Monday, March 31, 2008

More election news

The official results of the election are being announced in dribs and drabs, which is making everyone suspicious. In previous elections the results have been announced within a few hours. Coupled with the fact that MDC has been claiming a win, this makes everyone think that Mugabe's plotting something.

The only result that has been announced so far is that Mugabe's party has won three seats and the opposition has won three seats. Nothing since then. Riot police are in the streets of Harare, and if the opposition does win, the head of police and the head of the Defence Forces are threatening a coup.

At least we know from the MDC and SADC observers that the MDC does seem to have won a majority in most areas. If that isn't reflected in the results, rigging will be obvious. Mugabe is tempting fate by delaying the results - that's exactly what started the recent violence in Kenya.

Anyway, we wait, and watch, and hope. Out here in the diaspora we can't vote, but we're eagerly awaiting the results.

If you want to find out, this article gives a brilliant overview.

I did receive this bulletin from one news source, but I don't know if it is definitive or just another rumour:

BREAKING NEWS. Please spread around

Global Zimbabwe Forum-USA has received the following information:

CIO informant says meetings are taking place to determine the
exact figures that must be announced. This is no longer a question
of how many votes were tallied

ZANUPF will be given over 100 seats
MDC (Tsvangirai) will be allocated 93 seats
Rest will be shared among Makoni and Mutambara

CIO is now waiting for people to go sleep s they can announce the

Tomorrow’s Herald (Tuesday) is going to publish that Mugabe has
won the elections.

The army has now been deployed around the country at full alert
and with orders to deal ruthlessly with any protests.

Waiting for ZEC results is now fruitless exercise.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Soldiering on, as my mum would say

Well, I have been trying to do some work, but I have that fuzzy-headedness that comes from having a cold, so it hasn't been easy. It feels good having done something, though - after taking Easter and LOML's birthday off last week, I was feeling very behind, and I didn't want to achieve nothing on my sick-days.

On a side-note, I have eaten so much today. I don't know what it is about having a cold, but it makes me want to eat constantly. So I've had toast, half a packet of scorched almonds, two helpings of tuna pasta bake and a slice of chocolate mud cake. By the time this goes away I won't be able to fit into any of my clothes.

I am bored of being sick now. The lounging-around-eating-soup thrill has worn off, and I am going stir crazy.

Total word count: 97,000
Today's word count: 1,000
Cups of coffee: none - I am drinking water instead in an attempt to flush the germs out.

A shot from LOML's birthday party ...

Fingers crossed ...

It looks like Mugabe may have lost the election, despite his attempts at rigging (one of which was getting dead people to vote for him!). The MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) is claiming a victory. Of course, this doesn't really matter - the official, government vote count often mysteriously changes the results, and the head of the army announced just before the election that he will support Mugabe (oh yeah? You and what army? Oh ...). If Mugabe does lose, by some chance, I can't see any outcome but another war. And while I don't want a war, we need to get rid of Mugabe somehow. If by some chance he does lose and (miraculously) steps down without a fight, I will have a party so big that the police will have to shut it down.

If you're interested in finding out more about the situation, check out ZWNEWS. They have a good mix of articles, and they include some from Harare's government-run newspaper, The Herald, which is always pretty entertaining.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why I have vanished

Have been in bed all day with flu. Everything hurts! But LOML has been looking after me with chicken soup and drinks. Back to sleep now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Friday morning update ...

Total word count: 95,500
Today's word count: 1,000
Cups of coffee: only two so far
What's playing: Sarah Harmer and Savage Garden

I woke up today with not a cold but a scratchy eye. No contact lenses for me today, sadly, which basically dictates that I will spend most of the day indoors being a hermit. Apart from a quick trip to pick up my dress.

Actually, just as I typed that, I felt the scratchy eye disappear. I am almost afraid to blink in case I am imagining it. How weird. Maybe if I pretend I haven't noticed it will stay un-scratchy?

