Because nowhere’s very far

[Apologies to Don McGlashan]

Oh I wish…

This always happens. The day before I head home The Muttonbird’s Wellington gets stuck in my head, and even though it is not particularly flattering of my adopted hometown humming it fills me with excitement because I’m almost home! On roadtrips we’ll cue it on the ipod so we can blast it in the car …but only after we’ve gone past the “Wellington” sign on the motorway (I know it probably makes more sense to play it before). I have sung it on the ferry and hummed it on planes.

Yup. Wellington is home.

The strange thing is my real home town (Taupo) doesn’t stir these same feelings in me. Driving along the lakefront from Motutere to Taupo feels oppressive, like I’m getting more and more weighed down the closer to home I get. It is also the part of the journey that seems to take forever (although it is very beautiful).

This is my last day in Devonport. This will probably the last thing I write in “my” writing studio out the back of the MKWC. Tomorrow I hand back the keys and this space will become someone Else’s (sorry I couldn’t resist the pun – Chris Else is the next writer in residence). So it is fitting that I look back on the past eight weeks don’t you think?

It rains more than it should…

The ad I love on TV at the moment is for McCafe. It talks about expectations and how they are fragile things. I like it because I know that the company/advertisers want us to come away with the message “We’ll exceed your expectations” but what I come away with is “We know your expectations are low and we’re not going to disappoint!” (I also like that they say they use “real” ingredients as opposed to “imaginary” ingredients? I suspect an imaginary muffin would be rather low in fat/calories, and since it is imaginary you can have it anyway you want. In fact, I’m having one now!)

I expected a lot of myself before coming here. I had eight weeks, eight weeks to write a play. I thought I could do that and maybe  have a think about the next novel. I thought I could do that and maybe have a think about the next novel and walk up and down Mt Victoria everyday. I thought I could do that and… you get the picture.

I did write a play. It is at first draft stage but the draft is in good shape. I approached this project differently; because I had the time I researched and outlined and then went straight into a draft. Usually I’d do the research/outlining in a sort of piecemeal way so it was nice to spend a bit of time to do it. It meant I could experiment a bit or chase leads as I thought of them. The downside? If I have been researching/thinking about a story over a few months(or years!) then the strange connections, the themes, the metaphors have time to mature. I have more to choose from then the obvious.

I don’t want to sound like I’m bagging Auckland (because although I claim Wellington for my home I really don’t understand the Wellington/Auckland rivalry thing) but I did have some expectations about spending a Summer up north.  It has rained. A lot. Which is good for getting work done, but not so great if you want to do some fish slaying on the wharf.

There’s so much more to do

As I said, I’ve finished a good first draft of my play. Now I need to put it away for a while so I can see it with fresh eyes for the next draft.

This has been the first time that I’ve been a (paid) full-time writer. I think what this experience has taught me is that I really value structure and routine. Part of the beauty of “actual work” (aside from the people, the money etc) is that it makes me hungry for writing time – I know I have x hours to do x thing and it gets done. Stretch that out to eight weeks and I spend a bit of time on Facebook…

What has been great is that I actually have time to think!

And read the books I’ve been accumulating on story and structure (which are not bedtime friendly)…

Which I hope will make me a better writer.

I wish I was in Wellington…

Thinking of home and thinking of the place that I’m leaving has made me think about, well, place.

Part of Rewena talks about how beautiful the rewena bug is because it remembers where it is from. That it reflects the place that it is made.I think place is important.

I’m not sure just yet (forest for the trees) if Rewena reflects Devonport, or Auckland. Maybe this writer is just too Wellington!


Yes. Home tomorrow. I can’t wait.

Because then I’d be with you.


1 Comment

Filed under Michael King Writers Centre, On being a Writer

One response to “Because nowhere’s very far

  1. ed

    Ah man, now I feel all Wellington-nostalgic too – and I knew the song from before I’d ever visited New Zealand!

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