Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting ready for roadtripping...again

I had another OK day of writing today.  I'm still at a point where I'm going over what has gone before - no teasers yet - but where I'm laying foundations for what's happening next.  Seeing as how I really haven't mapped this bit out, it's exciting, although slow writing.  The plot as it stands so far is pretty detailed and intricate - there's a lot of historical references, which I hope both add interest and authority.  The need to appear authoritative isn't a vain thing in writing, it's essential - it establishes the trust the reader has in the author; and also, as Flaubert said, God is in the details.

I picked up some oil and bits today for servicing the kombi.  I'm planning a roadie on my own down to the Catlins sometime in the next couple of weeks, should the surf and weather co-operate.  The days are pretty short and the nights long, so it'll probably be a one or two night deal, I think.  I'll take the laptop and write while the battery lasts.  My writing career began travelling: I consciously started pursuing this writing dream when I worked out at sea as an observer on Spanish fishing boats on Newfoundland's Grand Banks.  Over four months I penned the bones of what is probably the world's worst novel.

I vividly remember taking this photograph after a morning's writing; on the morning of the first day of the new millennium, feeling the ache of missing my eighteen-month old daughter and wife. I finished that novel two years later, and it occupies a proud position on my bookshelf from where it never moves.  It sits there taunting me really - I am your work.  As a motivator it's quite powerful:  there's a strong sense that in this awful work is something I have to atone for. Yet I'm equally proud of it: it's the stamp that marks the beginnings of my apprenticeship.

The first sketches of that novel were done a couple of years before, on my own again in a plain pension on the small island of Graciosa, just off Lanzarote. In between picking urchin spines out of my feet and trying to stem the flow of blood from scalp wounds - all marks of honour from tackling a heaving left-hander five miles daily walk away - I started writing out characters.  I would never have thought then that Graciosa would be the birthplace of something that would stick with me and possess me like writing - trying to tell stories - has done ever since.  Funny and powerful things happen on the road.

So when I travel solo I always look for and make room to discover new things in my writing.  Hopefully it'll be the same going down to the Catlins.  I'm timing this because I think that I'll be running into blockages soon, and the trip might just head those off.    But before then, I need to change the oil, adjust the valves, fix a couple of leaking pushrod seals and change the dipstick boot, a task which promises to have me swearing in new and interesting ways.


Post a Comment

Hi, thanks for reading - comments welcome!