I do apologise for writing so much silliness, I think I am still in rambly mode. I had one of those nights where my brain was buzzing so much I couldn't get to sleep for hours, and when I did I had incredibly busy and involved dreams. This meant that I woke up with a) four pages of notes and ideas for the book and b) stressed-out eyes and a headache.

Various sleepy mutterings

I'm looking forward to picking up this dress from the dressmaker's tomorrow ... hopefully it will be fabulously fitted and ready to be teamed with gold heels for LOML's birthday party on Saturday night.

I have wasted so much time this evening web-surfing and watching terrible television. I feel like I have had an unproductive day, but I haven't really - I have written 1,500 words. I would have liked more, but I don't want to force it just for the sake of pushing the word count up.

LOML has a cold, and I am desperate not to catch it. It's kind of inevitable, though, so we'll see. Maybe I can will my immune system into fighting it off.

Ramble, ramble, ramble. I need to get offline and go to bed. Good night and sleep well, if you're in the same time zone as I am.

Edited to add: Oops, word count is 2,000. I think I am going a little mad tonight.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Total word count: 93,000
Today's word count: 2,000. I'm taking a break to live in the real world for a couple of hours, but then I'm going to get back to work for a bit. Haven't sent off the chapters to my advisor yet, because I'm still deciding whether to send him a couple of extras, but that is something else to be decided after dinner.
Cups of coffee: Five!
What's playing: Queen

I definitely feel like I've done good work today. I filled in some gaps and got a bit more direction, and I've done a good bit of formatting as well. All productive things. Although I have yet to get a good handle on the latest chapters. Perhaps that's an after-dinner job too, depending on how gung-ho I feel.

Right, off to do some much-needed housework and make Magic Soup for sick LOML.

Brief moment of excitement

The sun came out! Just for a second!

It's gone now.

Back to work

Good morning, good morning!

I'm back to work today, a little later than the rest of New Zealand as LOML had his birthday off yesterday. It's going to be a busy week. A busy day, in fact. I need to:
1. Format the latest batch of pages I'm sending to my advisor and email them off,
2. Write up all the notes I scribbled in various locations around the country over the weekend (and hopefully get to at least 2,000 words today),
3. Take myself off to some neutral location and make sense of the latest chapters, and
4. Email those chapters to LOML so he can print them off for work (our ink has run out, as it always does when I want to print something big).
And there should probably be some housework slotted in there too. We played Warhammer for most of the day yesterday, and our dining room table is still set up as a mini-battlefield with tiny horses running across it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

More bookcases ...

This one was designed by Josefin Hellström-Olsson, and was found through The Style Files. I want it!


We spent the day in Akaroa with LOML's brother and his wife. It was a great day although it did involve a countryside 'ramble' that left my legs feeling like jelly. For those of you who don't live locally, Akaroa is a small town on a beautiful harbour. The French almost settled there, and the town took this one bit of French connection and really ran with it. All the roads are Rue this and Rue that, the signs are all in French, and there are lots of French bakeries, lavender farms, cheese factories, that kind of thing.

On our 'ramble' we stopped at Tree Crop Farm. It's a gorgeous place ... a historic farmstead that operates as a romantic retreat and cafe. I'm too sleepy to attempt any sort of description tonight, but here it is. Sorry for the blurriness of the photos, I had the camera on the wrong setting and only realised when I got home. As you do.

Friday, March 21, 2008


So taking a break from writing hasn't really happened ... just wrote 1,000 words. But in a relaxed way ... so technically I am still on holiday.

I heart Lyttelton

We headed over to Lyttelton today to take some photos. For those of you who don't live in Christchurch, Lyttelton is Christchurch's harbour. It's an odd place in that it's part of the city, but also kind of a town in its own right. It's separated from Christchurch by the Port Hills, and it has a thriving artistic community, which means it's pleasantly weird. The town itself is a mix of industrial and harbour equipment and character-rich old buildings.

Here's the harbour:

And the town:

And this 100-year-old cottage, which was for sale. If I had the money, I'd love to buy it and do it up ... maybe one day. When I'm a rich author (cough).

