Monday, June 30, 2008


Where did Monday go?
Can't believe I'm already
This far through the week.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Pyrrhic victory, I hope

Shock - Mugabe has won the run-off election in which he was the only candidate participating. Nice one, Bob. You're the man. Morgan Tsvangirai called his win 'an exercise in self-delusion', which I think is a pretty accurate description. Hopefully this ridiculous scenario will spur some action on the part of other African leaders ... come on, guys!

I haven't heard from many of our friends there in the last few days, but everyone seems to be hanging in there, as usual. If there's one thing we Zimbabweans are very used to, it's hope in the face of darkness.

A warm welcome ... sort of

Home from the movies to find yet more cat spew on the carpet. The second time Mink has thrown up over the weekend, since he started on antibiotics for the war-wound on his forehead. He's booked in for surgery on Wednesday, but I think I'm going to take him in tomorrow as well - the poor wee boy can't be absorbing much of his medicine if most of it is sitting on our floors in a puddle. Oh dear.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The importance of cake

Busy week ahead ... I start work proper on revising the book tomorrow morning, and I think I'm meeting with the head of the local TV station this week, too (for a secret project that I am not allowed to discuss yet ... dum dum DUM. Those were meant to be three dramatic chords, in case you were wondering). A freelancing opportunity has also come up for an interesting story that I may be able to sell to a local magazine. I haven't worked for that magazine for ... wow, almost three years now, and a new editor is running the show, but they may still be interested in accepting the article if I pitch it right. There are great promotional images available, which should be a drawcard. I remember that when I was working as the editor of a magazine, good-quality, interesting, high-res images were what really sold an idea. Sad, but true.

Anyway, I am preparing for a week of frantic activity by eating leftover birthday cake. Life is good.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Revision woes

I have bought a fabulous 50s dress and a fabulous (not 50s) shirt! I will show you later.

Well, it has been six weeks since I finished the book - the minimum recommended amount of time to wait before revising a first draft (according to various other writers). As a friend of mine put it, working on the book before the time is up would be the equivalent of taking a souffle out of the oven too early. On Monday a dramatic chord will sound and I will officially be working full-time on the novel again.

Which is fine. The only sticking point is that I need some kind of system for how I am going to approach the revisions, rather than drifting merrily through like a soap bubble floating through the air. I work best under self-imposed deadlines and goals, so I need to start self-imposing them. A chapter a day? I will need to go through all the chapters several times anyway. Revising is quite a process:
1) Adjust the plot and story structure where needed
2) Rewrite where needed
3) Trim down the word count
4) Go through the whole novel polishing sentences and making each word as perfect as possible
5) Check all facts, chronology and continuity
6) Edit spelling and grammar to within an inch of the poor thing's life
Repeat as necessary. And it will be necessary.

I think a chapter a day sounds reasonable. I'll try it on Monday and see how I go.

Red alert!

In Bulawayo yesterday, thousands of 'red alert' flyers fell from the sky to carpet the city in red. This from Sokwanele:

"One person was overheard to say that maybe it was God himself, throwing them down as a reminder to Robert Mugabe that he still existed in Zimbabwe and was ready stand by the downtrodden and the oppressed and to remove him from power and deliver as all to freedom and peace.

A small group of singing supporters of the MDC also marched through the city while the flyers clouded the horizon.

As soon as they hit the ground the flyer were scooped up by excited pedestrians. People were seen in supermarkets afterwards discretely showing each other the flyers and laughing. This show of defiance after a time of terror has delighted those who were lucky enough to see them.

However, nobody is complacent in Zimbabwe. Everyone has had been touched by the regime's terror tactics and no one believes that they regime will back down without a fight. While they use terror and fear and violent weapons, democratic forces are determined to spread words, and hope and bright colours in a dark period.

This City of Kings, renowned for its resistance to the Zanu PF regime despite gross terror tactics during the 1980s, wore its pink fingers like a badge of pride on the 29th March 2008 when we voted for change and brighter future. That resilience hasn't diminished. One Bulawayo gentleman who was beaten and stabbed recently has said he has recovered enough to get ready to boycott.

We stand by everyone in our nation and especially those in the terrible areas where we know the regime will come out in their numbers and attempt to force citizens to vote for the geriatric dictator through a mixture of threat, intimidation, lies and violent force."

