12 Days Later

Number 12It’s been twelve days since I completed my novel.

In that time I have ridden a roller coaster of amazement and joy served with a side of absolute bewilderment at having finished, and the adrenalin burn out that came afterward with the yawning black hole that desperately wanted to swallow me. I’ve felt utterly lost, adrift, and thought I might never again be able to front up to the page (how is it possible that I can feel that way after achieving something I said I’d never do – write a novel?!) I’ve missed my characters with a bone aching longing that had me (almost) returning to the page to begin a second draft — but held off! It’s only in the last few days that I realised I managed to write my first novel before I turned 40 (not that it was the intention when I set out to write).

I’ve walked the puppy on the cusp of the suburb turning into Schwlatzmas-land with all the lights, at all hours of the evening: at midnight to the dulcet beats of homemade reggae rolling down off the hills at Holland Park and early enough to smell the lingering deliciousness of other people’s dinner. And the most telling bit of it all (other than some random poetry downloads) all the voices in my head have been quiet.

POET-TRY

I’ve written poetry (add one ‘almost-hangover’ from too much sangria, Nik Perring‘s Not So Perfect, a loose end of a Sunday afternoon, a random conversation with Adam Byatt and observe part of your brain break and poetry pour out). Two of those poems been through the critiquing process. If you think it hurts to have your short stories or novel critiqued, have a crack at someone tearing lovingly through your poetry! I’ve also attended my first Speed Poets to support Stacey in her first public reading (she was awesome!)

BETWEEN MINUTES

I’ve had a bunch of conversations with people about Between Minutes since I finished, all of which astound in the support and interest the novel garners (and the fear that comes with the fact I will never artfully articulate it on the page to make up for the blab-factor in person). These conversations have ranged from support at the end of the process to find a publisher and/or an agent, and other conversations with have accidentally broadened my understanding of the characters and their interplay.

SCHMINGLING-DINGLE-DOO

I’ve schmingled the QWC Christmas party and again, missed the hangover bullet. Had impromptu writerly drinks at The Fox on a Sunday afternoon (oh how I miss Sunday sessions – they are the perfect antidote for Sunday Melancholia!). Met with Helen to move forward my next part of The Gold Coast anthology amid chatter, coffee and good food (the best way to work). There have also been important and frivolous conversations in Stacey’s kitchen.

RETURN OF THE BIRTH BUNK

BirthpunkAt Dave’s Christmas party a bunch of his co-workers were asking me about my writing (the blush-worthy moment when someone says: So I hear you published a book? What’s with that?) I somehow got to talking about how I was going to write birthpunk and several really interesting conversations came out of it. Most of which ended with “You have to write this. I want to read it now!” So I knew the tide was turning and I was fighting a losing battle by trying to run away from it.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to catch up with Lois Spangler, not once but twice. The breakfast catch made my brain ‘splode with possibilities: a stage play of Between Minutes, additional novellas for Elyora, a grindhouse style script for Elyora but, most importantly, the undeniable push forward to finish the first birthpunk novella.

Lois has very graciously and generously offered to look at it when it is finished. I believe the date for ‘submission’ is mid-to late January. Knowing the pace with which I can knock out words, that won’t be a problem. My new creative year begins on the 31st January so it’s all keeping to original time frames written down in late September. With the extra bit of time – I might even get a second draft revision done on it.

My head is finally in a place where I think I can write for fun, rather than for intent. With Between Minutes behind me (for now) I have the confidence to tackle the ‘big project’. And with a new opening I think I can quickly gain the momentum needed to move the story where it needs to go (which has been the problem to date – I’ve been writing the end of one of the other novellas in the cycle!)

So I guess this is my way of saying after a mini break I’m ready to start again, and that’s a good thing.

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Day 27, 28 and The End #nanowrimo

day28

The dawn of an all-nighter

Words for the day: 6341 (target was to finish)
T-shirt: It was a mismatched collection of warm and cool clothing
Best music vibe: “Beach” San Cisco

I’m writing this from the comfort of December. The adrenalin has worn off, as has the adrenaline withdrawal. I’ve been out to piss it up with jugs of sangria, I’ve slept and I’ve had enough days away from my characters to miss them terribly.

I decided on Thursday night while out walking the dog that I would pull an all-nighter and finish the novel. That was at about 9pm. I made the decision without the foresight to stock up on biscuits and chocolate and other necessaries to haunt the hours everyone else is sleeping through.

At 9:30 I put the coffee on, sorted out my writing space and sat down wondering what the fuck I was thinking. I was tired before I had committed a single word. I cranked up The Pointer Sisters, drank my coffee and chair danced until the coffee was gone, just to get the energy flowing. In my notebook I wrote down the scenes left and filled in some simple detail. I probably didn’t need to do it but again, it helped to get everything flowing. And I sat and wrote. Knowing I wasn’t coming up until it was done.

last brain stormI was lucky enough to have a friend awake and available on the other side of the world. He helped to keep me awake as the story slowly flowed out of me. As the bodies rolled, and the horror amped up, as I typed and typed and typed and typed.