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Check these out. This bookcase/staircase was designed by Levitate Architects in London (found through Apartment Therapy and The Style Files).

And this 'floating' Sapien Bookcase from Design Within Reach is Pretty Damn Awesome as well - has the look of a big pile of books without the drawbacks - i.e., taking a book out and watching the whole stack fall over and crush unsuspecting passers-by.

Last update before Easter!

Total word count: 90,000! Woo-hoo! Four days of holiday ahead! And now I really am stuffed. Going to bed now. Night night.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Andrea's Magic Vegetable Soup

I may have mentioned my magic soup once or twice ... the super-healthy, super-easy, super-yummy stuff I make at the beginning of each week and then eat for lunch for the next few days? Anyway, thought I might post the recipe here just in case someone else wants to try its magic goodness. It's a broth-y kind of soup, so it's pretty clear. Takes about half an hour to make, including preparation. I like it.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, diced
(Sometimes I also add three or four chopped spring onions, if I've got them)
1 leek, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
5 courgettes, chopped
2 cans of asparagus, drained (you could use fresh, but I'm lazy)
2 litres of hot chicken stock (if you're a vegetarian, you could use vegetable stock, but I like the flavour of chicken stock better. If I want to stretch the soup out during the week, I add more hot stock to it ... you can get away with adding a couple of cups' worth before the flavours thin out too much)
1 400g can of cannellini beans, drained
1 tsp garlic, crushed, fresh or dried
Salt and pepper to taste
Some grated cheese to serve


1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add the onions, leek and carrots and fry for 5 minutes until they start to soften.
2. Add the chicken stock, cover and bring to the boil. Add the courgettes, asparagus, garlic and beans, then simmer for 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Season to taste.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese! It also works well with a teaspoon of basil pesto and/or sour cream. If you don't want to eat it straight away, letting it sit in the fridge overnight makes the flavours stronger and even more yummy.

Second-to-last update before the holidays ...

Total word count: 89,000
Today's word count: 1,000
Cups of coffee: four
What's playing: Air

I'd like to get to 90,000 today, and then I'm taking Easter weekend off. I am so tired. I want to take a few days to just relax, hang out with my husband, do some painting, gardening, practise my music (haven't touched the guitar in weeks) and do a few things I've been meaning to take care of ... like clean out my closet. I'm trying not to feel guilty about this ... since I work from home and I'm not earning much (any) money, I feel like I should be working 24/7. But I'm exhausted, and my body's been hovering on the brink of flu or a cold or something for a couple of weeks. I think a break would be good.

Me and my worry dolls

I am one of life's worriers. All the time. About everything. So I thought I would show you one of the tools I use to combat late-night worrying ...

Worry dolls! I talk to these guys. They get one worry each, and then they sit in my bedside drawer and worry for me all night. I used to get worried about them - it seems unfair to make them worry - but it is their job, and I'm sure they don't mind doing it.

My mum bought them at Trade Aid - they're originally from Guatemala.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Well, I pushed through the lack-of-energy and reached 88,000 words. Woo-hoo!

That said, this is a heartbreaking task. I'm writing about the disintegration of a society and way of life ... coming to the end of the book, I seem to spend most of my time thinking about violence, exile, riots and murder. I think that's another factor contributing to my feeling of burn-out ... I don't want to remember this stuff. I find it hard to remember, and I get regular headaches just trying to think about it long enough to jot the words down. It sounds melodramatic, I know, but it's true.



Total word count: 87,000
Today's word count: a paltry 500. I know I should be grateful for every word, and it's better than nothing, but I can't help feeling a little down.
Cups of coffee: five
What's playing: Regina Spektor

Writing. Is. Hard. Today. I feel tired and achy, and all I want to do is sleep. The book seems tangled and overwhelming. LOML suggested that a change of scenery might be good, and I agree. I don't want to work at university because I think that would be more stressful than helpful, and also distracting - they're doing noisy construction in the English building, the Arts students are still protesting, and there will inevitably be other post-grad students sharing the room, and I'm not up to socialising with new people at the moment. Sad, but true. The book is taking up all of my Daring and Adventurous Self, and leaving only my Hermit Self. I think tomorrow I will take my laptop for a field trip and do some work in a different environment ... minus the Internet and all its enticements.