More on Sokwanele's Flickr page.

Kitty dramas

I am worried about our small cat (he's not very small, really, but to me he will always be a kitten). He has another abscess on his head which has swollen up today, so we'll have to take him to the vet tomorrow. We had endless dramas over Christmas when he got in a fight and developed a big abscess by one ear - many trips to the after-hours vet, many stays in kitty hospital and a week or so of a small, furry being wandering around our house looking like Frankenstein's monster. Hopefully that will not be the case this time. I am not looking forward to the vet trip, though - the vet always looks disapprovingly at Mink's girth and tells me off for not weighing him more regularly. He's not obese, but he's certainly plumper than ideal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Revising the novel ...

This is where I am sitting this afternoon. This is what I am doing. I have a strong sense of deja vu, because ... well, I'm not getting a lot of work done. And this reminds me of when I first started actually writing the book, and I would do about five seconds of work before doing one or all of these things:
1) Making coffee
2) Drinking coffee
3) Staring off into space
4) Checking my email needlessly
5) Surfing the web
6) Skimming through my playlist in search of the magical song that will enable me to write brilliantly
7) Cleaning something that probably should never be cleaned, like the back of the toilet cistern
8) Chewing bits of skin off my cuticles
9) Playing with the cat
10) Writing a blog post about how I can't concentrate
And it's even worse now, because I am heartily sick of the book. Much in the same way as you would be sick of a roommate who leaves his clothes on the floor and toothpaste all over the bathroom and keeps you up with his snoring. The book and I have been living in close quarters for too long.

I think I need some sort of system. While I was creating the book I used word count as a way of measuring my progress. I need something similar for the revision process, to give me a sense of forward momentum and achievement. I will have a think about it and come up with something amazingly efficient (I hope). For now, I'm going to stop procrastinating and get back to work.

White as a sheet (of paper)

This T-shirt is fabulous.

From The Quiet Life, found through the ever-lovely Design for Mankind. If I had this shirt I think I would write a poem on the front in fabric marker ...

In other news, I had a strange dream last night that I just remembered. I entered a contest which gave you twelve hours to compose a song which you had to perform at the end of that time, on stage in front of hundreds of people. I can't believe I signed up for that, even in a dream. How terrifying.

No news is good news ... by which I mean none of it is good.

Please read this article on how Mugabe is treating MDC supporters in Harare today. Everyone should know.

Back online!

Phew. I have the Internet again. We have switched service providers, and so I have been offline all day. It feels like I have just surfaced from underwater (probably good to have a day offline, but there you are).

I started slicing into my book today with gay abandon. Felt the same kind of thrill you do when ripping off a scab, which is a slightly disgusting simile, but I can't think of a better one. I removed an entire chapter, as well as several scenes, and the word count has dropped to 115,000. These are all sections I feel didn't add to the overall story, so even though I really loved some of them, they had to die. I mean go. Tomorrow I can start bandaging some of the wounds.

Monday, June 23, 2008


He has won again
You can see it on his face
And I’m surprised I expected
Anything else.

His lip glistens with sweat
He is wearing a shirt with his own face on it
He is shaking his fist, as he always does
It has all gone wrong, again.

I never thought I would be one of those people
Out here in the West
Who watches it all on television
Who makes concerned noises
Who switches it off.

"Mugabe Muoffice, Tsvangirai Muoffice, Mugabe kuHondo."


I've kept this blog since 30 June 2004. A surprisingly long time. And I've celebrated this by ... erm ... deleting all the archives up to 2007 (which took forever). I was a different person then, in a lot of ways, and I felt uncomfortable about having my teenage ramblings still available ... rather like having embarrassing diaries online, though not quite as bad. I'm sure no one ever dips into the archives, but just in case you do and wonder why they've vanished, that's why.

(I have them saved on my computer, because they're pretty entertaining to look back on).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Load of Old Rubbish


I wonder what happens to all we throw away?
In a typical day
I throw out cotton balls, tissues, empty soda cans
All the other paraphenalia that spans
A comet tail behind a life- What
A lot
Of equipment we need.

What a lot of rubbish I generated!
But of course it’s all fated
To end up somewhere or other,
A modern-day Golgotha.
Still, I’m clean
My house is clean
It’s really none of my business.

And what a streamlined life I lead!