Facebook looked something like this:

See you all at the next 1,000 block or next death. Whichever comes first. #mad#thisnovelendstonight

Three: three cold, twisted bodies in a pool of blood in an upstairs room. This brings the Count’s body count to four: four dead Dalhousians. *uhahuhahuh*

76,000 words lingering in the heat of Antoinette and on the cusp of the big flicking of the switch on the chronometric pulley and the next death.

77,000 words pass in a blast of cardiac flesh smeared on brass.

Oh, and one: one young woman once a bitch throwing a spanner in the words with an exploding heart. This brings the Body Count to five. Five dead bodies. *uhahuhahuh*

One: old man with a cold chisel through his chest ending three centuries of life and an epic love affair. This brings the Body Count to six: six dead bodies *uhahuhahuh*

78000 words slinks past in a hail of difficult words in the face of a no-win situation. What would you sacrifice for the person you loved?

One: a young man who gives his life for the woman who helped him find the way back. He rides out on a bottle of laudanum. This brings the Body Count to six. Six stiffs in Dalhouse. *uhahuhahuhah* And the death count ends. And the book not far away either.

It’s undisclosed as to whether or not I really did go a bit mad by the end.

Somewhere throughout the evening I found San Cisco and their song “Beach” and it went on loop. Became a bit of an end line anthem.

The End

At 5:11am, after going it alone for an hour and feeling as though I was writing from blood squeezed from my thumb, the last words were committed: THE END.

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 5.11.45 AMBetween Minutes came in at 79,153 words. There was absolutely no temptation to find a scene and flesh it out to make it 80,000.

It is currently safely tucked away in my hard drive and I’ll print it out when I get a new toner and do the cliched bottom drawer thing (hey, it’s my first novel!). The plan is to leave it there until February. I have my eye on a Writer’s Retreat at the end of February. If it comes off I will work the second draft while I am there.

In the interim I will continue to take notes about the characters, read A Christmas Carol and Pride and Prejudice and think of nifty ways to steam punk an average Victorian house.

Thank You And Good Night

There are so many people I’d like to thank that I fear I’ll leave someone out.

First up to Rus Vanwestervelt who was the original impetus to write this year (it was stubborn me who decided it had to be finished manuscript this year, not just an arbitrary word count) and who ended up being a just world-away muse, confidenté and one-man cheer squad.

Secondly to my Mr D’s who put up with a month of take-away food, a mostly absent mother and partner and just general weirdness from me.

Thirdly to Rob who let me prattle about all the broken bits and do what outsiders do best: pointed to the obvious connection between it all and gave the the road map to THE END.

Lastly to the support team: Stacey, Helen, Adam, Ben, Nichole, Rosemary, Jo-Anne, Daniel, Emily, Paula, Sean, Kat, Kelly, Monica (many of whom were also madly scrabbling for words) and all the people who read, liked and commented on the snippets that went up on Facebook, gave a cheer on Twitter or who generally just gave me a break as needing to be a functioning human being.

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 8.15.17 PMAnd to end it off, perhaps one of my favourite scenes amid the blood bath that came Tarantino style at the end.

* * *

He held the church door open for the Darlinghursts.The night air felt alive as Christian escorted the Darlinghursts out: warm and expansive and pure before the smells of Victorian life seeped in to crowd him.

“I’m unfamiliar with this part of town, Lady Darlinghurst. Where do you suggest a cab at this hour.”

“Cab? Dear boy, you expect us to travel home in a cab.”

She bustled off through the churchyard and as he followed, Magdelena slipping her arm through his bringing his momentum to a halt.

“One small kiss as a token of your affection?” she asked, closing her eyes and waiting for him to kiss her.

“Or as an act of good faith on the part of your patron,” Maelene added and followed her mother toward the carriage waiting at the front gates of the church.

Christian cupped one side of her face in his hand, closed his eyes and pretended he was kissing Tabitha for the first time.

“Mr Butler,” she gasped when he finally pulled away and he held her arm, aghast there really was such a thing as a swoon.

“Will you do my a favour, Maggie?” Christian asked.

“Anything?”

“Do not come to the demonstration tomorrow. Forget you ever saw me, you were ever in that house and if someone ever offers your mother an investment that seems too good to be true, then it is. Don’t accept it. If you accept it you will end up destitute.”

He took the promissory note from his pocket. “If you don’t, in the future you will be cleaning the piss pots in Mr Ramsey’s house and your mother will be kneading bread. And for your sister’s sass will end with her having her tongue cut out.

“Mr Butler!”

“You are a sweet girl and your family would never have been dragged into this if not for me.” He executed a terrible bow and took his leave of her.

“But, Mr Butler. Tea?” Magdalena called as he walked away. “Perhaps next week.”

She was waving the promissory note in lieu of a handkerchief when he turned back and he shook his head. “My wife will be more understanding of that kiss if I don’t.”

He turned back to the church and kept walking, telling himself he’d done his best to save them.