I can see that my original deadline of reaching 100,000 words by the end of March is well within reach. The book, however, looks like it's going to overshoot that goal by 10 or 20,000 words, so I imagine I'll be finished mid-April. Finished the first draft, that is. Overshooting isn't such a problem, as when I come to revise I'll be trimming off a lot of fat.

I've spent this afternoon working on a chapter that's about 3/4 of the way through, which deals with the 1997 food riots (among other things). I'm about ready to format up to page ... um ... about 130 or so, to send to my advisor. Which leaves 60 pages of untidy stuff that hasn't been formed into coherent chapters yet. That's the stuff I'm thrashing out now. It's following its usual pattern, something like a messy room - it has to get a lot messier before it gets clean. I'm gradually working through and getting them into some kind of shape.

Okay, time to get back to work.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Thank you both for coming."

Happy Tuesday .... and take a look at this hilarious article on the 'Novelists' Strike' ...

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I have reached 85,000 words! Lots of work to do tomorrow, but today I can retire triumphant and drink wine and eat burritos. I was sounding classy there until I added "and eat burritos".

Stuck in the middle

Every writer knows the horrors of the middle - that vast, tangled mess that is the meat of your novel. Here is a great article by Jim Butcher on how to combat the GSM (Great Swampy Middle), as he calls it.

Thank God I'm (semi)past this stage ...

Monday morning

Total word count: 83,500
Today's word count: 1,500
Cups of coffee: four

I started this post on Monday morning, and it has since ticked over to Monday afternoon. I could change the name, but I like the time-travel connotations and so I am going to keep it.

It has been a productive day so far ... 1,500 words. I try to keep Mondays free of errands, chores and social engagements as much as I can so I can make a strong start to the week, and this week that seems to have worked out. I did, however, take a break for lunch and to clean out the fish, who were almost invisible in the green water (names: Twist and Shout). So, back to work - my goal is to reach 85,000 words by the end of the day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Done for the day!

Total word count: 80,000. Whee!
Today's word count: 2,000
Cups of coffee: five
What's playing: nada

Phew, managed to crank out another hour of work. Hurrah! I feel like I've really earned the fish and chips we're having for dinner tonight. Also, we're going ice-skating later, so all those greasy fish-and-chip calories will be burned off. Hopefully.

Another quote

I'm finding quotes very useful these days, as I wring words out of my brain like dirty water out of a cleaning rag. They put it better then I can at the moment. Here's one from Elie Wiesel ...
"Acutely aware of the poverty of my means, language became obstacle. At every page I thought, 'That's not it.' So I began again with other verbs and other images. No, that wasn't it either. But what exactly was that it I was searching for? It must have been all that eludes us, hidden behind a veil so as not to be stolen, usurped and trivialized. Words seemed weak and pale."

Driving Creek Railway

Although I visited this place months ago, on my honeymoon, it has stuck in my mind ever since, and I have wanted to write a post about it for a while.

Driving Creek Railway in Coromandel is a narrow gauge mountain railway, working pottery and wildlife sanctuary, and it's one of the most inspiring places I have ever visited. It combines art, engineering and conservation. The railway winds up from the potteries to a lookout at the top of the mountain, and the route is lined with sculptures and recycled art. It was designed by Barry Brickell, a potter, who built the railway so that he could easily access and transport the clay from the mountain back to his studio. Now the train is a major tourist attraction, and Barry has opened up his studios to visiting artists who occupy a room for a certain amount of time and display their work in the railway's galleries. The whole place is planted with native trees and is a sanctuary for native species.

It seems to me like the perfect legacy; being an artist and creating and exhibiting your art, while also working towards something bigger - in this man's case, saving the environment. It's a magical place. I loved all the sculptures peeking out from the bushes alongside the train tracks, and the walls made of recycled tyres and glass bottles.