I think when I’ve cleared out every last
Cobweb, stuck Elastoplast
On every scab
Hid traces of the drab
Garbage in my pedal bin,
Thrown out that old baked bean tin,
Deep-cleansed my skin
Cleaned out my closet
And made a deposit
I’ll be able to get on with my life.

A week ago I bought some free-range eggs
That, if I’m honest, are on their last legs
They’re eco-friendly but already late;
A little past their sell-by date.


Well isn’t this splendid?
(a question rather open-ended)
I spring-cleaned from top to bottom
Then again in case there was something I had forgotten.
I have a fat, complacent sack
Of loot for the nice rubbish men to stack.


My skin’s clear and glowing
My wardrobe showing
No rip, rent or tear
And no sign of wear
My hair’s lovely and clean
My house is pristine.

And all the rubbish has been
Or otherwise
Disposed of.


I have a nightmare
That one day I’ll forget to clean.

Like a volcano
The rubbish will erupt back in

All of the neighbours
Will see me as I really am

Covered in
And turn from me in horror and disgust.


You see
Dirt always comes back.

Fathers and father figures

As you probably know, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has withdrawn his party from the run-off election. I am sad, but I understand. There has been such a calculated and widespread campaign of violence and intimidation that there is no way the elections would be free and fair. Perhaps it is better for him to withdraw. It certainly seems to have drawn international attention to how horrific the happenings of the last couple of months have been.

I am very worried about my book and how my father is going to feel about it. I know that the character of the narrator's father is an amalgam of several people, but will he? He is one of the most easily offended people ever. We have been estranged on and off for the last four or five years, but things have started to get better again ... and I really don't want to slide back to that dark place. But I also don't want to dilute the book for the sake of not offending someone. I'm not really sure what to do.


Nutella's frozen;
Coffee, once poured, is stone cold;
Must be a Monday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


This is my button jar. It is rather pathetic so far, but I hope to build up my button collection gradually. One of the most magical things about visiting my grandparents when I was small was being allowed to empty Granny's button jar out onto the carpet and play with all the buttons. There were some amazing ones - the gold ones with the coat of arms on them from Grandpa's police uniform, the little red ones shaped like boats, the ones with cat pictures on them ... I don't know what happened to the buttons after Granny dies, but I hope they went to a good home.

My swamp, my rules

I'm reading through my advisor's notes on the manuscript. At one point he circles the word 'swampy' and says 'You use this word a lot - starting to get noticeable.' So I ran 'swampy' through the Edit > Find tool in Word, and it's true - I use 'swampy' eight times in the manuscript. Eight things in the story are swampy. I had no idea the word had such a powerful hold on my imagination, but it does.

(I usually use it in connection with vomit. Just a bit of trivia for you there).

The book is back! (with a dramatic chord and a cloud of dry ice)

Well, I met with my advisor this morning. We discussed the book, and we also discussed the nickname his students give him - 'Santa Claus.'
"I thought you looked more like Gerald Durrell," I said.
"Really? I'll have to look up some images on Google. Some people say I look like Hemingway." He strikes a pose.
"Or maybe Kenny Rogers."
He looks horrified.
"You should submit a photo to that website for men who look like Kenny Rogers. I think it's called"
"You don't say."

Anyway, he has given me all 250 printed pages of the book covered with scribbles to start work on, and a list of things to think about. One thing that surprised me was that he thought there was too much violence at the end. I have never thought of myself as someone who writes violent books, but I actually really relish all that gory stuff. And I think he's right - there's a big climax to the book, which is horrifying, and then there's a little mini climax afterwards (no double entendres intended here) which needs to be toned down so it doesn't detract from the main one. I agree. That's what comes from my Kamikaze method of handing in the final chapters without reading over them ... but honestly, by the time I was working on the final chapters I was so heartily sick of the whole thing that I just wanted to send it off and forget about it.

He really liked the final chapter of the book, which was great because I wasn't sure about it ... I would hate to end cheesily. The plan from here is to polish it all up. My advisor is going to approach someone from outside the university to read the book as well, for another perspective.

