that will be a big project. So want to get this shorter one done first so it's ready to show pub when the time comes. Then if I have two in the pipeline it buys me time to get the third one how I want it.

What are people's plans for the summer? Anyone doing a big Christmas? A small Christmas? A no Christmas?