Category Archives: Kiwiana Charlatan

In it for the money…

I’ve been caught up in the Big Wednesday madness that has taken over the country in the past few weeks.

Last week it was up to $26 (ish) million and I could barely think what I’d spend it on, and this week it’s already up to $35M.

I know the odds of winning are astronomical (1 in 16M) but I think just the fantasy that I might win has been worth a ticket price. Which is hard for me to say because I have called it “stupid tax” for years. My sister told me to think of it as a donation to the arts instead. I think I’ll take that further and say it’s an investment in my career because somewhere down the line I’ll be applying for funding for something. Yup, that’s right I’m not wasting my money; not at all…

Lottery madness inevitably leads to conversations about what you’d do if you win. Would you give up work? Who would you tell?

I had this conversation a few weeks ago with a friend (Hey M!) when the jackpot was some piddling number, say $15M or so. It went something like this:

W – I don’t know if I’d keep writing.

M- Of course you would.

W – I don’t know if I’d be as driven; I want to succeed as a writer  so I get money…

M – What money?!

And then we laughed and drank more beer.

But there was a little bit of truth in it. Part of me does hope that one day this writing lark will pay off. And not in an artistically satisfied way. I mean a pay-off-my-student-loan-and-buy-a-house kind of way. So I guess I live in a monetary fantasy world whether or not I buy Lotto…

My Lotto madness has paid off – in the artistically satisfied sense of course. Last week I wrote a screenplay based on my novel. I wanted to set up that one character dreams of owning her own place and taking care of her nearest and dearest. She had a Lotto conversation with the other character (Mae) and said if she won lotto Mae could retire… which meant I could set up how important work is for Mae and the idea that she might need an apprentice.

I wonder if I have to thank the Lotteries Commission for that?

I suppose I should apologise for my slackness in writing posts. I’m hoping that it’s becoming a charming aspect of my personality but I suspect it is not.

I have been busy with screenplays, rewriting a short story for the Katherine Mansfield award and will be launching into a rewrite of Kiwiana Charlatan that I hope to get done in the next couple of weeks.

Then back into the novel for (fingers crossed) my last hurrah.

Funny. Deep down I think of myself as a deeply lazy person (I dream of sleep ins and naps. If I ever become a full time writer I’m doing it Spike Milligan style in jammies and a big bed) but my workload would refute that.

Must dash – deadlines loom.

I’ll be back…sometime.


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My Eyes are Dim…

My horoscope said to expect miracles today, but unfortunately it seems winning Big Wednesday wasn’t the miracle I was waiting for.

But today has been quite miraculous, miraculous indeed!

Today I had a reading of Kiwiana Charlatan. It was organised by Playmarket so I had a director and actors. It was great to hear it read again (I’ve had a quick and dirty reading at my writers group) and to hear feedback from people who haven’t been there since I said “I have this idea…”

Not that feedback from people who have been there from the start isn’t valuable; it’s just that, after a while you can’t see the plot holes for the trees anymore.

This was something I tripped over on the last stretch of my novel rewrite last week (was it only last week? It seems so long ago…)

I had it all sorted, a few more things to tie up before I could send it to Phil so he could have a copy before he left the country. And then some new notes from a new reader came and I, well, sort of over reacted. I think it was just exhaustion and the thought of the finish line being out of reach again. Anyway once I had calmed down and started to breathe normally again, I realised that I had already addressed some of the comments and one of them was really important.

I had started the novel in a dream/fantasy sequence which we (that’s me and Phil) had known that because we know January. But new readers don’t. Kind of a problem at the beginning of the book huh?

In the end it just took a little rejigging (hey, Chapter 1 and 2 could be swapped…) and I got my draft in on time.

I think I started this story in order to say that fresh eyes are good.

OK. My Brain appears to have officially knocked off for the day. An early night for a tired writer methinks…

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I’ve just counted the days since I finished the draft of my novel and although it has only been 48 days it feels like 48 years; and then, strangely, hours.

It has been a little strange. The habit of writing every morning seems to have stuck and so when I haven’t I’ve felt a bit angsty. Which spills into every facet of life.

And it is not as though I haven’t done anything – I have been pottering with my drabble, but that really just felt like killing time.

Until a proper project came along…

So I printed out my novel to re-read (too soon?) and I’ll be looking at Kiwiana Charlatan…

…but what I really want to do is to write something fun. Something silly. Something where I don’t have to delve too deeply into my past/emotions.

Not that I’ve reached that level with my drabble. At the moment it is all frustratingly superficial.

The year is slipping away…

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So little work, so much time…

Strike that; reverse it (thanks Mr Wonka).

I finished reading the third draft of my novel about an hour ago and I’m quite pleased with it. Not enough to send it to Phil yet, but not vomiting in my mouth. Which is always a happy event!

What surprised me the most was that the ending which I had thought too twee as I wrote it resonated well (although I do need to work on setting up some things earlier for it to come off the way I really want it to.)

So there is much work ahead. Today I’m going to concentrate on the little things (missing letters, sometimes whole words! My tendency to drop into past tense when I’m impaitent to get to the next paragraph.) and then map out the big things.