And then we work on getting it published! Whee.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Something to avoid

"What happens with writers is they start repeating themselves, and they have less experience, they stay home all the time. They just get bogged down in their private lives, and then if they travel they're usually going to literary festivals or giving readings or lectures or whatever at universities. That's not going to give you a very broad sample of human existence. They tend not to take risks. They don't get into trouble, they don't do dangerous things, they're not really open. They become settled. And it's normal, because writing is a particularly sedentary, weird occupation where you have to be alone most of the time, sitting." - Susan Sontag

The Window Cleaner

Here, for the interested, is our entry for the 48 Hours film festival. When we had to introduce the film at its cinema showing, LOML said, "While waiting to receive our genre at the launch, we said to each other, 'As long as we don't get Musical, it will be ok' ... enjoy."


Genre: Musical/Dance
Required Character: Kerry Post, perfectionist
Required Prop: Brush
Required Line: "Wait a minute"

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Mink is in a playful mood this afternoon.

I haven't been doing anything earth-shattering today - since I'm planning a hardworking week, I decided to get all the housework and errands out of the way today. We're having friends over for dinner tonight - I'm making a Pan-Asian soup that I'll upload the recipe for once I have a pretty picture to go with it.


I heard from my advisor today - he read the book over the weekend. Among other things, he said "very haunting and the sense of mounting catastrophe works well" and that it is "a terrific read", which is really nice to hear because I am so enmeshed in the whole thing that I find it really difficult to judge its worth.

I'm meeting with him on Thursday to discuss it further.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Something I am coming to realise

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin


LOML designed this new header for the blog ... 'tis fabulous. I spend a lot of time here, and before it was like sitting in a room with blank white walls. Now it's much more interesting.

Country girl (not really)

We had another photo shoot yesterday, out by the airport this time. LOML wants to get some practice in ready for the weddings he's shooting later in the year.

I really like this one.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Life in six words

Jeannine from The Other Side of Somewhere tagged me with this a few days ago ... it's surprisingly hard!

1. Write the title to your own memoir using SIX words.
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Link to the person that tagged you.
4. Tag 5 more blogs.

This took way more thought than I anticipated ... it's difficult to sum up a life. Should it be profound? Comic? Just plain obscure?

In the end I decided it should be something that signified a journey, something that referenced Zimbabwe and something that gave the idea of impermanence and displacement (deep, huh?).

Fambai Zvakanaka: a citizen of nowhere

'Fambai zvakanaka' means 'go well' or 'travel well' in Shona - something between 'bon voyage' and 'happy trails'. I stole Jeannine's idea of having a main title and then a sub title because I couldn't think of a six-word phrase

I'm excited to see titles from: Missa, Milla, Marichelle, Fraser and Kim.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My baby's all grown up

Jeannine left a comment on my post about being blue suggesting it is normal for artists can suffer a kind of post-partum depression once they finish a work. I thought this was a really interesting idea, and made perfect sense. So I trawled the internet to see if other writers felt this way when they finish a book and, to my delight, I'm not alone.

1) Here's an article that touches on it.
2) Jonathan Safran Foer is asked about it in this interview.
3) And here's a fantastic blog post by Catherynne Valente that really strikes a chord with me - I have a lot of similar feelings during and after the writing process.

Frustrated feline genius

Sorry for all the doom and gloom yesterday. My mum hasn't been very well on and off for a while, and I had a bit of a scare the other day when she went to the emergency room. She's in England at the moment, so I feel a bit helpless, but I think she's going to be fine. And she's home next Saturday (the day after my birthday, hurrah). I have also been thinking Deep Thoughts lately about Life, and some of the conclusions I have drawn have been less than cheerful. But, essentially, everything is fine. Except that I have done no work at all on the novel this week either. Official start date for the revisions has been moved to Monday.

The cat has been behaving strangely. Last night he spent a lot of time sitting on a dining room chair in front of my laptop, staring at the screen. When we went to bed he didn't come and sleep on our feet as he usually does - he was mysteriously absent. In the morning we found that LOML's computer was on (it was off when we went to bed, but moving the mouse wakes it up) and there was a small, furry indentation in the office chair. Obviously he wants to write a novel, but has no opposable thumbs. I'm not sure how to tackle this problem. Perhaps I will offer to take down dictation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Notes from the cave

Sorry for the lack of posting - I have been a little down the last few days, for various reasons. Not quite into the mean reds yet, but I have some things to sort out and think about, so I've retreated into my cave for a while.

