Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dusting off the sun-cream...

It almost feels as if winter has passed:  there's been more that one consecutive day when I haven't had to have the heating on for more than an hour in the morning and the surf report is telling me that the water temperature has now risen to a balmy 10.4 degrees.  Some of the snowfields are delaying opening until later in the day to let the spring snow soften, and my garden is looking less like a weed-strewn liability and more of an asset.  Hopefully, this will mean someone will buy it.

Of course, now the house is on the market the south island has never looked lovelier.  At the weekend I fired up the bus and drove thirty kilometers up the coast, on a winding minor road perfect for slow travel by dub.  The swell wasn't really doing it, but there were glimpses of perfection.

The forecast looks good for this weekend, too.  It's still on the cold side for me to persuade the rest of the family that a night in the bus is a good idea (although I'm dropping hints almost daily about the effectiveness of merino and the joys of late-night beach fires), but day trips can now be undertaken with the almost certain knowledge that "day trip" might now mean "day trip" as opposed to "drive for an hour, jump out of bus, freeze ass off for ten minutes then spend an hour in a cafe trying to get warm again while everyone glowers at Dad."

So I'm looking forward to a weekend out and about somewhere in Otago.  It might not feel like home, but there's no denying:  it looks bloody good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thanks, Anton...

I came acros yet another writing rule, yesterday - if there's any such thing. It's attributed to Chekhov, and roughly states that an author should take the first three pages of any story, screw them up and chuck them in the bin.  The beginning of the story is where you are after you've done that.

So now I have something else to aim for.  Apart from writing a book of which I can be proud and which, hopefully, other people will get to enjoy too, I'm now faced with the challenge of writing a story that doesn't require the first three pages throwing away, just to be contrary.

It's not going to be this one though.  Although I'm still enjoying it immensely, still making good progress, I'm already concious of the amount of rewriting it's going to require just to hang together at all.  That, I suppose, is the price of starting out on a journey with no idea of where it's going beyond the end of the next sentence.

As in life, it has it's own rewards.  And, obviously, a price.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cruising through blue skies...

I'm having fun this week.  Life, as is it's wont, has decided that for a while at least, it's going to be easy.  So I've scored fun surf a few times, had a couple of windless bike rides, and ploughed on apace with one of the works-in-progress, the story aimed at the 11-14 reader.

One of the reasons I've been having so much fun with this has been the way in which the characters have presented themselves to me.  One of the main protagonists seems to resemble nothing more than Joan Collins with supernatural powers (which she may well have anyway), and I love Joan Collins.  How couldn't you?  Well, maybe if you were gay, and/or under eighty, or repelled by fake tan, and I'm not sure her arch-enemy in the story is any of those things.  Think of Christopher Cazenove, with slightly madder hair and an evil smile.  When you've got those two on your side, how can you not have fun?

The story's got its roots in Greek mythology, namely the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.  The research for this has been pretty interesting:  Heracles, for example, finds his way into the story aboard the Argo, as does Thesseus, he of the Minotaur fame.  Something that I don't think will translate with authenticity is the sheer level of violence of the times: you want revenge on your cheating husband?  Murder the kids.  Remarry, have another argument.  Murder the kids again,then said spouse (natch), then maybe lop your brother's head off too, just to shut the moaning grandparents up.  It's mindblowing.  This is the same culture that used to chuck every other baby off a cliff to appease the gods.  It's amazing they left it to India to invent the vindaloo, really.

So I'm having to tone that down a bit.  But you can rest assured that whenever the opportunity presents itself, I'll be turning Joan's dial up to eleven.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mackenzie madness

I've been for what will probably turn out to be my last ski trip of the year, a jaunt through the Mackenzie.  Myself and a friend from the 'naki had a cruisey road trip, with good snow at Ohau and fair to middling spring corn at Mt Dobson.  Before this trip I'd just kind of touched on the edge of the Mackenzie, but this time I ploughed right on in.  It was one of those high-expectations-get-totally-exceeded type things.

I'm not even going to try and write how cool it was.

Although the Tasman valley and glacier was up there.

Mount Cook peeked through the clouds just so I could check how cool that was, too.

And after all the grand-scale mind-blowing alpine vistas, there were some fresh spring lakeside colours that were just - well, cool.

And it wasn't even that cold.