Stats and freak-out

Total word count: a notch over 79,000
Today's word count: 1,000. I had grand plans of getting to 80,000 last night and then powering ahead today, but I just stressed myself out. So I'm taking it more gently today and aiming for 80,000 by this evening.
Cups of coffee: four

Not that the end is in sight, I am definitely freaking myself out about it more. I've gone into Finals Mode (a hangover from university days), where I neglect every other aspect of my life and just concentrate on work. This may work for academic papers, but not for creative work. To be productive creatively I need to be relaxed and ordered in all aspects of my life. Today I'm taking a break from sitting at the computer and catching up on some housework to ground myself again (and hopefully stop the freak-out).

Monday, March 10, 2008


Sometimes I have to lift my head above the surface of my own story and take a breath. I am dragging my heels a bit over the writing and organisation of these later chapters, because these are things that are not pleasant to remember, and I haven't thought about them for years. It was more fun writing the chapters where living in Zimbabwe was idyllic, for the most part.

It is interesting to think that I have this huge part of my life that most of my friends just can't understand. One does, because she grew up in Zimbabwe too, and when we get together we talk about how no one else can completely understand us. Our need to draw the curtains and lock all the doors as soon as it gets dark. Our fear of being out alone at night, even in a safe neighbourhood. Our immediate assumption that every backfiring car is a gunshot. Our distrust of police. Our tendency to start crying at every news item about Zimbabwe. Our conflicting desires - to put down roots and to avoid putting them down (in case they have to be ripped up again). The world we grew up in has gone, and it only lives in the memories of the people who were there. We will never be able to take our husbands to the place where we grow up and say, 'that was my house, that was my school, that was where I learned to swim,' because almost everything is gone. And if it isn't gone entirely, it has fallen into such disrepair that it would be unrecognisable.

We know what it is like to leave beloved pets behind, or put them down because we couldn't find them a home. We have been caught up in the middle of riots and farm invasions. We have been robbed, and threatened, and we have lain awake at night listening to every snap of a twig thinking that maybe this time it really is Them, come to get us at last.

There is a huge chunk of my life that my husband and my close friends here will never understand, although they try to. And I can't explain it all. It is a lonely place to be, until you meet another Zimbabwean, and exchange that glance that says, "I understand. I know where you're coming from. I really do." And there is an undercurrent of warmth and communication there, whether you talk or not. Just knowing that they Know What It Was Like is comforting.

But this book is my attempt to explain some of it to those people who don't understand. And my attempt to record it for those people who do.

I just hope I can get it right.

The sense of an impending shape ...

Virginia Woolf says it better than I can:

"It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything."

A quick break before I carry on ...

I've spent the morning reading through everything I've written so far and adding bits and pieces where needed. I'm only up to page 95 of 168 (A4, single-spaced), and the latter chapters are the ones that need the most pummelling into shape, so a busy afternoon is ahead. I see-saw between being elated and dejected about my work as I read through, which shows I have absolutely no perspective on it at all. I do have to consciously disregard my emotions until the first draft is finished, otherwise I would just curl up into a ball, chew my nails right down to the bone and stop writing altogether.

I've probably written about 500 new words today. It's a little difficult to keep track. But I'm glad I'm taking the time to fill in the gaps - I've been merrily leaping ahead and writing later chapters for a while, but leave a trail of devastation in my wake that needs to be swept up.

Back to sweeping.

Colin McCahon Poem

I forgot to post this on Friday last week ... just a two-minute, jotted-down poem after my visit to the art gallery.

Colin McCahon

The simple, violent act
Of slicing a white line through black

Of writing God's words
In laborious paint

A simple thing.