My sister read the first three chapters of the book yesterday and didn't express any desire to sue me, which is comforting.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rambling incoherently

I'm reading through some of my old, half-finished novels and thinking about Life and Art and other things that begin with Capital Letters. I am thinking about the book I am writing and the other book I am semi-writing and the books I never wrote and the ones I plan to write, and all those things are competing for space in my head and mean that I can't construct a coherent blog post (see?). So instead I give you some words from one of my favourite writers, Joss Whedon, written during the Writers' Strike in Hollywood ...

Except this is exactly the problem. The easiest tactic is for people to paint writers as namby pamby arty scarfy posers, because it’s what most people think even when we’re not striking. Writing is largely not considered work. Art in general is not considered work. Work is a thing you physically labor at, or at the very least, hate. Art is fun. (And Hollywood writers are overpaid, scarf-wearing dainties.) It’s an easy argument to make. And a hard one to dispute.

My son is almost five. He is just beginning to understand what I do as a concept. If I drove a construction crane he’d have understood it at birth. And he’d probably think I was King of all the Lands in my fine yellow crane. But writing – especially writing a movie or show, where people other than the writer are all saying things that they’re clearly (to an unschooled mind) making up right then – is something to get your head around.

And as work? Well, in the first place, it IS fun. When it’s going well, it’s the most fun I can imagine having. (Tim Minear might dispute that.) And when it’s not going well, it’s often not going well in the company of a bunch of funny, thoughtful people. So how is that work? You got no muscles to show for it (yes, the brain is a muscle, but if you show it to people it’s usually because part of your skull has been torn off and that doesn’t impress the ladies – unless the ladies are ZOMBIES! Where did this paragraph go?) Writing is enjoyable and ephemeral. And it’s hard work.

It’s always hard. Not just dealing with obtuse, intrusive studio execs, temperamental stars and family-prohibiting hours. Those are producer issues as much as anything else. Not just trying to get your first script sold, or seen, or finished, when nobody around believes you can/will/should… the ACT of writing is hard. When Buffy was flowing at its flowingest, David Greenwalt used to turn to me at some point during every torturous story-breaking session and say “Why is it still hard? When do we just get to be good at it?” I’ll only bore you with one theory: because every good story needs to be completely personal (so there are no guidelines) and completely universal (so it’s all been done). It’s just never simple.

It’s necessary, though. We’re talking about story-telling, the most basic human need. Food? That’s an animal need. Shelter? That’s a luxury item that leads to social grouping, which leads directly to fancy scarves. But human awareness is all about story-telling. The selective narrative of your memory. The story of why the Sky Bully throws lightning at you. From the first, stories, even unspoken, separated us from the other, cooler beasts. And now we’re talking about the stories that define our nation’s popular culture – a huge part of its identity. These are the people that think those up. Working writers. - Joss Whedon

Friday, June 6, 2008


I feel like this!

I have just finished my taxes - both the personal return and my company return - and posted them off. Horrible, painful process that caused a splitting headache and a feeing of impending doom, but it is over for another year!

The lovely image is of my girl-crush Zooey Deschanel, taken by Autumn de Wilde and found here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

We're a gloomy bunch

I'm doing a lot of reading tonight, as you can probably tell. I found an interesting article on the link between depression and people who make their living in the arts.

"The writer works alone and for long periods. Social isolation is linked to depression because social interaction provides various kinds of support that can inhibit depressive thoughts and tendencies. The writer doesn't get much exercise. Regular exercise mitigates against the development of depressive symptoms. The writer is poorly paid, and this might lead to poor diet (though I must say that, in my case, the reduction in shopping budget has led to healthier meals), which is linked to depression. Poor pay is also linked to lowered social status, another causal factor in depression. Finally, your success as a writer is almost completely attributable to other people - editors, publishers, readers - and when those people aren't helpful (i.e. you almost never find yourself in court defending a pointless action that will only drive up sales of your already monstrous book), this might lead to a sense of hopelessness, and a feeling that the fundamentals of life are not under your control.

