Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Retreating and Retracing

Bertie is due to be taken out of his pot and put into a planter tonight. I hope he likes his new home. He is going to have a jam jar of stout by his side (excellent suggestion, btw Jo).

I had to take our youngest cat, Jack, to the vet this morning. It took a good ten minutes and skulduggery with food to get him into the box. When we got home, I opened the door, and that was it--he was gone. He probably won't trust me ever again.

All this preparation is so, when we’re away next week, there’s nothing to worry about. On Friday, Allegra, ngaio, Tez (a friend of Allegra’s) and I are journeying up to the wilds of Scotland for a week of meditation, writing and rambling over the hills and moors. I’m trying to leave my expectations at home so I can just go with whatever is flowing. It’s about as contrary to my nature as a fish running, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. It’s going to be interesting, as Allegra has banned me from taking my laptop. I tried explaining to her that my laptop is my main means of creative expression, and it was kind of like asking a guy with no legs to leave his prosthetics at home. Deaf ears.

The break from my normal creative process has the potential to do wonders. I just have to let it. Despite anxiety, I’m looking forwards to the break. Stress seems to be piling up and it’ll be good to be in a place where I can’t do anything about it, so I don’t have to worry about it. And a place where I can just write and do whatever. I can start something new and throw it around with everyone else, and watch it take a direction I never thought of.

I’m worried about the midges, though. I used to holiday in the Outer Hebrides when I was a kit and midges are a trauma. They love my blood. They love my sweat. They love climbing in my ears and under my eyelids and in my long hair. The only people who understand my pain are my aunt and my brother. I’m bringing two different kinds of repellent. I still feel under-prepared.

In other news, I’ve finished my first, ‘hack’. I’ve taken an old shirt I didn’t wear any more, and turned it into a new waistcoat. I’d be lying if I said it looked great, but it does okay and I’m happily wearing it today. I plan to make another waistcoat out of an old black shirt I found at the bottom of the wardrobe. Being able to create something tangible like that has an addictive quality. If I wasn’t a writer, I’d have found my new vocation.

Sewing all done, I’ve been going back to Bambi’s stories. As I’m sure you can imagine, some need more work than others. Number two in the series was a pain, number three needed some surgery, but number four needed very little work. I wrote it over Christmas 2008 and its set at that time of year. The ending is a bit sappy, but I let that stand. Five and six are the last two, but they’re also probably going to need the most work. I just sat down and wrote those, no planning or forethought. Now I’m going back and reshaping them all to be part of the same narrative, I’m not only going to have to clean them up but also remould them to fit in. Once all the stories have been put into a second draft, I can go back and refine them. The first draft is just what happens to come out my fingers when I'm at the keyboard.. The second draft is what I meant to write. Third and forth are refining. Sometimes there’s a fifth draft. Normally I’m done in four, though. It’d be nice to get the last two into draft-ii before the trip, but that’s not going to happen. Maybe I’ll print them out and bring them with me. At least I have the option then, even if I don’t take it up.

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