And then

From the black well of glass
Someone stares back.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Swift and speedy update

Total word count: 76,000
Today's word count: 1,000 so far
Cups of coffee: two
What's playing: Tracy Chapman

Well, the Disruptive Dog kept me busy most of the morning, but I did manage to spend an hour on my work. I still need to do some solid work on re-structuring and organising what I've got. I think that will be tomorrow's job.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Process again

I have been watching the documentaries on the extended DVDs of The Lord of the Rings all afternoon, which is what I seem to end up doing most Sunday afternoons before we do to LOMLs' parents, and I have been thinking about the process of making films and how it relates to the process of making a book.

When I first started writing novels, I thought the key was to begin at the beginning, carry on until you get to the end and then stop. Ha! No. Well, that's how I wrote my first published novel, because I was writing it as a serial for my cousins, who were sick at home with nothing to do. I would finish a chapter a night and then email it to them. Since then, though, my novel-making has been a matter of writing a chapter here, a scene there ... sometimes just a sentence that I know I will need, saved out in a separate document to be spliced in later. Watching the documentaries of the filming of The Lord of the Rings, my process has come to seem remarkably similar to a filming process. Film actors are required to do scenes in a disjointed fashion for the most part, rather than working through it in a linear way as you would on stage. But they have to make it work. They don't have the luxury of working up to a scene by going through all the other stages of the story beforehand - they just have to plunge right into the moment and give a great performance. And when the performance is there on film, the real work begins ... all the post-production work. There are definitely parallels to be drawn. It is fascinating watching a creative work come together like that, as all the bits and pieces fall into place.

I like the idea of being a 'wordsmith' rather than a writer. I think it gives a more accurate image of what being an author is actually like. You are hammering sentences into shape, welding them together ... it's a craft like any other. And it's a job like any other, too. You don't skip a day at the office because you don't 'feel inspired', and you shouldn't miss a day at the keyboard for the same reason. I have good days where everything's going great, and days where I think I should give the whole writing thing up and get a real job, but most of my days are pretty standard, really ... neither particularly good nor bad, even a little tedious sometimes. But what I have noticed is that, when I read back over what I have written, the stuff made on the bad or humdrum days is just as good as the stuff written on the good days. It's just a matter of putting in the miles. That has been a really good lesson to learn, these past few months.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Total word count: 75,000
Today's word count: 2,000
Cups of coffee: four, and a frappuccino
What's playing: Billy Joel

Wow, now that's a real milestone. The three-quarter mark (theoretically ... I may go over my estimated total at the end, but it will have to be trimmed down to fit).

I don't think I can put it better than Neil Gaiman's NaNoWriMo pep talk did last year:

"You write. That's the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

A dry-stone wall is a lovely thing when you see it bordering a field in the middle of nowhere but becomes more impressive when you realise that it was built without mortar, that the builder needed to choose each interloc king stone and fit it in. Writing is like building a wall. It's a continual search for the word that will fit in the text, in your mind, on the page. Plot and character and metaphor and style, all these become secondary to the words. The wall-builder erects her wall one rock at a time until she reaches the far end of the field. If she doesn't build it it won't be there. So she looks down at her pile of rocks, picks the one that looks like it will best suit her purpose, and puts it in.

The search for the word gets no easier but nobody else is going to write your novel for you.

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I cou ld abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm---or even arguing with me---she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, "Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"

I was shocked. "You mean I've done this before?"

"You don't remember?"

"Not really."

"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."

I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

One word after another.

That's the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes in to Chapter Nine, it's the only way to do it.

So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another."

Unfortunately, I have to become a bit of a hermit this month. I am in the home stretch (of the first draft, that is), and I want to retreat into myself and work on this without too many distractions. I'm not the greatest company at the moment ... too involved in my story ... but the end is in sight!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Looking back over my blog entries for the last couple of months, I can see what a valuable tool it has been for tracking my progress with the novel. It's good to be able to write something saying "Yay, I did it!" or "Today was hard". It makes me feel, during these long days when I'm home by myself working on something in the hopes that one day it will be read, that I am not all by myself. So thank you for reading, whoever is reading.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Final post of the day, I promise

Total word count: a notch over 71,000
Today's word count: 2,000
Cups of coffee: four
What's playing: nothing! Just the chatter of my over-excited brain.

