Monday, April 19, 2010

This could be the first day of the rest of...

Firstly, I suppose I'd better deal with the hanging chad I left in yesterday's posting - about acquiring wisdom.

Before I began writing full-time (allegedly), I always thought of an introduction to an Evelyn Waugh novel - Men at Arms, I think it was - but that's incidental. It was one of those typical written-by-a-professor semi-autobiographical introductions that I seldom bother starting, and finish less often than that. This one had some merit - probably brevity - but there was something in it that stuck. This was to the effect that old Evelyn used to sit down at nine in the morning, have an hour for lunch, and knock out three thousand words a day with the greatest of ease, always amazed at how all he had to do - as he saw - was set the characters in motion, after which his job was merely to follow their lead.

So the first piece of wisdom I've acquired is that this isn't going to be the way this book gets written, and it didn't take very long to find that out, either. After a couple of weeks getting the new house in Dunedin sorted, it was the school holidays. (I'm fairly prepared to bet the farm on myself being rather more of a hands-on Dad than Evelyn was to Auberon, so this is my first get-out.) Even so, I managed to lock myself away every morning for a couple of hours and get enough of a start to be fairly frothing to jump right in, the first day of term. Cue my son, J, waking up at one o'clock with the kind of cough you'd get from an elephant in a tobacco lab. Here endeth the first lesson: this book's going to have to be fought for, line-by-line and one cup of strong coffee at a time.

And there's also the second lesson - I also have to make room for other things, such as sick kids and, almost as importantly, surfing. (You'll note there's no surfing in Brideshead Revisited - maybe there's a lesson there, too, but I'm going to ignore that one.) As I write this, there's a solid south swell hitting the coast: too big for the exposed beachies, which are all I really have had the chance to get to know so far.

(If you're wondering why I'm not frothing to jump into six-to-eight foot beach-break in a twenty-knot side-shore wind and 50 degree water, all I recommend is that you find someone who does, and then diagnose what's wrong with them, because it's probably medical.)

One of the good - and bad - things about moving locals is getting to know where works when. Be prepared to piss away several tanks of fuel, an afternoon or ten, and manage to be in the wrong place at the wrong time more often than not for months. I'm already well into this modus operandi, and I guess that a repeat of this is probably what's going to happen today: the swell model says it'll be big enough for the swell to wrap into Aramoana enough for it to fire around lunchtime; the webcam isn't showing anything yet. Somewhere near here, someone will be getting some great waves today.

But probably not me.


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