A psychologist called Julian Rotter developed the idea of 'locus of control'. Essentially, it refers to the individual's conception of whether the important things in life (relationships, job, well-being, etc.) are determined by the individual - an internal locus of control - or determined by external forces - an external locus of control. This is probably gets to the nub of the matter. Artists are constantly exposed to approval from the word go, from photographers to painters to writers, and constantly at threat that the approval will be withdrawn (I would guess). Of course, artists are perhaps more sensitive than the general population, too." - Ian Hocking

Extract from an interview with Barbara Kingsolver

Writing is Kingsolver's passion, but she's no artiste. "I consider myself a writer of the working class. I'm a little bit smug about it. I have so little tolerance for writers who have elaborate three-hour rituals before they even get down to work. I think, oh, please. My idea of a pre-writing ritual is getting the kids on the bus and sitting down." The years she worked as a technical writer taught her "to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer's block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don't. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.

"I love revision. Revision is where the art really happens, when you begin to manipulate, shift things around so your theme begins to shine through."

The full interview is here.

Quote (I like this one a lot)

"I don't believe anyone should write unless they have a book to write. Otherwise they should just shut up." - Arundhati Roy

Feeling blah

I had a rather pointless day. Wandered about being a Useless Drain on Society and feeling guilty for not having a proper job. I did go along to a university meeting, which was fun, but I feel rather old amongst all those under-grads. I also took a bus to university, since it's impossible to find a parking space during term time, and the bus was crowded with screeching school-kids. The weather has been flat, grey and blah, also. I cheered myself up by eating chocolate, which had very temporary effects because I'm trying to slim down a little (winter equals comfort eating for me). Just a drifting, directionless, depressing day.

Sorry for the doom and gloom. It settles on me occasionally, like a particularly ugly hat. But it serves a purpose:
1) It shows me that change is needed in some area
2) It makes me remember that every day is a gift, even the ones that suck.

Can you bloody believe it?

He's on about New Zealand now. Taken from the TVNZ site.

Mugabe criticises NZ in summit speech
Jun 4, 2008 6:47 AM

The government has boycotted a speech given by Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe at the Global Food Summit in Rome. The speech, ostensibly meant to be on agriculture, blamed New Zealand and others for making Zimbabwe suffer. But the NZ government and others refused to listen to his tirade.

Mugabe arrived at the food summit with the air of a proud and popular leader - the fact that his homeland, Zimbabwe, is in crisis seemingly everyone else's fault.

"In retaliation for the measures we took to empower the black majority, the United Kingdom has mobilised friends and allies in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand to impose illegal economic sanctions against Zimbabwe." Mugabe asserted in his address to the summit.

This was not what New Zealand's Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton travelled to Rome to hear. So he, and others, boycotted the speech.

"If it wasn't so tragic, it'd be laughable." Anderton said.

"He took over a country that was renowned as the breadbasket of Africa and now...he's got millions of people virtually starving".

Prime Minister Helen Clark says Mugabe is a tyrant and that New Zealand does not even have any economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"I think it's totally understandable that people would walk out rather than be subjected to a tirade against countries like our own." Clark said.

Zimbabwe now survives almost solely on food aid. Forty-seven percent of its people are malnourished, and the population's life expectancy sits at an abysmal 37 years. But to Mugabe, even the aid agencies are to blame - Western charities bring in relief only to discredit him and force him out of power.

He says all the initiatives are intended to cripple Zimbabwe's economy.

But even countries enjoying more stability than Mugabe's Zimbabwe are facing the possibility of mass famine. In the past year, the global cost of grain has doubled. Dairy and rice prices are up by around 50%. The commodity increases are why the UN has organised this summit.

"Only by acting together in partnership can we overcome this crisis today and for tomorrow." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon warned at the summit. "Nothing is more degrading than hunger, especially when it is man-made. It breeds anger, social disintegration, ill-health and economic decline."

The worldwide effect is already visible - commodity prices bringing down a govt in Haiti, and causing food riots in a string of countries.

Delegates now hope to focus on how to feed the hungry, not on why Mugabe has come to Rome.

Anderton speaks to the conference on Thursday and will be calling for a co-ordinated approach to the issue from the UN.

He says New Zealand is willing to offer its services to help to solve the world's food crisis as he believed the country is considered the best in the world when it came to agriculture.

Anderton said New Zealand knows what infrastructure and scientific research is needed.

New Zealand is committing $7 million for the organisation's emergency food programme.

This is what happened just before we left Zimbabwe

I came across this image again today. I remember seeing it on the news shortly before we left Zimbabwe. Terry Ford was killed by war veterans while he was trying to escape his farm. I remember how seeing the little Jack Russell curled up next to him seemed to bring home the horror of the situation, far more than gorier pictures had.


