Hows that novel coming along?

On Saturday I will have been here a month. The burning question is‘ So how’s that novel coming along?’

The truth is, I find myself thrown back into my Masters at the IIML, when having been accepted with a brilliant submission, I got there and found my ideas ran off like disobedient terriers. I went through an angst filled period of self loathing, resignation that I was totally useless, a complete fraud and was not worthy. 

Then I got down to writing.

It takes a while to settle into a place before the muse can be given free reign (my story and I’m sticking to it). Every day seems distracted by something that takes me away from my IMPORTANT work. Things I didn’t finish in Wellington before I left. Getting a Residents Parking permit, so further fines are avoided. Tell me, why does every student on George, Titan and Great King Street own a vehicle? When I was a poor student, I sensibly lived at home and used my parents car, and all their petrol whilst receiving a standard tertiary bursary. Kids these days…privileged much (joking here).

Then there is meeting up with other artists, writers and going to check out the museums and libraries. And St Clair Salt water pool until it closes with daylight saving. ID Fashion this week, French film Festival the next. So busy! So much to see and do. A thousand ways to avoid writing.

But still, walking everyday to my office across the North Ground green, through the University, along the Leith. Watching students, listening to conversations whilst pretending to look at my phone. Realising YA doesn’t always mean 15 year old at school. Can be an 18 year old school leaver. Back in my day we left school at 16 most often. What is a YA audience anyway except for a yarn intended to absorb anyone over the age of 12?

And drawing.

One of the things I decided when I was coming down was that my sketchbook was getting thin on drawings and I had lost the urge to doodle. Part of this is because I no longer feel the need to sketch something from life, because I’m a practised illustrator. So why fill up a diary with studies of fruit and suchlike? I know how to draw them and doing more bores me. The other reason to draw was to nut out designs for clients. I don’t have a client down here, I AM the client. So I bought a brown paper sketchbook (to challenge my tonality) and decided to fill it with whimsey and humour during my time here. If I draw something I have give it a different spin.

I thought I was just amusing myself, but the revelation to me today, was that this is an integral part of my project. Not these particular drawings as such, but the way I’m interpreting the world around me. My proposed project includes diary sketches and a fundamentally different view of life from my protagonist. 

Every new thing I am experiencing here is feeding my work. From losing my keys down the lift well at the College of Ed, visiting Bruce Mahalski and his Museum of Natural Mystery (and coming away with bones), to chortling at the blatantly naughty signage on scarfie student flats.

And sitting in the Student Hub today, I did what has always worked for me best when writing. I got out lined paper, a pen and started. And it’s filling me with that certain excitement that other writers will know…the one that has you wriggling about with delight. Because you are on your way.

So how’s that novel going Fifi? I can report today, that it’s going just fine.

PS- if you want to check out my sketches, follow me on instagram or facebook.

And here is Smaug of the lift shaft, waiting for my keys.


Hows that novel coming along?
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