Friday, November 28, 2008

grindstone day 4

Time: 3.27 pm
Page of draft:(reading) 208
Word count for day: 0
Pots of tea: 3.0
Flavour: citrus and peach
Lunch: more leftovers
Snack: weird caramelised potato chip things

A professor from Auckland was visiting and last night Mark and I had dinner with him in the centre of town. Of course it was bucketing down by the time we finished our "Chinese" restaurant meal (like all good Chinese I get sniffy about other cultures trying to imitate our superior cuisine). It's a good 20 minute cycle home, and with the downpour we both arrived home soaked, and me in a grumpy mood for going out without anything waterproof - I forgot to pack my beloved Goretex. Needless to say, a trip to the haruku-yen (100 yen - the local equivalent of the $2 shop) is in order to get me some cheap waterproofs. Today I took advantage of the sunny day to dry all my sodden clothes.

Since Mark doesn't have a car, I'm having to get used to cycling every time I want to get somewhere, and limiting my load accordingly. It's ideal conditions for cycling - flat, we have pedestrian right-of-way and are allowed to use the pavement and cycle across intersections, and the cars are on the whole respectful of cyclists. And there are a lot of us. Last night the city seemed to blossom with night cyclists, all of them gracefully holding a parasol aloft as they pedalled, while Mark and I gritted our teeth and barrelled through the rain.

Reading is still going slowly. I've discovered a downside to the old mantra "write what you know." There's a real risk of writing too much of what you know, in the (mistaken) concern that you have to show that you know what you're writing about. My old manuscript is now littered with my handwritten scrawls: TMI (too much information!).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Grindstone Day 3

Time: 1.53 pm
Page of draft:(reading) 137
Word count for day: 0
Pots of tea: 2.0
Flavour: the last dregs of Strawberry caramel
Snacks: man, those rice cracker things are moreish....
Lunch: huge bowl of egg fried rice, along with leftover beef and shitake stir fry (local shitake mushrooms are cheap and very juicy!)

I've taken a photo of the inside of the apartment today. We live on the 4th floor of a 5-storey nondescript concrete apartment block on the south side of Tokushima. It's university owned, with heavily subsidised rent for the lecturers and their families who live here. I'm not sure if this is typical of modern apartments in Japan, but the inside of the apartment is a lovely blend of old and new - the layout is a square divided (mostly) with thin sliding wooden partitions into 3 bedrooms, kitchenette, shower and lounge. It's all rather sparse but functional, though how much of that is Japanese influence and how much is bachelor lifestyle I'm not sure.

There's tatami matting in the bedrooms, futons (which are supposed to be rolled up during the day but we don't bother). The kitchen is a bit basic (gas cooker, sink, tiny fridge and couple of exceptionally useful gadgets,hot water urn and automatic rice cooker), but the toilet, shower etc are fully modern and westernised (no squatty toilets in this place!!). It's a very workable space for writing, as during the day I just open up all the partitions and have a large space to myself. It's quiet as well, except for the occasional advertising trucks that go by with announcements and elevator music (no noise control laws here, apparently).

Still reading my old draft and cringing when I notice the mistakes and overwriting. One hopes I will do better when I actually start the rewriting, but I guess that remains to be seen!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grindstone Day 2

Time: 1.10 pm
Page of draft:(reading) 52
Word count for day: 0
Pots of tea: 2.5
Flavour: Strawberry caramel (yum!)
Chocolate: Whittaker's dark mocha, 4 squares (so far)
Lunch: Um...does congee count?

OK, maybe this will spur me into doing some work instead of taking cute pseudo-Japanese pictures with Photobooth. Every day I will post some details of my novel redrafting progress.

Today, I am rereading draft 2 with a big blue pen in my hand, scrawling notes like "too slow", or "more interiority". They say that one of the best editors is the one at the bottom of the drawer and it's been about 12 months since I last really looked at the manuscript in its entirety. I really think that the year away from the manuscript has been quite good. I can look at it much more objectively (yes, there is cringe when I realise I wrote this - though I think post-writing cringe affects everyone.) Also, the year away has been spent learning to write drama, whose keywords are action and conflict.

I think I'm recognising more easily the places (there are many, sadly) where my writing loses momentum and focus on what is happening (something needs to happen all the time, whether it be in the mind of a character or in real conflict between characters). I think I'm also getting better at recognising when I am "telling" instead of "showing".

Anyway, in about 2 hrs I have to cycle into uni to meet Mark for a dumpling party, so I'd better get off the internet and keep going.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tokushima toiling

Well, here I am in Tokushima - spent the weekend biking around and exploring, and now it's time for the real work. I have until Dec 15th to work on the first eight chapters of my novel, and then I'll keep going on the next eight. I'm on draft 3.0 at the moment and once again I'm doing major surgery on the manuscript(amputation and limb regrowth). Looking forward to it, in a masochistic kind of way.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Headlines: Giant banana launched!!

at Te Karanga gallery, with amazing art exhibition in background.

The lovely Anna Kaye plays.

Some of the banana cake-munching crowd.

My newest poetry chapbook, Banana, was launched today, with guest readings and performances by my friends and mentors, Riemke Ensing, Siobhan Harvey and Doug Poole, family member Michael Onslow-Osborne and friend Anna Kaye. Around 50 people turned up including some friends and family who just happened to be in town for the weekend - what luck! It was an amazing feeling performing to a room full of new and old friends. The only hitch was when my nephew Marcus came up and tickled me as I was about to read a serious poem, and under the delightful onslaught I had to give in and start over once he had fled the scene.