Cups of coffee: two
What's playing: Yael Naim and Camille

Well, I feel a little better about the book. I'm in a strange place this week - I'm not ready to start work on the revisions yet, but I don't much feel like doing anything else either. I have made lots of notes on the first read-through, and I can see a lot of things that need to be addressed (mostly plot and structure issues, as well as a host of awkward sentences, weird metaphors and the like). I can also see that I need to go through and sort of enrich the whole thing - build up atmosphere, make it more seductive. Like colouring in a black-and-white drawing.

I want this book to be worthwhile, not just another blip on the publishing radar. And I want it to do justice to its subject and setting. I'm terrified that I won't be able to.

I'm working on the YA novel intermittently, but fairly half-heartedly. I also have a short story that is rapping me on the back of the head saying 'Write me!', but I'm rapping it right back saying 'Not today'.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Not with a bang but with a whimper

I finished reading through the book today! I am decidedly underwhelmed. Not because the book is bad, because it isn't, but because I still feel like I have no distance from it. It was nearly impossible to concentrate and I found it hard to see any sense in the words - they just looked like little black spiders on a white wall. Evidently I need a little more time ... now that I have had one read-through, I'm going to wait to see what my advisor says before I make any changes or read it again.

In other news, I'm going to see the Sex and the City movie tonight, along with everyone else in the free world if all the hype is to be believed. I have never watched an episode of Sex and the City, and never particularly wanted to, but it should be a fun evening. After all, the film is all about the clothes, right?

One day

I keep thinking about this picture that I took in Lyttelton a while ago. It's the dream ... one day when I have money (ha!) I will buy somewhere like this and make it beautiful again. And then write fantastic books while sitting at the window wearing a romantic floaty dress. Or something.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I'm starting to think I plunged back into the book too quickly - I still have that stale, worn-out feeling I had when I finished (it's kind of like being shut in an aeroplane for a long-haul flight, breathing recycled air - you can't wait to be outside in the real world again). I'm not sure whether to carry on or whether to wait a bit longer - perhaps until my advisor has read it and gets back to me?

I'll think about it.

I think I need one of these posters ...

From Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic, based on the original posters produced by the British Ministry of Information in 1939.


"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Phase two

Well, I have read a third of the novel ... it's tough going, because even though I try to read it like I would a normal book, I am actually reading it far more attentively. It's difficult to switch off the part of my brain that knows it's mine, but I suppose that's inevitable.

Having a break now, and then I'll dive back into it. I'm looking forward to hearing my advisor's comments when he gets a chance to read the whole thing.

Cat treasure hunt

I have a lot of cat things in my house, quite apart from the real cat. I don't notice, usually, but visitors often look around and say, "Wow. Um, you really like cats." And then I realise that I am rapidly turning into the Crazy Cat Lady.

I'm quite comfortable with that.

And then there's the real one.

Things that are happening today

1) Mugabe is spouting off about how everything that has gone wrong in Zimbabwe is England's fault. Big surprise.
2) I am going to the cafe to start reading through my manuscript.
3) I am going to do my taxes. I am. I really am. I don't want to, though - freelancing plays havoc with tax forms.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Holly Hobbie

I had a Holly Hobbie bedspread similar to this when I was small - a pink one. My sister had a blue one.

In fact, Holly Hobbie had a pretty cool look. I like her boots and stockings, and the dresses aren't bad either.

Domestic stuff

The house is sparkling! It is so satisfying. Here is the now-clean fridge:

And I did discover the source of the strange smell - kidney beans. Who knew? Now my clean-freakish self can relax and work in the house tomorrow.

I am also looking forward to getting started on some sewing with my new-to-me machine, although I haven't used a sewing machine in years. The last thing I made was this:

I'd like to try a really simple dress, so I'll have to hunt out a pattern ... anyone have any ideas?

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun ...

Here are some photos of my desk calendar, for no reason other than I don't like posting without pictures.

The country is officially back to work, and so am I. Of course, after the long weekend our house has a refugee-fleeing-my-homeland motif, so the first order of business is getting it back to a suitably restful state so that I can work in it. Sadly, this may include cleaning the fridge. I am not a fan of cleaning the fridge, but there is a smell coming from somewhere within and that probably means I have to take everything out and give it a proper scrub.
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