Thursday, March 31, 2011

There's been a very definite shift in the weather over the last couple of weeks; winter suddenly feels imminent.  I drove over the hill to check Murderers this morning and there was snow on distant peaks.  The wind that whipped underneath my towel while I was getting changed at Aramoana (Murderers wasn't looking tempting) had little of summer in it either, and I pulled on a hood for the first time in a few months, looking after those ears.

I'm still looking to consistently click with the waves around here.  There's nowhere where I ever feel at home, on top of what's going on.  I've never been the best at reading beach-breaks, but I would still have expected to find a corner somewhere that I could have made my own.  It's yet to happen, just one of many things that has the warm song of the North getting louder.

I have far too many computers.  One effect of this is that I have folders with my writing in it spread around the house.  So when I pick up a different laptop - sometimes for the first time in months, for reasons too boring to go into here or anywhere - I get to see stuff that's been sitting, waiting for me.  Sometimes this is good, sometimes bad.  This time it's been good - I picked up something I'd sketched out which has a very different voice and feel to the story I've been working on recently, and it excited me.  I saw new places it could go, and the change of language is refreshing.

So I've picked that up for a while, and I'll run with it a bit longer.  I wonder how many other writers wok like this - flitting between one unfinished project and the next, sometimes seemingly never closer o finishing any of them.  Is it just a reflection of who I am - a damning reflection,at that - or a valid way of keeping what I produce - I don't know, passionate isn't the word...somehow less mechanical, truer, containing more of me?  Either way, even if only intuitively (obviously, as I can't even find the words to describe it logically!) I think it's important, part of the giving process of authoring, and for that a more rewarding, if less productive way of writing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Roadtrip time...

Loaded the bus with the whole family and camping gear for the first time in too long, and headed for central Otago.  Hot days, cold nights, and some special places...

Above the lake at St Bathans 

It's called the Blue Lake...

There's worse views to have upon rolling back the side door from the comfort of bed.

Another river full of trout that stayed there.  Bastards.
We went over the pig route, State Highway 85 from Palmerston to Ranfurly - an old wagoner's route from NZ's pioneer days.  Coming over some of those hills with a team of horses must have been unimaginably hard - places like Dead Horse Pinch got their name for a reason.  It's amazing how western humanity has largely become a race of total pussies in just a couple of generations.

Good times, and good dubbing country...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The publishing problem

Ah, publishing.  We've been expecting you.

As the story starts to take a tauter, more final shape, it's understandable that my mind has turned to how I'm going to get it out there.  I've always subscribed to the viewpoint that only a "proper" publishing house would do.  A closer look at the current publishing situation though, has begun to fill me with doubt.

For a start, I'm in New Zealand.  Aside from the presence of a couple of literary behemoths, publishing houses here tend to be small and niche.  The importance of the fiction being from New Zealand is continuously stressed.  I, however, am not - and therefore neither is my fiction.  I could change place names to jump through a hoop, but I doubt the result would be satisfactory to anyone.  No, better to not pretend to be something I'm not.

Finding an agent might prove to be something of a nightmare, too.  Almost every agent who's details I've checked out is currently not accepting submissions, the product of a down-turn in the publishing market - which is number three.

I could try and push my book to agents in the UK or the US too, but I would be facing the same down-turn, and probably an even more glacial pace of submission and rejection.

So I have turned my mind to self-publishing, albeit not by the traditional route.  I've been checking out the sales of ebooks for the likes of Amazon's Kindle, and it seems on first and second glance to be a market pregnant with possibility.  The problem, as always, is marketing, but at least I won't have surplus stock with which to insulate my attic. 

I'll be looking at epublishing in more detail in future postings.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Curing itchy feet...

My feet have been getting itchy.  Really itchy.

Whether this is because I've barely set foot outside Dunedin in seven months - two brief weekend camping trips aside - or because the end of summer is in the air (was that it?), or because in this last crazy fortnight in NZ what's really important in life is standing proud in our minds, I'm not sure.  I know last weekend was really hard though - epic sessions going down in Taranaki with a crew of good friends out, while I drifted between so-so waves in a layer of fleece.

I got back from a trip out in the van, swept the sand and the ice-cream wrappers out, and parked it in the garage.  Next to the camping gear, and the shelf with the spares on it.  There's an oil filter sat there now, along with a four-litre can of Castrol.  I stood there and looked at my van and figured just what I'd have to do to fire it up and drive the thousand mile journey north:  oil change, valves, set the timing. Check the tyres.  Fetch the ipod and throw some baked beans in the headbanger.  Go - there's plenty of time along the way to deliver the motivational speeches that I know, deep down, keep her going.

It was hard enough not to run right on in and book the ferry then and there.

I moped around for a couple of days, wondering how I could shake myself out of it.

I surfed every day - quick blats to the beach in the car, so as not to cut up the day.  Didn't help, too much.  Now I had sore shoulders to go with the itchy feet.

Tried to write - that always makes me feel better.  Couldn't.

So I loaded up the bus - me and the dog, a surfboard, lunch, and a laptop.  I went and parked down at a nice beach, surfed some okay waves, walked the dog, and then sat down in the bus and ate.

It's a curious thing, as to why sitting in the back of the bus should be so healing.  Maybe it's the smell. (All buses smell good.  If you're an olfactory pervert who doesn't like getting their hands dirty - stay away.  You'll have to have one.)  Maybe it's some cosmic imprint left in the fabric of the thing by near-as-dammit forty years of good times going down in there.  Whatever.  But for the first time in a week the words came back, in a trickle at first, and with them some sense of - if not contentment, then a lessening of unease, for sure.

Buses is fucking great, and you knows it.