Like where I have written “passage of time” in the margins. I am tempted to write “cut to” but I know that won’t work and it might be an opportunity to work on some descriptive passages which seem to have been ruthlessly cut out in my quest for a clean story ( meaning clear. There’s still insanity and sex…)

I’ve also noticed that I haven’t physically described my main characters (except to say that Mae is old and that January has green eyes) and although I don’t want to write a passage that is that expositionary – January stood straightening her 160cm frame and brushing her shoulder length black hair from her green eyes… – I think it is important to have a sense of a character; what do you think?

I’m also not sure if this is work to be done now or to wait until someone else has read it. My gut says that I should do it now – but my brain (who still wants to be on holiday) says it can wait, it can wait…

But can I? It is the time of the year when I start blocking time for projects and I was hoping that this year the novel wouldn’t be as greedy as it has been for the past 3. At the moment I’m giving it from now until June ( this of course is flexible for diversions rewrites of short stories and films for various competitions this year, and for other people’s schedules too). I am determined that it will be done this year.

After the novel I’m hoping to rewrite Kiwiana Charlatan and to start a draft of my new project (still not sure if it is a film or a play yet)…

Is it possible to feel this overwhelmed by the year already?

I think I need a cup of tea and a lie down.


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Hair of the dog

TGIF called for a couple of drinks at work, followed by a few more at home. In other cultures that would probably be termed as binge drinking but here in lovely Aotearoa since I wasn’t vomitting in a gutter somewhere it’s just counted as a quiet night in. Not that I was falling down drunk, just at the stage when I’m easily distracted and have an opinion on everything. Which means said opinions are somewhat disjointed and  can (and often do) just evaporate mid sentence.

I slept like the dead drunk – no vivid dreams to try and remember, just black oblivion. I awoke this morning without a hangover, well; without a physical hangover. No furry tongue or pounding head. My stomach is not delicate, I am glad for the meagre sunlight.

But I seem to have awoken with a psychical hangover ( yes it’s a real word! And I mean it as in of the soul and mind not the ability to see into the future – dang it! It is Lotto day!).  I don’t know what my brain was tinkering over while my ego was out of action, or maybe who (or what) was tinkering around in there; building new synapses whilst I slept on.

I woke with a very clear feeling that Kiwiana Charlatan, while complete in itself, is not the entire story. That there are other stories to be told around it.

Perhaps it is because of the research and thinking around the (brave new)world they’re in that didn’t make it to the cut, perhaps it is because we’ll be reading it today at my writers’ group, perhaps it is because someone suggested that it might be a novel.

Perhaps it is just my half cut method proving its worth once again…

Perhaps it is because I’m thinking about my novel again and KC has become the tempting mistress again. But there is more work to come, but maybe I’ll wait until the next draft to start!

As they say in the Tui ads – yeah, right!

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The Plan

I’ve finished!

The first draft of Kiwiana Charlatan is done and I will be backing it up on a CD shortly.

Because if my computer is ever going to crash, me old mate Murphy says it will be now…

I’m hoping to have a little read through at the next writing meeting I go to, and to be honest I feel a little nervous about it. Why? Because it feels like it is not really a first draft, more like a second or (dare I say) a third.  So it feels short and too clean. But I guess I won’t really know until it is read.

Someone once asked me how I knew when a draft was done. This is what I think: a draft is done when you’re not sure what your tinkering with will help the story or ruin it.  That’s when I down tools and let the piece cool off, or rather; let myself cool off. That’s when I ask another writer to have a look at it, or let actors loose on it. When I can no longer see it.

So I’ll have a reading and collect criticisms and then leave it for a while. Until my eyes clear…

Meanwhile I have a plan.

I am a list-maker, a planner. Part of the reason I was so resistant to the outline is because I like writing lists so much that I’d probably be quite happy just to do that. And not cross anything off. The list is a favorite form of procrastination!

So I launch into my plan with a little trepidation – will I get caught in an endless cycle of outlining and research? Will any actual writing get done?

I guess we’ll see when I start on Monday. Meanwhile, I’m taking the weekend off. Maybe I’ll even have a drink or two to wet the baby’s head.


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Those other difficult people…

Last week I attended a seminar on dealing with difficult people. If only I had known this when I worked in retail. Of course it’s different when you’re in the firing line rather than a seminar room, I can’t imagine thinking about ego states when a customer is yelling at you and accusing you of stupidity. I had to leave retail before I bit my tongue in two.

What excited me about the seminar is that it was all about conflict ( I know, kind of obvious from a seminar entitled “Dealing with Difficult people”) and for a writer conflict is gold. It gave me a nice surprise – something I can use in writing! I love it when I stumble across serendipitous gems; random articles, websites, music. Things that seem to open up what I’m working on and make me look at the work in a new way.

So I’ll be looking at all my work with my new ego state eyes, particularly in the relationship between Zeke and Mary in Kiwiana Charlatan.

Speaking of which…

I’m aiming to have a draft done by the end of this week, which is already feeling a bit ambitious! But this morning I had an inspiring plan; to finish off the play and then for the next two months do some serious research/planning for my novel. Then in November, write the third draft. In a month.

At the moment it feels do-able. And I figure it might be good training for next year’s NaNoWriMo which I have foolish ambitions of completing.

And of course I’ll let you know how it goes!


Filed under Kiwiana Charlatan, On being a Writer