Feeling a bit frustrated

To be accomplished at plotting a novel, I think the ability to juggle chainsaws would come in handy. Also, you'd have a source of income if the whole 'author' thing didn't work out.

Shameless plug

I found this photo LOML took of me at Christmas. He's such a great photographer. If you ever need some shots taken for whatever reason, get in touch with him. Oh, and I'm always happy to take on copywriting and editing work. I wish Mink provided some service that I could shamelessly promote, but unfortunately he doesn't. He is just a cat.


I have reached 70,000 words! Hurrah. The villagers rejoice. I am celebrating by going to Borders this afternoon to nose around and salivate over books.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Big plans

I wrote another thousand words this afternoon, bringing the total up to 66,000. Tomorrow's job is to sort out the order and structure of the chapters, and then (ambitiously) get 4,000 words done! I'd love to reach the milestone of 70,000 tomorrow. It would be a great morale boost. We'll see.

I need to go on some kind of Artist Date tomorrow ... that is, taking myself out to fill up my mental well with imagery and ideas. Sounds very impressive, doesn't it? Really, it can be something as simple as going for a walk somewhere beautiful, or visiting a gallery. If I'm going to be productive tomorrow, I'll need that time.

On we trudge

Total word count: about 65,000
Today's word count: 1,200 so far
Cups of coffee: just two
What's playing: nothing. All I can hear is the sound of hammering from a couple of blocks away.

Phew, it has not been an easy morning. I'm working on a new chapter designed to fill a gap fairly early on in the book. I needed another chapter there, one that developed some characters further and also introduced traditional Christian religion, which will play a part later. Up till now it has all been traditional Shona religion and superstitions. After this chapter is one that has been bugging me for ages - I like it, and I really like some of the writing in it, but it has always seemed sort of pointless. I'm not sure if I should lose it altogether, or try to spin something out of it. I think the problem is that it doesn't serve a particular purpose, or have a strong central theme or time ... it's rather anecdotal. I like the way it ends, but ... well, anyway, after lunch I'm going to get out the toolbox and pick that one apart, and hopefully get it into some kind of shape.

I have worked out that I only need to write 1,800 words a day to reach my target of having the first draft completed by 30 March. It doesn't really matter if I don't make it by then, but I work well to deadlines. Of course, I'm hoping to write more than 1,800 words a day, too, but it's good to know that it's achievable in such small increments.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Books and moods and bad titles

We went to see my dad (stepdad number two) quickly this afternoon, and he told me that his sister had found my book in a shop the other day. She got really excited and bought three copies, one for each of her grandchildren. So I'm expecting millions of dollars of royalties to flood my coffers any day now. Actually that's probably true, except that they will be Zimbabwean dollars and I will only be able to buy a stick of chewing gum with them. All the same, it's nice to know that it's still out there. My publisher passes on the occasional letter to me from a reader, and it's always a surprise to remember that my book is out in the world being read. A nice surprise.

We haven't done much this weekend. Yesterday was a real energy trough for me - it was raining, and gloomy, and I was tired, so I lazed on the couch for most of the day and then felt guilty about it. I'm not looking forward to winter, although it has its good points, because that's when depression tends to rear its ugly head. It's amazing how much my mood is affected by the weather. I think it has been excellent timing, writing the first draft in summer. Winter is a good time to do all that nitty-gritty editing and rewriting stuff, but I think creating from scratch would be a bit of a slog while my energy and mood levels were so low.

One thing I forgot to mention after my meeting with my advisor the other day is that I confessed my complete lack of talent for coming up with good titles for my books. On the computer, they are all saved under names like "Book 1", "Book 2", "Other Book". The current one is actually saved as "Chapter 1" because I intended to save out all the chapters as separate documents, but that didn't happen (stupid idea, actually, until I come to the editing. It needs to be one solid mass of text while it's in a state of flux). So, my advisor has promised to keep his eyes open for good phrases or images that would make a snappy title. I really need the help.
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